A Message for New Entrepreneurs – You Won’t Be First…

by JP Moery

I have a few nuggets of advice for entrepreneurs who want to: hang out a shingle, run my own thing, be a CEO, be a President, build something that’s mine, act on my great ideas no one else wanted to do, and, of course, BE THE BOSS!

If that is your motivation – stop and re-think it before you move forward.

The reality is you are “last” and will be for a very long time.  Here’s what comes before you:

Your employees – because you damn sure can’t do it all.  Their success is more important than your abilities.

Your customers – because they decide if you get paid or not.

Your family – because they still need you, and you need them.

Your banker, accountant, and lawyer – because you likely don’t know that stuff.

Your prospects – because they want a proposal.

Many of us launch a business with an abundance of personal goals and ambitions.  However, it is essential to let go of your ego.  Ego is never satisfied and will keep you from focusing on those who really matter for a successful business.

If this content is meaningful to you, check out Hit the Reset Button or Life Hacks for Success in Business. Follow JP Moery on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.

Has Complacency Become a Leadership Hurdle for You?

JP Moery

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As a leader, have you found yourself content with the status quo? Unwilling to make a growth change in your organization? Yes, you’ve had success in business – but hey, ask yourself, “What have you done lately?” When was the last time you ventured outside the comfort zone, took a risk? My guess, if this is the case it’s gnawing at you a bit. Time and again, I’ve seen complacency in leadership, which reverberates down to those you lead – and, this can be the decline of your association. If the people you lead aren’t pushing the envelope, how in the heck can your membership be fired up about what you’re doing?

Complacency stunts innovative energy, organizational growth, and can have a negative impact on your image as a leader – from your staff to your board – believe me, they’ve noticed. I’ve seen some very good executives out there that have an image or aura that they have played the last great game. It all comes down to you and your next move. The good news is, leadership stagnation can be overcome with some simple steps and a bit of initiative. Some things to consider to get a jump start:

Assess Your Leadership Muscle

Trace your career path – recognize the drivers that took you to the top in the first place. My guess is you took a risk, swam upstream or launched a breakout service. An honest self-assessment can quickly get you back on track. Replicate the characteristics needed during your most effective times.

Reconnect with Your Staff

This step is critical as staff will lose respect if your leadership muscles are in atrophy. One of the most powerful leadership tools can be weekly one-on-one meetings with your direct reports. These meetings should not be “weather reports” but equal parts of what the staff member’s needs are and your key performance areas for them. Listen. Hold yourself accountable and bring energy and passion to these conversations. When challenges are shared by staff, empathize and assure them you are in this together and charging ahead. By the way, ask your employees what they need from you as a leader. Again, weekly repetition is needed for optimum effectiveness.

Communicate over and over again

Be vulnerable and authentic that you want to revitalize leadership qualities. Be transparent about your efforts as this will rally the troops. Ask them to challenge you to address the best opportunities and the biggest challenges which must be solved. Update your staff on the progress made, and promise them your very best effort. These successes fuel your momentum and reinvigorate your staff.

The key is to consistently seek out the new challenge and forge ahead with a trusted team. Long-term success as a leader can be yours. Get moving.

If this content was meaningful to you, check out Hit the Reset Button or Life Hacks for Success in Business.

Keep Your Foot on the Gas

by JP Moery

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First quarter is about over. You’re into a business rhythm. You can see a nice upturn. But, don’t get complacent … Challenge your organization to be disruptive. Resurrect your creative appetite for new programs, intensive development and improvement.

This is the time of the year where the cadence of business becomes a bit repetitive and ordinary. I’m not really interested in that for your organization.

Here are three things to drive you through the next quarter. And, remember what racing legend Mario Andretti said, “If you feel in control, you’re not driving fast enough.”

1. Find the project where there was not enough bandwidth, budget or market research to launch a year ago … and, Go!

2. Look at your long-term goals and execute the efforts tomorrow.

3. Double your revenue goals on a particular initiative (conference registration, membership recruitment, etc.) and adjust your budget accordingly. Rally your team to go to a previously unmet, and perhaps unthinkable goal. Just think what will happen if you only get halfway to the objective – that’s 25% more than you may have ever anticipated.

Start today, not tomorrow.  As the old adage says, “Tomorrow is the Devil’s favorite word.”

