The Career Manifesto
My friend Mike Steib, former Googler, current CEO of XO Group, and a guy with a ridiculously full head of hair for a 40+ year old, recently published a great book entitled The Career Manifesto, based on a Jerry Maguire-esque mission statement he had written many years ago while working at Google. Writing a book is no small feat so I’m super-happy for Mike and his success. You can learn more about The Career Manifesto on Amazon.
Mike’s book really provides an excellent framework for managing your career. Most of us are so busy every day, that we forget to take the long view on our career. Reading Mike’s book was a good reminder that it’s important to define your goals and think about what it’s going to take to achieve them. I wish I had this book earlier in my career. I’d say it’s a must-read for young professionals starting their career journey.
I thought I’d add a few points of my own to Mike’s book. Here they are.
- Always be Stretching: In your career, you have to continually look for ways to learn and grow. If you wait around for your boss to put together a development plan for you, you’ll be waiting a long time. It’s important look for ways to push yourself outside your comfort zone and learn new things. Hiring managers look for 2 key things: (1) can you do the job and (2) can you stretch beyond the job. If you can’t demonstrate that you can stretch, you’re destined to be a subject matter expert. For some that’s not a bad thing. For others with larger ambitions, that will be too limiting.
- Have a point of view and share it: When you’re constantly “doing”, you’re not always thinking. Take time to really develop a point of view about your expertise. Write that point of view down on paper. Share it with peers. Get it published in a magazine. Speak about it on a panel at an industry event. You’ll be surprised to find that people actually are interested in what you have to say. And having a point of view will help you in your career. The next time your CEO asks you what you think about a given topic, instead of stumbling through it, you’ll have a sharp and well thought out response. Even if your CEO doesn’t agree, he or she will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of chemistry: You’re never going to get along with everyone you work with. But, with your boss and direct reports, having good chemistry is critical. If the chemistry is bad, you have to try to fix it. But, sometimes you just have to make a move to get out of a tough situation. Oh, and if you have bad chemistry with everyone your work with, take a good look in the mirror because the problem is you.
- Look for quick wins while focusing on the long view: Big projects take a long time. There’s no way around it. But, if you take too long to get things done, you might be labled as “ineffective”. That might not be fair, but that’s how it is. So, while you’re working the larger projects, find some quick wins. There are always small things that can use some polishing. That will demonstrate that you can get things done and give people more confidence in your abilty to deliver the bigger projects.
- If you’re bored in your job, the only person to blame is yourself: When I was a student I studied abroad in London. On our first day of class, my teacher said, “If you’re bored with London, you’re bored with life”. I thought that was a great line. The same applies to your job. But, I’ve heard a lot of people say, “I’m just bored at work” or “I’m not challenged anymore”. I hate when people say that. As a manager, it drives me nuts. If you are bored, you have a responsbility to fix the problem. Find a new project. Take some initative. Seek out a problem in the company and try to solve it on your own. In any business, there are tons of challenges that are really interesting. If you can’t find one to work on, shame on you.
What do you think? How do you manage your career? How do you set your goals? Feedback welcome.
And make sure to check out Mike’s book, the Career Manifesto, available on Amazon. Or I guess you could go to a bookstore.