Lessons in Life and Work
Somehow, accidentally, I've found myself in my mid-twenties. Like many millennials, I'm now a full-fledged grownup. I'm a little over three years past finishing my undergraduate degree in Russian (yes, really), 1/3 of the way into a graduate program for an MS in Informatics, and 3 years into my career. This particular blog isn't about inbound marketing, but it's about things I've learned that help me here and elsewhere. I'm sure I'll learn at least 25 more lessons in my next quarter-century.
1. You Don't Get Jobs Off Craigslist
Some people find success acquiring employment through Craigslist, LinkedIn Jobs, Monster, or any number of other online forums where employers post opportunities. Many others don't. I didn't find my current role at IMA that way - I found it through a personal recommendation from someone who knew me well enough to recommend my work. As one of my Facebook friends said "it's how grownups get jobs."
If you're seeking a new opportunity and your network pool is shallow, blasting your resume off to strangers about opportunities you're only marginally qualified for probably won't be as effective as meeting people and working with them in volunteer groups and similar.
2. Your Boss isn't Your Professor
One of the hardest truths to ever slap me in the face - it happened pretty quick after college -is that your boss isn't your Professor. Once you walk across the stage with your diploma, it's up to you to identify, find, and fund ways to become a better professional. This includes building relationships with mentors, graduate studies, professional groups, and more. You've got to grow yourself.
3. MS Office isn't a Skill
Neither is typing. And people will believe you much more that you're a "experienced facilitator of communications" if you're able to quantify results by pointing to real situations where your presence helped. HTML, CSS, and Adobe Photoshop are kind of the new baseline for success in many roles.
4. Managing Up is a Thing
There's jargon, and then there's trendy ways to describe actual phenomenon that will help you in your life. I've come to see that "managing up," the idea of adjusting your own work style to work optimally with your manager, is actually a valuable and important practice.
5. Quality Trumps Quantity
It's always worth it to spring for better things - both in the quality of work you produce, and the items you bring into your home. I just hope I've got the foresight to never buy a "cute" pair of cheap heels again.
6. Comparing Yourself to Others is Stupid
I'm pretty sure this has made it's way onto every "things I've learned" list that's ever been published online. Well, it's true. There's plenty of people who are taller, more athletic, more talented and have better tastes in music than myself. Especially the latter. It's never helped me in any way to compare myself to them.
7. Life is Too Short to Watch "Two and a Half Men."
I'll be the first to admit that I don't live a television-free existence. I most recently binged on Doctor Who. However, life's really too short (and you've got too much to do) to get into the habit of mindlessly turning on the television and watching filler shows.
There's plenty of people out there who regret failing to floss. Or so I hear.
9. Save Your Money
One of my Professors recently pointed out to me that many Chinese individuals save in excess of 20% of their income. I'm not going to get all Dave Ramsey up in here, but saving is smart.
10. Fail Fast
I'm pretty sure Marissa Mayer should be credited for making that concept popular. I'll be honest - I'm still figuring it out. But it's just good business and life management.
11. Time is a Non-Renewable Resource
That saying is spooky enough to really put things in perspective, right? Be fierce about protecting your time - at work, and at home, by refusing to spend your time being unproductive or around crummy people.
12. Be Someone with Gravitas
Gravitas is a Latin word for one of the original Roman virtues - it means dignity, weight, and intellectual substance. If you're going to study something - from inbound marketing to informatics - really immerse yourself in it. Not as a widget for gaining "thought leadership," but in order to be someone worthy of professional respect.
13. Data Doesn't Lie
Data is another way of saying cold, hard facts. Thanks to the internet, we've suddenly got a ton of it, and really need people with the ability to base strategy off of it. If you've got a dream of succeeding in business or marketing in the decade to come, you should probably be a little more than conversational in analytics.
14. Energy Drinks are Terrible
They're pretty much the absolute worst. If you need them to get through your day, there's a good chance you're not taking adequate care of yourself. Sleep more.
15. Care About Something Outside Work
I'm what they call an "engaged workaholic." I like being productive to the point when it's been all I've done in the past. Work, school, whatever. It's not healthy. Find something outside of work you care about enough to become an expert at. For me, it's somewhere between collecting old books and candlesticks, and making the perfect hybrid beef-bacon burger.
16. Support Local Artists and Artisan Products
You know how many times I've regretted paying 20% more for a loaf of bread that was made in my hometown by someone following their dream? Exactly zero. Handmade, local stuff doesn't fall apart, either.
17. You're Your Best Advocate
If you're not willing to fight for what you want, who else will? Become your own advocate for career success and personal happiness, and don't throw up the white flag in battles that really matter. Closed mouths don't get fed.
18. Cloud Storage. Use it.
Computers get stolen. They get covered in coffee. That stuff you've put on your desktop since the last time you backed it up (ha!) is gone forever. Use cloud storage as a habit, not an exception.
19. Adopt an Old Dog
At the risk of sounding like a crazy dog lady (guilty), adopting a 7 year-old mutt was the best decision I ever made. She's fantastic, loyal, mellow and came pre-trained.
20. Networking - You (Might Be) Doing it Wrong
Networking isn't where you go to a crowded event, shake hands, and add people on LinkedIn. It's when you join a local organization, give back, and make genuine connections along the way.
21. "How Can I Help You?" Works
"I'm sorry" is a magically powerful phrase. So is "thank you." However, I firmly believe that "how I can help you" is firmly underused at work and in life. Try it sometime.
22. Don't Burn Bridges
Look, people can be jerks. They really can. But even the biggest cities are really just small towns - always give people your best self.
23. Patience is a Virtue
I can't even begin to tell you how many hours I've wasted being annoyed about things I couldn't control. Waste of time.
24. Hating Your Boss is Basically the Most Unproductive Thing You Can Do
That's really all. Find a new job or learn to manage up (see #4).
25. Appreciate Your Parents
Parenting is ridiculously difficult, and even more thankless. Reward them.
What have you learned along the way?Dustin J McClure via photopin cc