I've received a lot of emails from members asking for advice on how they can have a great career. Before I get into that, let me give you my back story so you know where I am coming from: I came from an Emerging Market country, I didn't speak english very well when I arrived in the US and I didn't know many people here. So a lot of what happened to me was about trial and error, making lots of mistakes and learning along the way. This is the advice I wish someone had given me in the beginning.
Read - Read at least 2 books a month (college text books don't count !). Thats only 25 pages a day. Just doing this for 5 years will make you one of the smartest people around. If you don't know where to start, shoot me an email and I'll create a custom list for you based on your needs.
Write - Write stuff down in a notebook. This will transform your life. Get a simple journal, write in it every day. Some things I use mine for: writing my thoughts, what I just read, what I just listened to, what my goals are, what I learnt, what I want to do, what I am feeling. Journaling has magical powers. It will increase your memory, improve your thinking, clarify your ideas and thought process. This is even more important in a world that is mostly lived on our screens and away from pen and paper.
Serve Others - Have face to face conversations. Meet new people. Put yourself out there. Reading and Writing are important, but your friends and network can completely alter your life. Focus on people and how you can serve them. Adding value to others, will make you more valuable. It's easy early on to ask yourself "what's in it for me ?' Think about capitalism functions, the people and the businesses that succeed are the ones building a solution that solves a problem for their clients. Take the same approach in life. What are you doing to help people, what skills and knowledge are you acquiring that can help others ?
Manage your Career - In the current market, your economic security is based on your skills and reputation. The way to solve this problem is to develop abilities and skills that can't be automated away. Talents like critical thinking, writing effectively and problem solving. Sometimes this will mean moving around and finding the next job, the next role that will give you the skills you need to learn. Don't be afraid, as long as you are improving every day, you will win
Diversify - Things are moving quicker than ever and opportunities abound. If you focus on just one thing or one job you are putting yourself at more risk than you should. Don't rely on any one source of income or opportunity. Diversify your friends, diversify your assets, diversify your income, diversify how you learn, diversify who you spend time with. Not only will this expose you to positive black swans but also reduce the anxiety from any one thing not working out.
Get a Mentor (or two) - Find people who will help you on your journey. Help them, push them even higher, get them to like you and feel invested in you. Then ask them to advise you and mentor you. Some of the best advice I ever got was from older colleagues when I was starting out. Advice I still go back to. Most of life, success, happiness is about trying new things, building a library of experience. If you can take advantage of someone else's experiences and failures than hopefully there are fewer dead ends you need to go down.
Time - Value your time. When I was young I felt I had all the time in the world. I didn't. I used my time badly, did things I shouldn't have, was in relationships that weren't good for me. One day I was 22 having just started my career, the next day I was 37. Fifteen years had passed in the blink of an eye. Value your time, this is your only life, spend it wisely doing things that you really want to do, with people you really want to do it with. I go back to this quote from David Whyte often:
Life is to be taken at the tilt, you do not have forever, and therefore why wait ? Why wait ....to become a faithful and intimate companion to that initially formidable stranger you called your self? - David Whyte
Many people helped me along in my career, now I want to help you. I've started a blog to help you become smarter, happier and richer. I'd like to ask you three questions that will allow me to help you:
A) What are the problems you are facing in your life, career, relationships ?
B) If you solved those problems what would your life look like ?
C) What are the obstacles in your way to achieving your goals ?
Mod Note (Andy): Best of 2016, this post ranks #24 for the past year