What’s Kept Me From Being Successful

JP Moery

Istock/Credit:Thomas-Soellner

I’m 30,000 feet in the air on my birthday – it’s my second flight. Instead of whining about not being with my family, I reflected on the things that have kept me from success. These are items I work on every day, and am hopefully making progress on them.

Didn’t tell the truth. I come up short not telling people what I really think. “That’s not really good work.” “Your team is not working with us in full collaboration.” “We stunk up that project. It’s not okay” Do more people like me because I have sugar coated things? Maybe. But there is a lot of pain, anxiety and losses because of not being brutally honest. Leaders are really coaching people up. And, the best coaches call it the way it is, articulate the situation clearly and make sure things get fixed. Now. Business leaders, like me, should do the same. This takes constant attention and practice.

Didn’t ask the best questions, because I was afraid what someone might say. I have come up short so many times because there was a fear to ask the questions I knew had to be asked. “Is there someone else you’re speaking with on this deal?” “Why did we lose this deal so I can learn from it?” or this magical query, “Based on what you learned about our company, is there someone you know we could help?” The quality of questions you ask will determine your fate – someone already said that and I agree.

Didn’t learn to sell soon enough. Many of the most admired business people in the world can sell, or started in sales. I firmly believe if you can sell and are willing to do it, starving will never be a problem. Increasingly, I have also learned that selling is all about giving and delivering value and information. Unfortunately, for me I grasped this much too late in my life or appreciate the value of developing a skill many people aren’t willing to hone.

There are million more reasons I’ve not met my potential. But, thank goodness, I’m about to land.

Game Changer – Implementing the Power of Five

by JP Moery

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Early this year I was “firing up” about the prospects of 2018 – and, scouring my resources to find a new tactic which might add a gear to my productivity. Fortunately, I connected with @andyfrisella and his MFCEOProject – a series of advice podcasts and postings. Warning: Very explicit.

What resonated so much was his Power of Five concept. I’ll tell you about the impact, but to learn the details you might connect with his content. It happened for me this way.

  • List 5 actions to take every day. The same, non-negotiable actions – some personal, business, spiritual, etc. Write them down every single day.
  • Determine a Win or Loss every day based on completion of the 5 tasks daily. Write W or L on your action sheet.
  • After 21 days of consecutive completing a task it comes off the list. This action is now likely a habit.
  • Then, add a new task to the Power 5

Here are the results of this simple system in 16 days. 600% increase in my sales activity (and folks, trust me, I wasn’t sitting on my ass before) and a massive pipeline. Spiritual connection almost every day thru prayer and Scripture. Thought leadership posting up 500%. Increased workouts/physical activity.

And, this is with a “won/loss” record of 12-4.

An incredibly simple and powerful system. I hope you think about a similar launch program in your life, today!

Do You Really Want It?

JP Moery

IStock/Credit:kieferpix

I’m so encouraged by people who show desire and enthusiasm for success.  Images of material wealth are all around us, seemingly accessible (especially in the Washington, DC area) and almost easy to obtain.  Beautiful homes, fast cars, lots of nice gear.  These images are a mirage for many.

Those who seek these proxies of material wealth and success may have the perception that because they can see it….it must be easy or certainly obtainable due to proximity.  That’s BS.  Let’s be honest, do you really want it?   Are you willing to work or sacrifice enough to be in the top 5% of your field?  For most, it’s an emphatic “no.”

People like Mark Cuban, Gary Vaynerchuk, Tony Robbins and others, work so hard and put in so much effort – you’d feel like a car hit you if you spent a day in their shoes.  In some cases, they may be more talented.  But quite possibly their success skills were developed in the mid-morning hours while you were reading The Washington Post or sitting on the couch binge watching Netflix.   While you were doing that, the top 5% just finalized a new deal or moved it forward.

When The Moery Company launched pre-2010, I was consulting and working after hours.  It was difficult, I was tired and it frankly affected the quality of my work.  However, this effort began to test my thesis and challenge myself for the right stuff.  Sometimes, I question whether that kind of edge might be gone.  Maybe I’m not willing to give everything necessary to build the greatest association consulting firm in the world.

So I want you to be absolutely true to yourself today.  What do I want to be – the greatest salesperson in the world, my country, my town, my block, my company or my house?  Reflect on whether you want to be the best in your company, but giving the effort to be the best in your own home – of two.

You’re not fooling people when you say – you want to be the best association executive in the world, but are unwilling to make the sacrifices needed to achieve that.  It just doesn’t work that way.

