Have a viewpoint. Stand for something. If you don’t, you stand for nothing at all.
We don’t have to agree with others all of the time. But when you don’t, be respectful. Agree to disagree. You learn more from dialogue with someone you don’t agree with than with someone you agree with.
Plus, none of us are right all of the time. If someone says something that makes you potentially rethink a position or opinion, take the time to think about it or research the matter. Always try to speak from a position of knowledge, i.e. if you don’t know about a particular topic, don’t speak like you do. Those who do will know you are full of hot air and it will harm your reputation.
So don’t have a slinky for a spine. And know to keep quiet on topics you don’t know about. It will allow the backbone you should have not to be snapped, along with your reputation.
You can do better. You can be better. Always. If you don’t think so you are only fooling yourself. You must invest in yourself.
If you put your money in a can and bury it in your backyard, it will earn nothing. If you invest these funds instead, they will have the chance to grow. The corollary is if you do not take the time to improve yourself, to learn, you will become stagnant and, in this fast-paced world, probably be passed by others. If you instead work to improve you will grow.
This also should involve improving in your given business or in your personal life. It can be class related to what you do or guitar lessons or for me, keep up with current legal opinions.
I know you are busy. I know you don’t think you have time. But the truth is you don’t have time not to invest in yourself. If nothing changes, well, you get thee idea.
So think about what you can do by investing in yourself. It not only can make you a better professional or person, it will help improve the world around you, your world.
Be honest; don’t lie. And say what you mean. This seems simple, but too many people have trouble with what are to me qualities that we shouldn’t have to strive for. I mean talk about a low bar: be honest and forthright. And be this way all the time to everyone you deal with. You want people to believe in you.
The alternative is being two faced and dishonest. Can anyone honestly say that is the reputation they want? I hope not, because reputation is everything. People remember.
If you do right by saying what you mean and being honest, people will know they can trust you. Trust and respect are the foundation for all meaningful relationships, whether professional or personal.
This is not something you want to take for granted. When the time comes for you to jump off a proverbial cliff, there will be more people there to catch you, i.e. help you get to where you want to go, if you are credible and trustworthy.
Networking is about knowing more people. Connecting is about knowing people more. The distinction is obvious. You know a lot of people professionally and personally, but you are connected to only a fraction of those you know.
When you are at a business, social or charitable event, you likely will run into many people you know. But with many, you will know them “socially” or “professionally”, which is a way of saying you know them, who they are, but are not deeply connected with them and have no investment in their successes or failures.
I think a good example is a small town of say 1,000 people. In a small town, you are likely to know everyone else who lives there. At the same time, you will not be connected with 999 other people. Maybe you are connected with 40-70. This is because connection requires a deeper connection than simply meeting someone. It involves time, mutual respect and participation in the relationship by both people to become more than mere acquaintances.
Another good example is LinkedIn. I have 2,184 connections on LinkedIn. But it would be more truthful to say I am networked with 2,184 people because it is not possible for me to be connected to that many people. If I went through that list, maybe I am actually connected to 50 or 75 or 100 of those people, maybe more, but nowhere near 2,184. It’s just not possible.
True connections make up your community. People in communities care about their connections’ success and have a relationship built on mutual respect and trust, which have to be earned before someone in your network becomes an actual connection.
Once you have a connection, you are interested in transfer of knowledge and information and each other’s successes (and failures). When you reach this level you add another layer to the community you are building. So network with many to find the few solid people you want strengthen the foundation of your community and help you build the type of community you want to be a part of.
We live in a fast-paced transactional world. With the speed everything moves people sometimes resort to a text, email or similarly transactional electronic thank you. But if you resort to relaying a thank you by email, text or social media flavor of the month it is destined for the electronic scrapheap and likely will not be remembered. Be different and either write thank you notes or call.
It takes more time, and, yes, you may have to buy stamps if you write, but it leaves a lasting impression. I remember when I receive a letter or card thanking me for something much more so than a quick email, text or LinkedIn message.
The same goes for making a call. It doesn’t have to be a long call, just long enough to say “thank you.” You would remember that kind of call, wouldn’t you? The answer is of course.
You want people to remember you. The few minutes to write or call do this. Thank you letters, cards and calls never will go out of style. So are you willing to invest a little time in yourself?
That’s right. You need to know others to succeed. You need to know and have guides or mentors. You need to know your peers. You need to know your competition. And you need to start knowing these people from day one. Or if you did not start then, start today!
