Thank you for the opportunity to spend the early hours of Saturday evening with you at the Net Impact event at E.F. Lane’s – I had a great time (well, with the possible exception of the pompous windbag who spoke – who was that guy?!)…
I’ve had a couple of requests to restate the main points I made (and made… and made…) in my remarks, so here goes:
1. “Guiding Precepts” of a career: We all have ’em, whether or not we have yet actually articulated them for ourselves. If you’re wondering if you have done this, dig out your personal mission statement from earlier in your ANE voyage and take a look – chances are, they’re looking back at you in some form or other. These may change continuously for you throughout your career journey or they may be the same for the entire time. I’m still living and working with the ones I set for myself 25+ years ago (with periodic edits to the language used). This may mean I got ’em right for myself at an early stage of things or it may mean I have a alarming lack of imagination, self-honesty, or personal growth. In any case, if you can get clear on what these are for yourself, you will create a really useful career compass that you can pull out and consult whenever you’re trying to figure out what job may be next for you and how the fit may be.
2. Make sense of your personal career story – and then don’t be afraid to tell it (I obviously am not…): One of the best parts about my job is the opportunity to get to know a bit about each of you through your application materials long before we ever meet in person. The stories of your respective careers are absolutely fascinating and the journeys you have taken, regardless of how long you’ve been around to take them, are amazing ones. Resumes and CV’s are the Readers Digest Condensed Books of otherwise great tales – fast, easy reads that are ultimately not particularly satisfying in getting the reader to “the really good parts of the story”. Figure out creative ways to introduce prospective employers to at least some elements of your career story – you owe it to them to at least give them a peek at the “unabridged version” of you.
3. Networking as ends first and means second: I am probably not a particularly effective networker by the standards of the 21st century, as I don’t view the process first, foremost, or fundamentally as the accumulation of shrunken heads on my belt (or links in my LinkedIn account, as the e-case may be). I try to do my best to connect to and relate with people (or not) because I want to connect to and relate with people (or not) and that this remains the primary focus of my “networking” (really looking forward to the ultimate sunset of that word, by the way…). If, as a by-product of those connections and relationships, I can do something for someone I have connected with, or they for me, great. If not, also great – because the whole thing to me should be primarily about interactions and relationships with people as ends in and of themselves – and not primarily as means to other ends. There are plenty of folks who would classify me as a Neanderthal as a result of holding that philosophy – could well be, but I’m good with the cave I’m in and pretty much plan to stay there with the clan I’ve become a part of over the years.
4. A career versus 40+ years of a job (or jobs): One way to think of this (and not necessarily the only or best one by a long shot) is that career will be the ultimate sense you make of all of the jobs you worked for as long as you do so. You can approach this by doing whatever you want for work for as long as you want to do it and then sitting down at the kitchen table with a good pot of coffee when you’re all done with work forever and try to figure out how it all fit. (Note: You may need two pots for this…) Alternately, you can try to figure out what it is you’re trying to accomplish relative to meaning at the outset of work – or at least somewhere along the journey – and try to make whatever you wind up doing for a job or jobs fit that in some way. If living a “meaningful life” through your work (however you define that one for yourself) is important to you, I’d suggest the latter approach and not the former.
Chances are, you already know all of this – and likely a good bit more about it than I do or ever will – in which case John and Sasha would like to chat with you about speaking at an upcoming Net Impact Happy Hour…