If you want to be among the top 5%, then you must outhustle, outthink and outwork 95% of everyone else.  Or, you can just get lucky.

PS – And, it’s absolutely OK if you don’t want to be in the “Top 5.”  Just don’t claim to be disaffected, a member of the shrinking middle class or whatever excuse that’s out there.  Because most often we know where the buck stops. The image is in the mirror.

Creating a Real Win-Win: Opportunities for Associations to Help Sponsors Become Thought Leaders

by JP Moery and Bob Buday

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Every association CEO’s No. 1 job is helping members be successful, whether they are companies banding together in a trade group or individuals convening in a professional society. As such, many association leaders are often asked to guard the sanctity of their members against heavy-handed sales tactics of vendors and sponsors. They keep sponsors on the sidelines at their conferences, relegate them to the advertising (not the editorial) pages of their publications, and block them out of planning those and other key association programs.

That’s understandable, and laudable when sponsor demands threaten an association’s integrity. But it’s also increasingly shortsighted and fundamentally misses a tremendous opportunity. Keeping vendor members on the sidelines is a black-and-white stance that precludes associations from fully tapping the expertise of sponsors and vendor members. If your vendors’ expertise is developed, packaged and presented in educational (not blatantly self-promotional) ways, it can be extremely helpful to your mainstream association members.

Doing that means helping association sponsors and vendors to be viewed as thought leaders –i.e., as experts in their domains who can help members solve pressing business problems.

While such expertise can be valuable to many association members, it can also provide associations with a new revenue opportunity that most haven’t tapped: providing services that turn vendors into thought leaders. Becoming a popular thought leader (as Bob’s company has found with professional services industry clients) doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t occur by simply telling people to write articles, speeches, books, and blog posts.

People and firms with knowledge become recognized thought leaders only after extensive efforts to codify, package and display their expertise. It happens only after they capture the impact of their expertise on customers (to prove its value), when they can explain their expertise in language the target audience can understand, and when they take it to market through speaking presentations, white papers, blog posts, research reports, books and other educational formats that don’t appear at all to be marketing.

We believe that turning vendors into thought leaders is a major opportunity for associations. Because they historically have played a crucial middleman between members and sponsors, associations have a unique chance to turn their sponsors into thought leaders. That, in and of itself, could be a sizable revenue opportunity for associations because they are well-positioned to offer such services to sponsors, for three reasons:

  1. Associations are highly trusted by their members. They act in their members’ best interests and advocate for them. Thus, when associations open their channels to sponsors that the associations have helped turn into thought leaders, those sponsors become strongly connected to associations and to their member constituencies.
  2. Associations provide the means for effective research focus groups: Sponsors can get quick feedback on their messages from a select group of association members, which allows those sponsors to make rapid and necessary refinements before going mainstream with those messages.
  3. Associations enable sponsors to present their expertise in the most effective channels for thought leadership marketing: conference and seminar presentations. Bloom Group’s 10 years of research on the effectiveness of thought leadership marketing channels consistently shows that conference presentations are the best way to generate leads and market awareness for a firm’s expertise. Close behind are editorial publications, which many associations also issue to members. What’s more, the development of live streaming and broadcast presentations provide even more channels to deliver vendor thought leadership content to members who can’t attend an association event.

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Associations that turn their sponsors into thought leaders generate value for both members and sponsors. They give sponsors speaking slots of conferences because they know their insightful speeches will go over well. They give vendors editorial opportunities in their publications because their articles provide big insights and useful case studies.  And they permit vendors to show off their expertise in other association programs because they know members will welcome it.

However, the assistance an association provides to vendors to become thought leaders must be the starting point. Associations with programs to do this can transform sponsors’ sales pitches into valuable educational advice for association members on how to solve their business problems. Vendor conference presentations, briefings, articles and sales meetings shift from blatant sales pitches that turn off members into educational content that appeals to members who are hungry to learn from their peers.

Associations that don’t do this are leaving big money on the table: preventing sponsors from becoming thought leaders to their members. We fully understand the reluctance of association CEOs and their teams. But we also believe that there are effective ways to satisfy both side’s goals – your members’ interests in learning, not being pitched, and your sponsors’ need to communicate their value to your members. One goal doesn’t necessarily have to be in opposition to the other.

Let’s examine the opportunities for associations that can turn sponsors into thought leaders – opportunities for your members, your sponsors, and your association.

