I knew from an early age that business is my life’s passion. I was fascinated by my father’s metal forging company, and spent many Saturdays tagging along to his office, where I colored his sales charts. I’ve learned much about business and management since those days spent with my crayons on his office floor. The best advice for how to succeed hasn’t come from personal development and management training seminars, but from my family, friends, and colleagues. Some common sense rules continue to guide my career and my life.
First, do what you love, and love what you do. Each of us needs to discover what makes us want to get up in the morning. For me, this is management: I enjoy the challenge of melding a group of people together and moving them in a direction that is good for the business, as well as for their personal development. Is there one thing that you love so much you would do it for free? Then do it, and find a way to get paid for it. Don’t live for the weekends and settle for a job you hate. Embrace work as part of a full life. Get a broad base of experience, as early as possible. Following college graduation, I accepted a job that allowed me to rotate through several organizations and assignments. That experience taught me a great deal about my new company, revealed skills and interests I didn’t know I had, and laid the foundation for many future assignments.
Identify the path to success within your company. Businesses tend to have one or two major operations that are viewed as critical or produce company leaders. Ask your managers and colleagues which functions have the most career development potential, and actively seek those assignments. Don’t allow yourself to be pulled in too many directions. A mentor once advised me to focus a bulk of my time on one or two projects that would generate tangible results. Identify what your business needs, and find a way to move the needle.
And finally, don’t forget there is life outside the office. I love my job, but I also love my family, kayaking, and riding horses. If I dedicate my entire life to my career, not only will I miss out on these things, I’ll be a less satisfied and valuable leader and employee. Remember that results are more important than face time—and have the courage to gently remind managers, employees, and colleagues when they forget. Though I am energized and fulfilled by my job, what matters in the end are the people I love.
Though my jobs have been demanding, I was there whenever it was important to my family. I don’t regret it, and my career hasn’t suffered for it.