Didn’t realize it was Job Action Day? Me neither – and I’ve been working in career development for almost 10 years (with my company, WORKS – a partner to LoebNYC). So I did a little research and discovered that this auspicious occasion was created in 2008 by LiveCareer. In the spirit of 2017’s theme; “Survive and Thrive: Using Transferable Skills to Give Your Career New Life,” I’ve picked the top three transferable skills we need to continually hone if we want to kick-ass in our careers.
One day, I decided to go running. I got back and said to my then-husband, “I just ran 15 minutes.” He was like, “that’s great, babe.” The next day I went out and ran a little further. I texted him at work: I ran 20 minutes. He came home that night and presented me with a sports watch so I could track my progress. The next morning, I went out, ran past my 25-minute marker, looked down at the watch and discovered I’d only run 7 fucking minutes. The point of this story is that when we’re doing something that is challenging, we tend to overestimate not underestimate, the amount of time we spend doing it.
You might have read Malcolm Gladwell’s, Outliers: The Story of Success (if you haven’t, pick it up). He suggests it takes 10,000 hours to get to phenom status. That’s a lot of time, a lot of dedication, and a tough threshold to reach when you’re sneaking peeks at your Instagram every fifteen minutes. Managing your time is no different than managing your money or your weight – tracking your progress is the key. Pick a skill, goal, passion project that you’d like to succeed at and track how many hours you actually spend doing it. My guess is that you’re going to be surprised.
Ten-thousand hours doesn’t come without commitment, and the root of your commitment is your ‘why.’ Why are you doing what you’re doing? For me, my mom worked in a paint factory while I was growing up and I hated how it sucked the life out of her. My why started out as, “Sure as shit that won’t be me,” but it turned into something larger, “I want to help others.” There’s a secret to the why, the deeper you go… the more altruistic you go, the more likely you are to sustain it. Your first answer may be “To pay the rent,” but think about what you’re contributing to the world, how you’re making people’s lives better, dig into that ‘why’ and find the wellspring of motivation. Another book suggestion. Pick up Simon Sinek’s, Start With Why and find one of my favorite quotes as it relates to business; “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” What’s your why?
I was in the office of the Academy Award-winning producer of Silver Linings Playbook – in the pitch of my life. I was out of my mind nervous and used the trick of the trade in that kind of situation: get the focus off of you. I looked around his office, and on his wall was the framed Oscar-winning card with American Beauty printed on it (another film he produced). I asked, “What was that moment like?” He took a minute to think about it and told me a story about allowing himself to want, really want, to win, so that in the event he did win he could sink into the moment.
Anyways, the meeting was a success and months later he told me, “You know, I’ve had the envelope framed on my wall for years. Everyone is so busy pitching me, no one thinks to ask about it.” Our natural inclination when trying to build a relationship is to make sure we get seen and heard and that’s all well and good but the truth is the best way of making a good impression is by letting them take the lead, especially when it’s you in the selling seat. Be armed with questions like; “What do you wish you would have known going into that situation?”, “What was that moment like?”, “Why did you make that decision?”
The above tactics are applicable and useful, whether you are looking to grow your current career, switch to a new career – or are simply looking for greater satisfaction in your current role.
After working both as a Career Counselor and as a Sr. Business Consultant, Nicole Williams founded WORKS in 2006, with the help of Michael Loeb. Nicole had the vision of building a business that not only helps young women create the careers of their dreams, but also supports the companies attempting to recruit and retain them as employees, and the businesses that are interested in providing products and services aimed at enriching their lives.
WORKS is a career brand dedicated to inspiring, revitalizing, educating and energizing professional women striving towards career success. Today, under the WORKS banner, and with an incredible team, Nicole Williams has authored three bestselling books: Wildly Sophisticated: A Bold New Attitude for Career Success, Earn What You’re Worth, and Girl on Top. She has worked with Fortune 500 companies including LinkedIn, Ford Motor Company, Banana Republic, The Limited, and Proctor & Gamble on hiring, retention & marketing programs. Nicole has had her career advice covered in national outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Marie Claire, TODAY, Good Morning America & CNN.