The Historical Member-Sponsor Divide

The best member-driven associations have historically resisted pressures from companies that sell products and services to their members even if those companies are paying big fees as vendor sponsors. JP knows from his experience in leadership positions at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Trucking Associations, and from his work at The Moery Company. Perhaps afraid of appearing weak, many association leaders have created hard-and-fast rules about how vendor members can play:

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  • Confining them to the exhibit hall booths
  • Barring them from serving on the conference committee
  • Preventing them from taking key speaking roles at high-profile, and even very targeted, conferences
  • Keeping them out of association publications other than to advertise
  • Or even worse, limiting their participation as a member altogether

The most frequent request by vendors of association leaders is getting speaking roles at conferences. This is frequently rejected by associations, which seem shackled by their perception of vendor presentations as pure sales pitches. Indeed, association leaders who cave into such demands can begin a slippery downward slope with vendor members calling the shots and dictating an association’s programming. If you don’t help vendors turn their pitches into thoughtful content, you will become the forum everyone wants to avoid. Sponsors will come to the podium and make presentations that are totally tone deaf to the objectives and cues of the meeting.  JP has seen them … hell, he’s been forced to put them on the agenda!

But it doesn’t have to be this way. You shouldn’t allow vendors to pitch their offerings in conference presentations. That reflects poor event planning. However, if an association can work with vendors on their presentations and make them highly educational about some problem of members and a better way to solve it, those presentations are likely to be met favorably by members.

Think of it another way: Associations are willing to pay premiums – tens of thousands of dollars – to name-brand speakers who don’t have a clue about an association’s industry and the way it works – just to avoid having the companies that are closest to them (which include vendors) participate. That doesn’t make sense.

Why Vendor Pressures are Unlikely to Recede

If you believe that globalization, Internet competitors, and institutional investor pressures will only increase in the years ahead, then you should also assume that vendor sponsors will place increasing demands on associations to get in front of their members.

That only makes sense. Sponsors recognize the importance of associations, especially in B2B sectors, as a key channel to sell their products and services.

Many B2B companies – both product and service firms – recognize the need to sell not only their offerings but also to communicate the expertise they’ve collected about their offerings: i.e., the customer problems their offerings address. There’s no better evidence of this trend than how B2B companies have embraced of “The Challenger Sale” concept. The concept came out of research from the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), now part of research powerhouse Gartner. The first book in their series was a bestseller. CEB studied hundreds of B2B salespeople through the eyes of their sales managers and compared the most effective salespeople to the average performers. The key trait of the best salespeople was their ability to challenge the customer’s view of his problem – to redefine the problem, and then offer their firm’s unique solution to it.

The Challenger Sale concept calls for B2B salespeople to be considered industry thought leaders by customers, not as salespeople who focus on product features and benefits. In this light, it’s no surprise that many association sponsors want to be viewed by members as thought leaders at association events and in association publications. We believe this helps explain why so many association leaders are getting pressured by sponsors to play bigger roles in their programs.

But we also believe the best way for association leaders to deal with it is not to oppose it, but to actually welcome it – they can create a win-win-win for their members, the sponsors, and the association.

JP once spoke with one of the world’s largest and best-known companies. The only association programs this company supports are those in which its people are permitted to deliver thought leadership content to high-ranking executives. That is their only game. If associations don’t grasp that idea, the potential sponsorship revenue will walk.

The result of placing such restrictions on vendors? They will run their own meetings or events in your venue, gathering and hosting at the hotel bar. Don’t be mistaken: They will fill the void you are creating by not providing a solution to their business objectives. Far better to help vendors become thought leaders through your help and your programs.

The question more and more for association leaders is not whether they can help sponsors turn into thought leaders, but how – and how to profit from it. In the following section, we’ll discuss how to do so.

Turning Vendors into Thought Leaders

From Bloom Group’s work over the last 20 years in turning B2B companies into recognized thought leaders (especially professional services firms such as consultancies, IT services, accounting, architecture and law firms), we see five foundational elements for associations that want to do the same for their vendor members.

