15 Career Steps

Longtime reader here, left the biz in 2012. I thought I'd give back and post some good advice that was shared with me by an older mentor when I was younger. Learn it. Use it. Live it. Hope you find it helpful.

15 CAREER STEPS

1.) Perception is everything...act as if.

2.) Never give them a reason to fire you and they won't.

3.) Do everything that everyone doesn't want to do...do it better...and faster.

4.) If you don't ask for it you won't get it.

5.) Meet as many people as you can and learn as much as possible...the money will come later.

6.) Give more and you will receive more.

7.) They will always pay you just enough to keep you indifferent. (Your boss will likely never pay you more than what he/she made at your age...have a rich boss.)

8.) Treat your boss like you are in a heads up poker game with him/her: few tells, never show your hand if you don't have to, get as much information as you can, create low risk/high reward circumstances.

9.) The 3 most valuable commodities are relationships, time, and information. Probably in that order.

10.) Continuously innovate. Fixing an old problem is just as valuable as inventing a new idea.

11.) Surround yourself with people that are smarter than you. Don't fear young talent. Embrace them and make them your army of advocates.

12.) Always have a plan B....and C.

13.) Sales make the world go round. Everyone is a salesman/woman at the end of the day.

14.) You cannot partner with people who do not share your work ethic, tenacity, urgency, or resourcefulness. Align your expectations before you begin.

15.) It's not what you SAY, it's what people HEAR.

Mod Note (Andy): Best of 2016, this post ranks #5 for the past year

Comments (35)

 
Jul 31,2016

Thank you, this is an invaluable post.

Learn More

Side-by-side comparison of top modeling training courses + exclusive discount through WSO here.

 
Jul 31,2016

I provide validation to this message. +1

Why did you leave the industry and where did you end up?

If you don't know who the sucker is at the table, it's you.

 
Jul 31,2016

I left because it was time to do something else.

I currently work for the new CEO of a company bought by PE and we are using it as a platform for bolt-on acquisitions and organic revenue growth opps...

"Bulls take the stairs, bears take the elevator"
"Sell a teenie, lose your weenie"

 
Jul 31,2016

any tips on # 15, in terms of how to get people to hear you better?

 
Jul 31,2016

Make sure you are understood.

Oh, and karaoke ;)

"Bulls take the stairs, bears take the elevator"
"Sell a teenie, lose your weenie"

 
Jul 31,2016

Great post. Thank you.

 
Jul 31,2016

Solidly agree with this entire thing.

Also #14 is pretty great dating/relationship advice too...

 
Jul 31,2016

14.) You cannot partner with people who do not share your work ethic, tenacity, urgency, or resourcefulness. Align your expectations before you begin.

THIS. I have never heard anyone saying it loud, but it makes so much sense though.

 
Jul 31,2016

Agree with all, but I want to expand on point 4 or add a new point entirely: to meet the right people, you need to go to where they are. By that, I mean you need to physically go to where they are. Nothing replaces face to face interaction. I shot myself in the foot by starting out my career in a smaller city on the West Coast. It is much, much easier to make both quality and quantity connections in a city like Dallas, Houston, New York, Los Angeles, etc.

Sure, once you've made your money, live wherever you want, but I highly recommend starting your career in a major metropolitan area.

 
Jul 31,2016
 
Jul 31,2016

agree, one reason i moved to buenos aires was to meet (in person) digital nomad types

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My Linkedin

 
Dec 31,2016

I need to read this every day for the rest of my life.

+1SB

"A modest man, with much to be modest about"

Learn More

Side-by-side comparison of top modeling training courses + exclusive discount through WSO here.

 
Jul 31,2016

Valuable maxims for any career-oriented specialist. Thank you!

 
Best Response
Jul 31,2016

This one fascinated me: "8.) Treat your boss like you are in a heads up poker game with him/her: few tells, never show your hand if you don't have to, get as much information as you can, create low risk/high reward circumstances."

I have a mentor who is 4 years older and was from my neighborhood and ended up going to the same college that I went to. So when I got in he really tried to sell it to me and has remained a mentor ever since. We both don't come from money so salary conversations aren't taboo among us. He's 26 years old, started out as a trader out of college at a BB and 2 years later moved to a hedge fund. Recently got a $1million bonus that he showed me and we talked about it for a while. He told me when he saw the number he was blown away, was expecting something in the 600k's and thinks that the head of the company sees potential in him as young talent, so wants to get on his good side now rather than later when his trading leverage/earning potential increases. When he had his meeting and received the bonus he told me he acted very formal and respectuful but did not show any emotion or joy. Very much so a business type of transaction. His bosses are mind fucked now at how this 26 year old didn't show any excitement at a $1 million check, and he says ever since then they have been treating him with the respect as someone 5 years older than him. We've both been laughing at this for a while now. Long story but I thought it pertained to number 8.

