By Tim Denning
Take a step back and think about a time you had a job or a job you have right now. Have you ever thought about what having that job has taught you? I went through this exercise recently, and I want to share with you my findings.
I have always had some part of my life dedicated to a pursuit of entrepreneurship, and that will never change, but having a job taught me lessons that I thought, based on what I had read, would never be valuable in any way.
In the short time I have had a job, these are the 15 lessons having a career has taught me about success:
1. You’re always an entrepreneur even if you don’t realise it
Starting work, I always believed that my entrepreneurship skills would be forgotten about. Then, as time went on I realised that no matter whether you have your own business, or you work in a business in any role, you’re an entrepreneur.
Why is this? Because when you work a job you are in charge of some small part of a business. This small part of the business is required to make money and function with a team of people. This is the same thing you have to do as an entrepreneur.
It’s so dumb yet so simple; you’re an entrepreneur whether you like it or not so get used to it, understand it, and embrace it!
Once you accept you’re an entrepreneur, and you treat your job like an entrepreneur would, you start to have more success than you could ever expect.
2. Making money is dead easy
Whether you have a job or a business it doesn’t matter; making money is easy. In a job, you either wow customers, or you wow stakeholders, or you wow somebody somewhere.
When you spend the majority of your day wowing people with your unique business skills, this become infectious.
This simple work trait makes everyone want to hire you and pay you more and more money. Why? Because the more people you wow, the more money the business makes.
The more money the business makes, the more the business wants to pay you as a percentage of that money you created.
All areas of a business make money no matter what not just a sales division. Don’t focus on making the money, focus on wowing everyone you work with through finding your unique way to create value.
Create more value than anyone else with your unique ability and you will become more successful than you could ever hope. That’s how easy it can be to make money, and I have certainly witnessed this myself.
3. Stay away from office politics
A universal lesson of any job or business environment is stay away from office politics.
When people are hating on someone or just hating in general, then get the hell away. Leave the office through an emergency exit if you have to, just evacuate out of there no matter what.
Office politics is meaningless, and it will suck your time and your ability to wow people away.
Wowing people takes time, and you don’t have time to get lost with the negative bystanders that claim to have all the answers, yet have never achieved any of their own success.
Spend time learning about what you can improve on rather than finding the faults of the people you work with or the company. Nothing in a business will be perfect, and that’s what is so great about it.
“It’s easy to be critical of others, but it’s super hard to be critical of yourself”
4. The positive one’s become leaders
I’ve seen many people in companies rise through the ranks, and there is one thing they all have in common; their incredibly positive people.
No matter how tough the business environment gets they just keep finding ways to add value.
Think about it, if you were part of a team that had a leader that was going to tell you that your business would fail, would you want to work for them? Of course not.
Positive thoughts and positive actions are what allow everyday people to rise up and become leaders in business.
If you struggle with behaving this way, then start hanging around more of these leaders. Take them to lunch, join their team, or do something for them without being asked.
5. Your network equals your net worth
Every good job, in every awesome company that I have ever seen, is filled through the influence of a network.
No one will hire you without checking up on you and seeing who you know. The better the quality of people in your network are, the more likely you are someone worth employing.
The best job always gets filled not through job advertisements, but through people’s network. I have been hired for one low paying job through an advertisement, and every other opportunity for work has come from someone in my network.
Life becomes so much easier when opportunities find you rather than depending on job ad’s to find your life’s work.
As your network gets stronger, so does your net worth (both emotionally and financially).
6. Be contactable and reliable
Having a job has taught me that you need to be contactable and reliable to be successful. Let me explain though what I mean. Being contactable means that your contact details have to be in a place where they can be easily found.
For me, my LinkedIn and Twitter both have my email address so that there is a way to talk with me directly. It seems obvious but when people want to engage an offer you opportunities they have to be able to get to you.
There is one pitfall of this advice, though; you will get lots of emails and phone calls. That’s okay though because you can decide what you respond too. I don’t answer 50% of phone calls and 80% of my emails are never read except for the email address and the subject line.
Once you take up an opportunity in the world of work the hard yards begin. What I’ve learned is that you just have to be reliable.
You have to be the guy that people can count on. This becomes possible when you prioritise and only focus on work related tasks that add value and are linked to your passion.
By being focused and being reliable, even without the skills for the job, you become highly sort after, and ultimately, very successful. This success becomes noticeable when you get to dictate the terms of your work.