  1. Help vendors create a thought leadership strategy to determine where to focus content development and marketing resources. Such a strategy will identify which problems of association members a vendor wants its thought leadership marketing campaigns to focus on over the next 12 to 18 months – i.e., which topics (which are big problems of association members) it wants to “own” and shed light on. For example, a manufacturer of construction equipment and an association of construction equipment users might decide there are two topics for that manufacturer to cover in its thought leadership campaigns: construction site safety and theft. Thought leadership campaigns are far more effective when they drill deep on an issue and shed new light on it, and when the presentations, articles, blog posts, research reports and other content formats all focus on the same issue(s). That helps association members gain deeper knowledge from the vendor than if that vendor covered 12 topics superficially in a year.
  1. Set quality standards so that vendor presentations, articles, research studies, blog posts and other content are useful and insightful for members. Bloom Group’s research has found that the most successful practitioners of thought leadership create content that excels at eight criteria: novelty, relevance, depth, evidence, coherence, practicality, rigor and clarity. The exceptional insights their content offers (articles, research studies, conference presentations, books and other thought leadership formats) are a big reason why they generate leads and revenue from thought leadership that far exceeds the investment in content and marketing.
  1. Help vendors codify, develop and capture their thought leadership content in speeches, articles and other writings and presentations through a structured process. Bloom Group has found that the core skills to do this – idea development and writing – don’t exist at the quality levels that they need to be in most B2B companies outside of the largest consulting firms (e.g., McKinsey, Bain, and Boston Consulting Group). (And even those firms tap outsiders for those skills). Exceptional thought leadership content development skills are rare today. Associations that want to play in the game of turning sponsors into thought leaders must tap into those with the skills (or hire them outright). Additionally, since association members love hearing about best practices from their peers, vendors need to help their best customers capture their best practices in using their products. The most believable conference presentations are best-practice case studies by a vendor’s happiest customers.
  1. Determine the optimal marketing mix of thought leadership content for the vendor to use in the association’s programs (and outside of the association’s programs if a vendor asks for that advice) – and, then help execute it. For example, thought leaders are better off publishing articles, blog posts and using other “one-directional” communications before they do public presentations on that content. The reason is that audiences prefer to read new ideas for the first time, rather than hear or see them “on stage.” Articles that resonate can then generate more conference attendees who want to hear and see the authors do presentations. All to say, a thought leadership campaign must be carefully orchestrated, with certain activities (e.g., blog posts, self-published articles, articles published in leading publications, social media) happening first, second and third — long before the audience hears the conference presentation versions of them. Associations that can help their vendors execute these campaigns (i.e., ghostwrite their blog posts, articles and conference presentations, design and execute research studies with members, etc.) will provide additional high value to the vendors that can’t manage these activities with excellence.
  1. Require vendors who ask to be turned into thought leaders to become association members, not just advertisers. Helping a sponsor turn its people into thought leaders is a major effort. It requires a close partnership between an association and its vendor members, and a major investment by the vendor in the association that offers to work with it in this manner. It’s a long-term play for vendors – and, for association leaders – who want a win-win-win for all three parties. That’s membership value at its core, and a benefit many vendors have never been offered. In this increasingly competitive market, we believe it’s a tremendous advantage to offer.

These five elements are the underpinnings of highly effective thought leadership programs run by associations. There are other services that associations could offer if they want to play an even bigger role in the success of vendors’ thought leadership programs. For example, one of them is helping get a vendor’s salespeople well-versed in the thought leadership content of their company’s authors and presenters and trained on how to engage association members with that content.

Associations that can regularly and reliably turn sponsors into thought leaders will not only generate substantial value for their members (vendors that become more effective at solving their problems), but for their sponsors as well (being seen by members as leading experts in their domains).

These associations will generate new income from making this happen. What’s more, they’ll create a competitive advantage for themselves over other associations – one that will grow especially important during economic times in which members and sponsors are focusing their investments on fewer associations.

JP Moery is Founder and President of The Moery Company, a consulting firm focused on helping associations grow membership, sponsorship and other revenue resources. The firm is headquartered in Alexandria, Va.

 

 

Bob Buday is a Founder and Partner of Bloom Group LLC, a Boston-based thought leadership marketing consultancy.

 

 

 

 

 

What Does It Take? Brains or Behavior?

by JP Moery

IStock/Credit: ismagilov

To be the best, you need to hire the smartest people or those with the best attitude and self awareness?

Recently I thought about my most fantastic colleagues and what made them so. Upon reflection I realized many of these special individuals weren’t the “smartest in the room,” or maybe they were. In this knowledge economy, with information so readily available, I rarely see a situation where the team or the company is not smart or informed enough to succeed.  But the team that behaves best, collaborates well or buys into the values and mission are the long term winners.

