The Best Career Advice I Ever Received

Businessman smiling

Happy businessman | Source: iStock

Do you ever wish you could get a collection of the best advice from top career experts? Well, now you can. The Cheat Sheet chatted with leading career experts to get their pearls of wisdom when it comes to making all the right moves at work. Here are their tips for how to race to the top of your career ladder.

Choose your career wisely

The best career advice I ever got was from my father. It did take me a while to absorb it.  But eventually, while standing in a pool of sewage, holding a sewer rooter with a badly frayed chord [sic], I realized the value of my father’s advice that “you’ve got to have a profession, one where you can make a comfortable living comfortably.” And I understood just exactly why he’d worked so hard to put me and my brothers and sisters through college.

Barry Maher, stress management and leadership expert and author of Filling the Glass: The Skeptic’s Guide to Positive Thinking in Business

Focus on personal growth

Focus on personal growth. Compensation, title, responsibility and company/product all should take a back seat. Maximize your future potential by choosing a role in which you will learn the skills and acquire the experiences that you’ll need later on in your career. If you have the aspiration to start your own company one day, then take a job at a small company so you see the challenges and learn firsthand.

Jordan Wan, founder and CEO of CloserIQ

 Take advantage of opportunities

Grab every opportunity, even if you don’t have a clue how to do the job. Figure it out!

Ruth Nemzoff, Ed.D., Scholar at the Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center


Focus on your own path

Man walking up stairs

Man climbing stairs | Source: Thinkstock

Be clear about your hopes. What are your hopes? Why are they important to you? These questions sound simple, but they are profoundly powerful. Too often, people focus on the hottest jobs, how to get ahead, and what others are doing to succeed. In short, they play off of other people’s scripts for success rather than write their own talent story. This advice shifted my attention from what others are doing to what I want to do and what gives me fulfillment. It took delving deeper into why my hopes are important to get to bedrock. Once I hit that bedrock, however, it made other decisions easier. I was clearer about where I wanted to go. It helped me ask others about ways to help me realize my hopes rather chase what others are doing. It gave me the strength of uniqueness to pursue my path rather than feel that I’m in competition with others. I enjoy feeling called to do my work.

Don Maruska, master certified coach and author of How Great Decisions Get Made and Take Charge of Your Talent.

Cultivate your network

The Office

The Office, building relationships at the beach | NBC

Care for and cultivate your network of colleagues and friends, especially when you don’t need them. Make sure every person you ever had a good working relationship with is someone you initiate contact with for the rest of your career, even if it’s just a 15-minute phone call once a year. In the 20 years before I launched my own business, I never held a job that had been advertised, and I was never unemployed for more than a few weeks. It allowed me to leave jobs I didn’t want to stay in without worrying about what would happen next. When I started my firm, it was profitable in the very first year because people I had stayed in contact with and helped in small ways over time, and gave me referrals and business.

John J. Brady, M.B.A., M.Ed., executive director & principal, Protem Partners, LLC

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