There are many ways to go about this. You can network with others alone or at events, collecting business cards and email addresses. You can build your online and social media presence. These methods can be the first introduction people have to you and what you are about.
And this takes work. It takes effort. It takes learning how to reach people. If you don’t know how, it is like making phone calls without a phone book; You may get someone to answer, but it will be treated like a wrong number, not helping you move forward professionally.
So get to know us because not only is it important over time, but it makes life more interesting.
Isn’t the real answer to that question “Yes, sometimes.” That’s because the source of inspiration mostly is unknown. That is why it can hit you at times that seem unlikely, such as the middle of the night or when you are in the shower.
It is not conscious and sneaks up on you instead. That is why you have to be open to it and embrace it when it comes. If you don’t, it is at your own risk of missing inspiration or letting it slide out of your mind. It reminds me of a line in the Bob Marley song Trenchtown Rock: “When it hits you, you feel no pain.” In the song he is speaking of music, but it works for inspiration too. It is the idea that it can come to you at any time.
So embrace inspiration whenever it is there. This may mean having paper and a pen on your night stand or walking out of a shower dripping wet to write an idea down. The idea is to be open to and accept inspiration when it is there so you remember and can act on your thoughts and ideas.
And then see where it can take you.
The people you associate with help determine your future. They matter when people think of you. We all know people who have a business partner or spouse most people don’t like or merely tolerate. If that is you are you self-aware enough to know, to admit it to yourself? If so, what keeps you with that person that regularly turns off others? And, yes, I understand emotional, mental or financial pain may be the reason.
That is why the choice on the front end is so important. Choosing who to work with or start a business with is as important as picking a spouse or partner, and vice-versa. Don’t be blinded by flash; substance matters in the long run. These types of choices are the biggest in life because they affect so much in your world. That is why choosing who is in your orbit should matter so much to you. If it doesn’t, it will show to others, color how they think of you and likely negatively affect your opportunities.
And I know people can change, but, think about it, changing into the person others do not want to be around doesn’t happen overnight. You are much better off choosing wisely at the beginning. If you do, the greater chance you have to avoid a painful split in the future, let alone the effect that person can have on your reputation. And business divorce is as painful and messy as a divorce from a spouse.
So keep good company and choose those who will matter and figure prominently in your professional and personal life carefully.
You can go it alone, but why? We all need help and guidance. You need to have people to go to with questions, to bounce ideas off of and to sound out ideas. It may be a mentor, a friend, a co-worker, well you get the idea. The key is to have one or more people who you trust to advise you and who you will listen to and consider what they say.
You are thinking that is obvious. But is it? Think about who this may be in your life. Do they advise you and take positions that don’t always agree with you? Because that is who you want. You want someone who is honest with you and tells you what they really think.
And while I indicate to heed that advice, maybe the better instruction is to listen well, consider the advice and then decide how to proceed. That is why you need to seek out advice from people you trust, will listen to, respect. Sometimes this means speaking with more than one person to obtain different perspectives on the same idea or issue.
If you do not have these people in your life, start by finding one. Look to your friends and acquaintances, competitors, professionals. Who you should be seeking out depends on you and your needs. But if you find one or more of these people it will help you work through thoughts, ideas, issues, etc. better.
Give it a try and you will see!
If we all were the same, the world would be a boring place. This is a favorite saying of mine. And it’s true. There always are “in” jobs and professions. I am sure most of us think of the tech space as in and seem impressed when someone has a job or internship with a Google, an Apple or similar tech related businesses.
For instance, you hear terms such as entrepreneur or startup all the time. Sometimes you hear them along with “incubator” or “co-working space”, which are in vogue at the moment.
Even if those terms describe you, your business or where you work, it is your individuality that makes you stand out to others. It also is your creativity and the ability to think outside of the box. Can you do that? It is hard to do something new or different. The ideas that seem so obvious weren’t to most of us. If you are an entrepreneur or in a startup, what makes you and your business stand out?
As part of the curriculum, colleges should teach creativity along with entrepreneurship, business, etc. It is good to be unique. It is good to think differently than others in your space.
Doing what others have done is safe and we need people to do many jobs that are decidedly not hip or “in”. Being safe or working one of the unhip jobs may make you a success. Being creative, unique and different has the possibility to make you a trailblazer, a visionary.
So are okay with the status quo or do you want to blaze your own trail??