Sunday, February 6, 2011

Have fun. Laugh. Eat Cake. Repeat.

Adapted from a new note sent by an old friend of mine, Mr. Goud Add-Vice. Smart guy.
1.       Ask for help.  If there is one thing you should do in business, it is to ask for help.  Asking for help is the truest sign of professionalism you can ever demonstrate and it’s probably the best thing you can do for your career.  What follows might also come in handy.

2.      Don’t expect anyone to plan your career.  It just doesn’t happen that way.  There is no grand plan that will carry you.  Decide what you want in a career and go after it.  Set goals and write them down.  You may not know what these are right now and that’s OK.  But do everything you can to try find out.
3.      Keep physically fit.  Your brain will make you money, but your body carries your brain.  The better your physical condition, the greater your capacity for productive, unrelenting work. And being in good condition gives you another edge:  You will be able to start earlier, pause less often, and end your day with a wind sprint.  You will also sleep better.   You will have energy and motivation to – at night and on the weekends – coach soccer, attend theatre, volunteer. 
4.      Do something hard and lonely.  Try to do something Spartan and individualistic.  Do something that you know very few people are willing to do.  It’ll give you a feeling of accomplishment and a certain self-elitism.  It will mentally prepare you for the rigor of life and business.  Read late at night when everyone else is asleep, run long, slow distances early in the morning (and in the winter), work on a 1,000-piece puzzle, write, cultivate a garden, clean the entire house, read Moby Dick, but do it by yourself.  Do something that is solitary.  All great athletes remember the endless hours of seemingly unrewarded toil.  So do corporate Executives.
5.      Never write a nasty email to criticize, belittle, degrade, or hurt a colleague.  Never write a memo that is cynical, condescending, or unkind.  Never, ever send a memo written in anger or frustration.  The world of business is small.  People get promoted, change companies, change jobs, have powerful friends, and they do all of this around the world and throughout your career.  Companies merge, acquire, and get acquired.  That nasty memo could show up anywhere someday and haunt you.
6.      Spend one hour thinking every day.  Plan, dream, scheme, think, calculate.  Review your goals.  Consider options.  Ponder problems.  Write down ideas.  Practice your orals presentation.  Figure out how to get things done.  Do this every day.  Do it at a desk or working table.  Do not do it while driving or jogging or in the shower.  Don’t plan on this kind of thinking at your project; you will be interrupted.
7.      Send handwritten notes.  These days impersonal communication pervades.  There is fax mail, e-mail, junk mail, voice mail, BMM, AIM, WhatsApp, PINs, ATMs, talking cars, digitized wake-up calls.  Handwritten notes stand out.  They are the digitalis for the digital world.  They will differentiate you, mark you as having personal manners and merit.  They are personal, of the gracious past, and never out of style.
8.      Don’t hide an Elephant.  Big problems always surface.  The “hiders” always get burned, regardless of complicity.  The “discoverers” always are safe, regardless of complicity.  When you know there is a problem, and it is important, let people know right away.  Turn the problem into an opportunity to shine.  Define and explain the problem carefully.  Give estimates of potential damage.  Describe possible scenarios.  Suggest options and solutions.  Ask for help.
9.      Always take a vacation.  The people who brag they never take vacations are either fools or poor managers.  You must be able to establish your project, your pyramid or area of responsibility so it can function smoothly without you.  Take the time to relax and always go on vacation.  Recharge, play, laugh, eat, sightsee, sit on the beach or on your deck, read a book, love, enjoy your family, cook for your friends and forget about work. 
10. Make your family your no. 1 client.
11.   Never panic… or lose your temper.  Thomas Jefferson said, “Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain cool and unruffled under all circumstances.”
12.   Push ideas and generate impact, not paper.  Don’t confuse activity for progress.
13.   Be a credit maker, not a credit taker.  Credit takers usually have short shelf-lives.
14.  Don’t be an empire builder.  Empires have a way of crumbling onto their leaders.
15.   Make mistakes.  They are milestones.  They indicate action in new and inexperienced areas.  A mistake is a learning device and you probably will never make it again. Acknowledging mistakes is a sign of security and confidence.  It shows a willingness to try new things and take on uncertain ventures.  Mistakes are the exhaust of active, energetic people.  And the record of mistakes is often the memorabilia of a very successful person.
16.   Live for today, plan for tomorrow and forget yesterday.
17.   Have fun.  Laugh.  Repeat.
18.   A career, like life, is a marathon.  So stop along the way, replenish and don’t forget to ask for help…