“Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.” Isaac Asimov
That’s what I’m doing here today. I’m working on a presentation for late teens – think high school. The general theme is around “Getting ready to work in the business world”. Here are some of my thoughts thus far. Your additions are most appreciated. I’m still in the embryonic stages.
Here’s a first pass top 10:
- Take care of the Basics – got this from my friend KD, a professor at UTSA. She sees young adults get into difficulties everyday, because they don’t take care of the easy Basics, like turn in your papers … on time. Save your difficulties in life for the hard things.
- Work on Your Communication skills – got this from a Fortune 1 senior manager looking back over a 30+ year career. The new hires today are having trouble expressing themselves in business communications – electronic and in person. In the electronic arena make sure they are crisp, complete, leave no room for misinterpretation, avoid assumptions and can be shared without embarrassment. In the person-to-person conversations, make sure to clarify and confirm your understanding, ask questions, use notes if needed, and prepare in advance if needed. In both cases, get feedback and coaching to make progress.
- Look people in the eye when they talk to you – this is a common failing of many younger people. I witnessed it recently at a university orientation. It was painful to watch. I have my theories about why you do this, but the bottom-line is you must stop. It makes you appear lacking in confidence at best and uninterested at worst.
- 1st impressions matter – “substance is more important than form” – “we should never judge a book by it’s cover” – “beauty is only skin deep”. All these things are true, but 1st impressions matter. Your 1st impression may open the next door, or be the ticket to taking the next step. Don’t blow it. Make it your best.
- Carry a pen – always show up ready to write down something on your to-do list, a contact name, a phone number, something you learn. When you show up at a meeting or any other work situation without a pen it’s a sign that, at best you’re disorganized and worst case you’re not planning to do any work.
- Your most important boss in You – manage yourself, as if you are your own boss. Give yourself interesting work. Measure your performance. Stretch yourself with growth opportunities. Give improvement feedback – and a pat on the back. Plan your career and growth strategies.
- Your most important employee is You – don’t let yourself down. Do high quality work. Do timely work. Take initiative. Don’t wait to be told what to do. Always show up and stay engaged – even if you’re not busy.
- Treat all your colleagues as potential futures bosses – that annoying person could one day be promoted over you. Treat everyone with courtesy and respect. Make your interactions professional. That is entirely possible without liking someone. It will pay off.
- Build a Network – Go out of your way to meet co-workers, associates, customers and others in your work environment. Ask questions about what they do, how they fit in to the picture, what they know. Make a note. It will pay off.
- Be a Life Long Learner – when you leave school your learning has only just started. You’ve mastered the 3 Rs, now the real work starts. Your new teacher or coach may be you. Your next homework assignment may come from you. Cultivate an attitude of learning that doesn’t stop til you die. Recruit people for your school of life, who can help you learn and expand your universe.
I actually have a list of about 25 items, but have to narrow this down, so have picked these for the first pass. It would be a privilege to hear from you. Please don’t hesitate to use the Comments below to contribute your thoughts.