Like many boys, I played in dirt a lot when I was young. Guess that was a harbinger of things to come 'cuz I love dirt. Not enough to be a farmer, you see, but enough so that I want to deal with sticky problems. More importantly, I am attracted to people who have messy problems. Sales management problems. Selling problems. Communication problems. I love helping people who are dealing with those sticky, dirty business problems that plague us each day.
Many of you may have seen a change from me in the last few weeks. I've been much more "far forward" (to pull a publishing layout term) regarding my views and thoughts. I've created more content in the past two weeks on Twitter than I have in my previous years combined (and I've been on that platform since 1998!). ;-)
And, I'm using this blogging platform here more frequently too. (Let's not forget my hall-of-fame monthly newsletter, Selling.2.YES, soon heading in to its second year of publishing reaching a global audience!) All of my increased activity is thanks to a wonderful and smart, smart, smart social marketer named Jeanne Sachs (@jlsachs and here on LinkedIn). Jeanne taught me a few tricks and helped me utilize tools - including my brain - in ways that are necessary for success as a sole-proprietor. Jeanne's smart (did I mention that?), and I'm now back in charge of my voice.
Bottom line, I eat what I kill. Wouldn't have it any other way. I work in the dirt.
During my big coming out party on social media of late, I've been reminded there are many folks out there who are fantastically smart and do wonderful things. And I'm in awe of their achievements. Mostly I'm in awe of how sharp folks are in framing their talents, skills, and accomplishments. And promoting themselves. Many of them post beautiful poster headers on LinkedIn or Twitter of them in front of throngs of people, delivering content and inspirations that are, no doubt, provocative and valuable.
I can do that too.
But I love working in the dirt. Got a problem? Know someone in your org with a problem? I'm available.
How 'bout just for today we refer to me as Dr. Dirt. Love that!
The airline industry is excited about recent tech developments made in weather forecasting which will save them millions of dollars a year. It was recently reported by the NY Times that Honeywell is rapidly selling their new IntuVue 3D radar system into many airlines hoping the captains can see dangerous weather ahead and make adjustments en route to their destination. This, of course, means a smoother ride for us and perhaps, less delays.
Reading about this in the NY Times, I got to thinking about how we manage our careers for turbulence. Best I know, there is no such thing as an IntuVue 3d system that will spot trouble ahead for each of us. And, nobody is immune to what comes down the road. After all, a certain percentage of you will... (fill in the blank: get downsized, get fired, work for a jerk, lose your edge due to health issues, be forced to move to another town due to personal issues, etc, etc).
A career is long in many ways, but it has to be managed strategically or it won't be as long as you want it to be. The best time to start asking these questions is when you're hitting your stride...which for most of us is in our early 30s. Challenge yourself when you're doing well and getting traction, and you might have the fortitude and vision to make it through another 3 decades of growth and prosperity with only a few minor cuts and scratches.
In honor of you being the Pilot of your career flight, I came up with a few items which I'll share to add insight on how to look for turbulence.
1. Do not think you're immune to curve balls. You're going to make a bad decision on joining a company. You're going to work for someone who starts out nice but turns out to be unsupportive. You're going to work for a company that hits some bad times. You're probably going to get fired once or twice...it happens. It's called reality. Be prepared mentally.
2. Plan for bad weather. Cliche, yes. But oh so true. Of course you want the new BMW 4-series. Yes, you love those shoes that you saw in the window. Yes, going to Turkey in the spring with your bestie sounds great. And you should have all those things. But it should not be at the expense of stocking away some cash. Some financial experts say you should tithe 10% of your earnings to a "can not touch account"...some say you should have 3 months salary in the bank. I say all of that is way too conservative. Put as much away as you can above 10%. Money equals freedom and independence and you'll want to have time down the road to make some important decisions about who to work for at any given time. Money in the bank will buy you that time.
3. Talk to others about their career path. Learning about what a career path looks like in your line of work is really important. Talk to folks about how they got to where they are, but more importantly, where are they going. Listen. Consider. And then, you can make plans regarding job pivots that need to happen to keep you going forward.
4. Be open to honest assessments about your skill set. Look yourself in the mirror and admit what you're good and not good at. Also, survey your co-workers. Not just one or two, and not folks who will tell you what you want to hear, but those who watch and see with wisdom and experience. Take it to heart and do something about it.
5. Consider a professional to help you navigate the decisions and skill development issues you need to address. The more you are in control of your plan means the better your reality will be over the long haul.
Numbers 1 to 4 you can do on your own, when you're ready for #5, call me. I've developed a lot of talent and know how to make you feel good about it along the way. Cheers!
(If you want to learn more about the Honeywell technology, click here - but be warned it's slightly strong on the 'promotion' aspect).
Michael Hess is the Founder/Principal of Core 6 Management Advisors. Drawing on almost 3 decades of experience in Sales and Management, Michael shares his thoughts and opinions here for you.