I would love to hear more thought on this and #8 as I thought it was great advice.

We're not lawyers. We're investment bankers. We didn't go to Harvard. We Went to Wharton!

 
Jan 31,2017

Not the original poster but I have some thoughts. Its entirely true about #7. you are paid a bonus not for your work last year but to keep you around for this year. and that bonus needs only be big enough to keep you around.

the reason he's getting what he perceives is respect is probably because they now perceive him to be at risk of leaving.

if he's making his first million dollar bonus, especially as a surprise, he's right that they think he's got potential. it'd be crazy for them not to have paid him his expected 600k how expected and to restrict the extra 400k for maybe 3 years. If thats what they did its got nothing to do with buttering him up and everything to do with the golden handcuffs.

a good line to use in a situation like his is if your bonus size is referenced is to bring it back to your PnL. someone says "it's a huge bonus" you say something like "I'm really glad it worked out for me and the shareholders/unitholders/investors/russian mob money that backs us". You never want to have your boss get the idea that your bonus can be capped - where no matter how much you make you'll be satisfied with a certain arbitrary number (like say $5million). You want to communicate that you are happy with the % of book not the absolute number.

In that sense your boss should be happy to slide a massive number across to you. It means that the company made a ton of money and you are getting your rightful share of it. It's total bullshit when management says stuff like "it's the biggest bonus he'll have ever gotten" or "we're paying a kid a million dollars" but it happens all the time.

 
Jul 31,2016

These career tips are so important that would help us to be more cautious at our work.

 
Jul 31,2016

Can't agree more with #11. My academic and professional paths improved dramatically when I changed the people around me. They raise your expectations about yourself and will push you to challenge yourself every day.

Array

 
Jul 31,2016

Present, present and present again. I'm amazed at how few people are comfortable presenting and the difference it can make in the perception of one's value.

 
Jul 31,2016

I can kind of vouch for 4, but this was when I was in the restaurant industry. I was just a cashier but half a year in, I literally asked the owner of the restaurant for a raise and then it led to a promotion as an assistant manager. 2 of the general managers were fired and I was the only one capable of operating his restaurant in a leadership capacity, so it lead to a general manager position.

Seriously though.. it feels like your bosses won't say shit until you have leverage enough to ask. Of course there is risk involved - bigger risk/ bigger reward.

Awesome maxims by the way. Presentation is EVERYTHING and I believe that in any client-facing industry, if your team doesn't appreciate your hard effort, then most likely the client will. I know there are a lot of people out there who believe their work isn't appreciated or acknowledged, but they need to realize someone out there notices or will notice. Like OP said... perception is everything!

 
Jul 31,2016

This post is gold.

Would love/appreciate any more wise words.

 
Jul 31,2016

True words of wisdom! This is crucial advice, I really appreciate it.

Alexander Watkins,
Architectural Draftsman, Financial Chimp.

 
Jul 31,2016
 
Aug 31,2016
hic217:

+1 for the fantastic post

Yes. Great list.

Winners bring a bigger bag than you do.
I have a degree in meritocracy.

 
Aug 31,2016

Learned a lot of these lessons my first year at college (last year). Thank you for sharing.

 
Sep 30,2016

10 B.) Create a niche. Be the person that everyone needs then monetize it. The second part is easier said than done, but as IBG said, do the work and the money will follow

 
Nov 30,2016
 
Dec 31,2016

The Selection of suitable job belongs to the most important decisions in your life. If you have some years of practice or you are thinking about a change, or looking for a first job, it is good, before your react to a job offer, to be clear on the following issues and about what you expect from your new work.
Many people make the same mistake, they react to a large number of job offers at the same time from various areas, which require different experience and prerequisites.
Career planning is not a hard activity, not something to be dreaded or put off, but rather an activity that should be liberating and fulfilling, providing goals to achieve in your current career or plans for beginning a transition to a new career.

 
Jan 31,2017

This is one of the best big picture advice posts on this site. Thank you sir. I struggle with #6 the most

 
Jan 31,2017

pure gold!

26 Broadway
where's your sense of humor?

 
Nov 30,2017

Usually I put like 85% away in markets / savings, but I did decide I'm buying a Super car with part of it this year if I hit a decent number.

 
Jul 31,2018
 
Jul 31,2018

I think I'll print those words and stick them on the mirror in my bathroom.
Thanks for sharing this - especially number 15 is so true!

 
Aug 31,2018

Thanks for the post wise one

 
Oct 31,2018