The individual superstars may not have looked best on paper. But, they did get great results through behavioral qualities:

They showed up and posted a quality effort every day. Hall of fame baseball players get an extra hit each week more than the run of the mill journeyman. That is what it takes – an extra hit each week. The key is to engage every day – be solid.

Without exception, they possess a “let’s light this candle” attitude. It’s really simple. Do you generate energy or suck it out of your organization? Organizations have very little time for the excuse, the maintenance or the drama. Those types of individuals eventually just play themselves out of the game, largely because there is just too much time on the negative. The very best just keep grinding away with a “can do” approach.

They are passionate solution providers. I’m convinced most companies, associations and people are a little (or a lot) screwed up. However, great talent is willing to do something about it. The person griping about the problem can hit the door, and the person willing to fix it (or keep improving) gets the promotion.

Behavior over brains has been my experience.  What’s yours?

Overcoming Decision-Making Paralysis

by JP Moery

IStock/Credit: francescoch

I’m concerned. Associations are taking too long to make decisions.  The problem you face isn’t going away, getting better or resolving itself.

The decision to start a project, hire some help, or shutter a program – are the decisions business leaders in the for-profit world are making on a daily basis.  However, my experience is associations choose to not respond as quickly.  And, the result is a less nimble, relevant organization.  The “waiting is the hardest part” as Tom Petty opines.
If leaders think about the long-term impact, use of resources, or the opportunities ahead of the decision – making the call could be a bit easier, and faster.

Consider this:

  • Looking ahead 5 years from now, is this really a big deal?  From this perspective, the decision could get easier to make.
  • If we move forward, could there be significant long-term benefits to my organization?  Then, what’s taking so long to pull the trigger?
  • Will making the call now, with the information I have at hand – help address a situation, which has long been problematic and caused tension within the organization?

As a leader, think about making a decision every day with an eye to the future.  Work that decision-making muscle, the exercise will enable you to be proactive, feel empowered and demonstrate your ability to move ahead.

Bad Advice & Mistakes Made

by JP Moery

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Having recently blogged on the best pieces of advice I ever received, my thoughts have naturally drifted to the bad advice that came my way as well. I should give my thoughts some context. I’m a little more reflective these days (on the good and the bad) having recently given high school commencement comments at my alma mater, and the fact that my oldest daughter, Grace will graduate next week.

So, yes. I’ve been thinking about high school, college, and even my professional life in which I listened to some bad advice and made a few mistakes.

Don’t go into debt: when I graduated from college I bought a car. That was stupid. I didn’t have money for a car, but I felt like – I’m a college graduate and now tired of driving this piece of crap. Let me tell you, don’t do things if you don’t have the cash.

That simple mistake right out of college, set me back for a very long time because it limited my freedom to move, make changes and saddled me with financial obligations I wasn’t ready for.

So, the bottom line is – don’t buy a car unless you have the means to do so.

So many opportunities to lead, and I sat on my ass: I didn’t really leverage leadership and volunteer opportunities in high school, college, and for a long time in my professional career.  Maybe, it just wasn’t “cool enough.” But now I’ve learned the network built, opportunities provided, and just awesome experiences are for those who raise your hand – “I’ll do that.”

Yeah, well no one’s laughing now at the leadership dorks, because the skills you learn in leadership as a young person  propel you forever.  And, what do organizations need more today than ever before? Better leadership.

So, the bottom line is – step up and lead.  Companies pay a premium for those qualities.

Don’t wait for the perfect job: “Make sure to wait for the great job to come around. You have time.”  There is no perfect job, and their are things you learn in the least glamorous positions.  I remember when I came out of the University of Oklahoma, I received two job offers. Interestingly enough, these were in sales – pharmaceutical sales and food and beverage sales. I turned them down, because I damn sure didn’t go to school to be in sales.

Fast forward 30 years: I am in sales and wonder how accelerated my career path may have been if I would have learned from those experiences. Waiting for the perfect job delayed my professional growth for some time. I treated my life like filling little buckets of experiences instead of climbing a ladder, with each position presenting an step-by-step building experience.

So, the bottom line is – treat your job experiences like ascending a ladder, learning as you go. Sometimes you need to go down a rung or two, but it’s part of the process.

Learn from my life mistakes: don’t buy stuff you can’t afford, don’t blow the opportunity to take on a leadership position, and don’t wait around for the perfect job.

And finally, don’t forget where you came from.

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