How to Succeed in Business With Really Trying

Struggling Uphill Man With Ball Shows Determination

How to Rise to the Top

It isn’t too early to begin thinking about how you’re going to move your career forward next year. It’s up to you to make your career happen. Take stock of what you learned this year and the mistakes you’ve made – and avoid making them again.

Getting Ahead On Your Terms

Like many of the attendees at a recent jam-packed New York Women in Communications (NYWICI) program, I was wowed by the advice of a panel of accomplished women business executives who discussed how to have a successful career by getting ahead on your own terms. Jean Chatzky, NBC’s Today Show financial editor, moderated the panel.

The advice of these experts applies to everyone, regardless of gender.

Here are my key takeaways from that stimulating discussion that could help you in planning for your next career move:

Entrepreneurism. Act like you own the business, even if you work for a company. Be innovative and learn how to take the calculated risks that will help you get that next promotion or next account.

Hard work. It just isn’t going to happen for you if you’re not willing to work hard. This doesn’t necessarily mean long hours, although you’ll no doubt find yourself burning the midnight oil over the course of your career. It means putting forth new ideas and volunteering for that extra assignment that will get you noticed.

Professional relationships. No one gets to the top without help. It’s essential to build relationships within your organization and with professionals outside your company.

Network, network, network. Keep adding new connections to your network and building those professional relationships. You never know who could be helpful to your career. Join professional organizations like NYWICI. Be sure it isn’t a one-way street by offering to help others. No one likes someone who always takes but doesn’t give.

The Key to Innovation

Collaboration is the key to innovation, according to panelist Jeannine Shao Collins, EVP, Chief Innovation Officer, Meredith 360.

Measure success The magic only happens when a number of people own the idea. The internal sell is very important. When you have an idea don’t push it until you get buy-in across all sectors of the company, she cautions.

On the other hand, if you don’t ask for something you won’t get it. 90% of life is selling up.

Failing and growing and trying are the sum of the experiences that make you who you are. She urged that you put yourself out there and go for it. If you do what you love, it doesn’t feel like work. If you’re in a place you don’t like, move on.

Target Corporation hired Dustee Tucker Jenkins as VP of Public Relations to bring a new perspective to PR and to change the old ways of doing things.

They started by brainstorming new ideas. Everyone was accountable for bringing their ideas to fruition. She encouraged her team to take risks. If something didn’t work, they didn’t look on it as a failure but used it as a learning experience.

Dustee also understood that Target’s style was very different from her previous jobs. Her father taught her that you can’t implement changes all at one time. As time passes you’ll be absorbed into the culture.

You have a fresh pair of eyes when you’re new to an organization. Her Dad suggested she keep a journal to write down her observations. He also said to wait until the organization is ready for change to implement something new. Dustee revisited her diary often over the first year to recall the ideas she had when she first got to Target and was more objective. This helped her keep a fresh perspective over time.

Learn From Your Mistakes

Cathie Black learned from her mistake of accepting the position as School Chancellor of New York City. Now a private investor, Cathie is former Chairman and President, Hearst Magazines.

She accepted the Chancellor job because she wanted to make a difference. It was the first time in her career that she was ever fired. In retrospect, Cathie said she should have trusted her gut. The job wasn’t a good fit because she lived on Park Avenue and had two children in private school.

Cathie said her key learning was to not be afraid to make a mistake. Focus on what you’re good at and trust your gut. Be bold, but know it may not work. Then move on to the next thing.

Debra Shriver, SVP/Chief Communications Officer, Hearst Corporation laughed when Cathie told a story about when they worked at Hearst. Deb stormed into Cathie’s office (who was her boss at the time) demanding to know why she wasn’t invited to a meeting. Cathie told Deb to go to the meeting as there were so many people on the invitation list that everyone would just assume she was invited. Deb did exactly that and ended up running the meeting!

Cathie’s point was that you need a reason for wanting something important. That’s when a discussion is necessary as is the ability to “sell up.” Deb didn’t need to ask for permission to attend the meeting. It wasn’t that important.

To Sum Up These Golden Nuggets

The sum total of all the experiences of these very accomplished women could fill several books:

  • Live your best life even though life is about imbalance.
  • Learn from the best and brightest and apply their lessons learned to your career.
  • Evaluate what your time is worth and where you want to spend it.
  • No matter how painful your mistakes were, time heals all wounds. Get to the other side, evaluate, and don’t make the same mistakes again.
  • Life isn’t fair. That doesn’t mean you give up. Give yourself more ammunition to succeed.
  • Be positive. No one likes someone who moans and groans and complains.
  • Seek honest feedback about your performance.
  • Find out what’s not working and fix it.
  • Be curious about things outside of work.
  • Focus on what you’re good at.
  • Learn to reinvent yourself.
  • Eliminate the jerks in your life.
  • It’s lonely at the top. As the boss, remember that you’re not there to make new friends. Happy hour is for the employees, not the boss.

What would you add to this list? What lessons have you learned from your wins and losses?

2 comments to How to Succeed in Business With Really Trying

  • Great post and full of solid advice. Especially like the point about working hard DOES NOT necessarily equate to long hours. We’ve all seen people waste time, not think projects through, etc. only to lament about having to work late night after night.

  • John Marcus

    I loved the blog – jam-packed with useful information. It also triggered this expression: Good judgment comes from experience; experience comes from poor judgment.

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