7. Bring your hobby to work with you
Until recently, I didn’t quite understand that you could bring your hobby into your work environment. The way I did this was to spend time during work at a location that is in the same room as a team of social media analysts.
I don’t work in social media as part of my daily work, but I now sit next to them once a fortnight and work with them.
By doing this, I can have the best of both worlds and become even more passionate about my work. This passion then creates success in my life, and it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
At the same time, I have also begun teaching my work colleagues how to start blogging about their work and sharing ideas with the world. It’s not part of my role, but I have included it because it helps to create value.
This value then wows customers and internal stakeholders and so everybody wins.
When everybody wins, then you win. So, in your workplace, how can you bring your hobbies to work?
8. Say hello to people
In big organisations, there are lots of people. It’s so easy to be around people you don’t know.
From now on, when you’re in a situation like this I want you to say hello and ask at least one question. You will be amazed by the people you meet.
An excellent example of this is a guy I know who was working in technology and met a recruiter on a train ride.
After saying hello and striking up a conversation, this lead to him becoming the CTO of a very large and successful organisation. All of that came from saying hello!
9. Become everyone’s mentor
Start thinking of yourself as everyone’s mentor. Whenever anyone asks you anything respond from a place of wisdom and see yourself as their mentor.
Answer their questions in such a way that a mentor with years of experience would. Be vulnerable in your response and share a personal story.
Answer in a way that a mentor would by caring about the other person and genuinely wanting to help them (even if you can’t).
What having a job has taught me is that successful people in business act like mentors and it’s not hard for you to do the same.
10. Share all of your knowledge
The corporate world can be full of mysteries.
The secret to your success is to share all of your knowledge about the hidden tips that your colleagues don’t know. Tell people how you achieved a goal or how you made so many sales.
The knowledge you have can be obtained from other people or the Internet so just share what you know and don’t look back.
There is nothing in business that I am not willing to share. I believe, from what I’ve seen, this is what can make you successful.
11. Nice guys finish first
Cranky, rude, hard asses in business don’t get anywhere. Yes, they may seem successful because they don’t take anything from anyone, but at the same time, they don’t give anything valuable to anyone either.
One thing I have noticed in business is that the nice guys always finish first. In the short term it may seem like they lose, but in the long-term, they outperform and overachieve more than anyone else.
Everyone wants to deal with nice, friendly, caring people. No one wants to deal with a knob!
12. Be assertive
Business involves lots of negotiation no matter what your role is. If you don’t have a level of assertiveness (which comes from being on purpose) people will walk all over you like a doormat.
Assertiveness in business comes from a sense of urgency that there is something you must achieve. This attitude creates assertiveness because you become unwavering in your mission, and you have the skills to create value.
When you know you have significant value within your part of a business, and it’s time to negotiate, you have to be assertive without being rude, around what your terms are and how much you perceive this value to be worth.
“Success at work is largely dependant on what you’re willing to settle for”
13. Create a WOW for a small group of customers
All of my success at work has come from some form of focus. Rather than trying to spread yourself across a thin layer of customers, to be successful, you must find a small group of them and then wow them no matter what.
Understand what these customers’ expectations are and then deliver more than they bargained for.
If you do this, you will quickly create a small group of raving fans. These customers then become your testimonials and your referral source.
For non-sales jobs, this small group of customers become your advocates, and they create the good feeling that makes you want to come to work.
You can also allow their opinions of you to get yourself a higher position in the business as a leader.
14. The chopping block comes around for all
The nature of any business big or small is that the chopping block will come around at some point.
This happens because all companies need change and no one’s position is guaranteed. Through my time in business, I have seen many redundancies and people get fired.
It’s inventible in business, and nothing lasts forever. If this happens to you or someone you know, then it’s nothing but a positive. It means a new beginning and a chance to rebuild and meet new people.
Always be humble at work and understand that your role could end tomorrow. Successful people understand, plan, and embrace this fact.
15. Working hard is dumb
The source of so many LinkedIn picture quotes is the idea that working hard is smart. I disagree.
Through my journey in business, I have realised that working hard is the dumbest thing you can do! The best advice I have been given is to be productive, so you don’t have to work yourself into the ground.
This doesn’t mean you should be lazy; it just means you should be good at work that creates value so that you can block out everything else that takes up your time and forces you to work a ridiculous amount of hours.