"Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome." One of my favorite Arthur Ashe quotes. It very much represents how I feel about career management and development. The greatest accomplishment in my career is not the destination, where I am today, it's the amazing collection of friends, learning and experiences.
As I was tossing and turning in bed during one of those sleepless nights I found myself thinking about my sons and their careers. What will they accomplish and how will they run their race? What do they need to know that you'll never find in a book or a classroom? What have I mentored and coached that I have forgotten to tell them? In the end, I got out of bed and started typing.
This is the advice for the two millennial men that are my sons.......
What you do with what you know is more important than what you know. Your credentials and skills aren't entitlement, they're just potential door openers. You still have to 'do'.
If you believe you can, you will. The size of your faith and belief in yourself will define your capacity. Doubt and the frames we create for ourselves are the biggest killer of dreams you'll ever encounter.
Your next job isn't your last job, it's just your next job. Career are pyramids. If you build a strong, solid, wide base you'll go much further and higher in the end. Your next job will be the introduction to the position after that one. Be a builder.
Cultural fit is more important than how your skills and experience align. As managers our job to 'instill the will without killing the spirit'. If you find yourself somewhere where your spirit is being killed, you should build your exit strategy.
It will be necessary to move laterally or step back to get ahead at least once in your career. There is no shame in doing this. This is mission, it takes courage not ego.
It's always important to remember that everyone has a different dream. The very best leaders are those that enable people's dreams and understand that most of these dreams have nothing to do with work. Work is just an enabler. Be an enabler.
Leadership is not a popularity contest or a democracy. Budgets get cut. Companies are downsized or sold. Leaders don't count votes, they make difficult decisions. The loneliest job I ever had was CEO. Every decision that wouldn't/couldn't be made somewhere else ended up on my desk. None of them were popular but they were necessary.
There is nothing like a first impression and you don't get a second chance. Always having a compelling elevator pitch in your pocket is critical. Who you are, what you've done, and where you are going. It's that simple.
Flexibility and approaching your career and work as a series of opportunities in which we make mistakes but continuously improve will get you farther than treating opportunities as events. Think like a never ending stream or river not a waterfall.
The speed of the leader determines the rate of the pack. Some leaders move quickly and some continue to just kick the can down the road. Always understand the speed of the pack and stay out at the front.
Never, ever, talk badly about a client or your audience regardless of what they do. Others are watching you and will define your character based on what you do and say.
You must be able to ignore what's in your rear view mirror. When you leave a dept or a company there will be those that feel compelled to 'pee on your grave'. This happens in every move you will make throughout your career. Anticipate it. It's dirt off your shoulder.
In summary, there is no summary on this topic. Having enjoyed (and still enjoying) a long career across seven different industries, I'm still learning and this article isn't complete. If I'm able to heed my own advice, it will thankfully never be finished or complete.
About Mike McNamara:
Mike has held C-Suite, Executive and Senior Sales, Marketing, Business Development, and General Management roles with Equifax, Cox Enterprises, WW Grainger, and Federal-Mogul Corporation. Mike has led sales, service and operations organizations of over 1,500 associates and accountable for P&L responsibility in excess of $250M.
Dedicated to giving back, Mike formed The MBAR Group in 2009 with the sole intent of providing pro bono career and business consulting services to the under privileged and under served. Today he coaches a number of high profile media personalities as well as holding advisory board positions guiding a number of multimedia and small business startups.
Mike has a BS degree from Michigan State University, and MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. He is a past chapter President of the American Marketing Association. Mike and family split time between their adopted state of Missouri and family home in NW Michigan where their philanthropic causes include The Kingdom House - St Louis, BACN in Benzonia, MI., and Samaritan’s Purse, Boone NC.