This year I have been working in marketing for 10 years. Wow. I’m getting older. As a special Christmas present I’d like to share with you my 10 most important lessons from those 10 years. If you’re getting started in your career then maybe they’ll help. Happy Christmas.
- Stop being so formal.
I quickly had to get out of the habit of adding unnecessary fluff around my emails. I didn’t need to say “thanks for your email” or “I’m writing to you because”. I needed to get in, get to the point and get out.
- Stop being so British.
After giving a presentation, a colleague gave me some excellent advice: stop softening what I was saying in “British” language. Stop saying “Hopefully this will meet your needs” and instead say “This is what you asked for.” Be more direct because Americans and non-native speakers will find it easier to understand you.
- Take as much training as possible.
It doesn’t usually cost you anything except time. It improves your skills. And it looks good on a performance review or CV. Why wouldn’t you do this?
The best way to do this is to stop thinking about people as powerful work people. Don’t be intimidated. People are just people. Find something in common and be friendly.
- Learn when you should say yes and when you should say no.
I’m not suggesting that you lie and say you have skills that you don’t. But, if someone offers you a chance you want: take it. But don’t take on other people’s responsibilities if it’s not your job and you don’t have the time or the work doesn’t stretch you.
- Learn how to best support your boss.
They’re a person. They’ve got a boss of their own they need to support. They’re trying to do a good job. How can you support them? Not just doing the work they give you but being pro-active about taking things off their plate that might be easier for you to do. I’m not talking about doing their expenses, I’m talking about chasing people up. Sending emails. Calling vendors. Whatever it may be.
- Have a system.
Keep track of things. Prioritize. I’m obsessed with to-do lists. I think about mine at the start of every day and the first thing I do when I start work each morning is write a new one in Evernote. Evernote is digital notebook software that helps me stay on top of everything. Others use their email and a piece of paper. Experiment, but find what works for you to stay organized. Whatever your job, this is a vital skill.
- Quality over speed.
People are less impressed by how fast you do things and more impressed by how well you do them. I struggle with this one everyday. I want to move down my list and tick things off when sometimes I need to double check the email before I send it. Because in my haste I might have missed a word.
- Find a mentor.
I’ve had several mentors over the years, some official and some less so. People love giving advice – they want to help. Find some people who have the time, the knowledge and who you get along with, then ask them. They can only say no.
- Have fun!
If you hate your job, you’re in the wrong one. You are free. So stop complaining and find something new.
And that’s my top 10. Actually writing them out has helped me. Maybe I should add “Write more lists” to the list? I also really wanted to add “Say thank you” as well. But, really that’s a lifeskill rather than a business one. Thanks for reading!
What’s your biggest piece of advice for someone in their first 10 years of work? Let me know in the comments below.