Nine Things I've Learned in the Last Five Years

  1. Good Relationships can be huge. Bad relationships can be toxic. I was lucky to work for and with some great managers, directors and executives. I also had some bad ones. The key is to leverage and enhance the good relationships and avoid creating nary a ripple in the ones that are not so. Remember, it’s not you, as long as it’s not you.
  2. If you haven’t met the people you work for and with, make a point of doing so. A lot of work these days is being done remotely and virtually. If that is indeed your situation, you need to get on a plane and create a reason to go see the people you work for and with. The more that they can associate your voice with a nice warm smile, the better off you will be. I didn’t do enough of that.
  3. Text messaging. Avoid it if you can when dealing with your work life. It only came back to bite me one time but it was a big bite. The problem with texting is that context can be lost. The same holds true for emotion, sentiment and inflection, they all can be interpreted differently. Texting, strips it away. Tread lightly is all I can say and be very careful and selective on what are you are ready to send and when.
  4. Here comes the bus. On virtual teams, you’ll work with people that you barely know. You’re all part of a global team. Know that there’s a chance that you will be thrown under the bus. It could be that you are a perceived threat or it could be that they just don’t like the way you talk or present or they’re deflecting their poor work on to you. Either way, know that you’re not necessarily there to make “them” happy as much it is about the deliverables. Do great work, document everything and watch your back.
  5. In the same breath as #4, disparaging someone on your team, does you no good. You know nothing about them. You work with them but unless you’re going to lunch with them and you hang out with them, it’s not your job to volunteer that they suck. If their work is affecting your performance, then you take the appropriate course of action. If they suck, eventually, the truth comes out. Going out of your way to dog someone else because you think it will help you? Your Momma raised you better.
  6. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Nothing lasts forever, especially if it’s project work. If you rely on one project, what happens when that project ends? Exactly. Keep filling the funnel and keep your eyes and ears open for additional work. This is where #1 on the list becomes crucial. I was lucky enough to have that situation happen to me in both a positive way and a negative way. Always be hunting for more work.
  7. Success is not final, failure is not fatal. Thanks Winston Churchill. I live by these words daily and you should too. I’ve had some really good years and some really lean years but the key for me was always to maintain an even keel. Don’t get too high nor too low. Just stay steady in your approach to everything. This includes on the clock and off the clock.
  8. When the opportunity is clear and present, don’t delay, seize it. The longer you wait to say yes, the further away the chance becomes. There is also no margin for saying maybe and never say no until you are absolutely sure you can’t do what was asked. Know that just like in professional sports, when someone gets hurt, their replacement can be equal if not better. The same holds true here as well.
  9. Take on more responsibility. When you can create more value, do it. Even if it’s out of your comfort zone and could add more to your plate, the chance to do more can only help you. Think long term, as in the value now and the value later when someone is asking about your previous experience. Ask questions if you have to. Learn new stuff if you can and make sure you grow but not stagnant.

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