Only amateurs go on interviews without first paying a coach
Once upon a time, there was a little mouse who made his way into a classroom and caused a great commotion. The teacher did everything she could to locate the little guy’s hiding place, but she came up empty-handed. Then, to the class’s amazement, she enlisted the help of a little boy named Stevie Morris. All the students were surprised because “Little Stevie” was blind.
Stevie’s teacher appreciated the fact that the shy boy had something no one else in the classroom had — an incredible pair of ears. Sure enough, the teacher’s hunch proved correct. In a matter of seconds, “Little Stevie” identified where the mouse was hiding and instantly became the classroom hero.
While being interviewed decades later, “Little Stevie” said that day marked the first time someone had shown appreciation for what he had — instead of focusing on what he didn’t.
He then went on to credit his teacher for kick-starting his life. From that day forward, “Little Stevie” threw all his energy into developing the gifts he was blessed with rather than spending his days feeling sorry for himself. Years later, this decision would pay off — as “Little Stevie” became one of the most influential musicians ever.
The name Stevie Morris doesn’t ring a bell?
What about his stage name……. Mr. Stevie Wonder?
If I could go back in time and tell my younger self pieces of career wisdom, I would start by sharing the story of “Little Stevie” and the actions of the woman he was fortunate to have as his teacher.
This is because few things create more value for your career than being the type of person who seeks out the good in others — and then takes it one step further by sharing it with the world.
Once I drilled this mandatory point home, I would then advise my younger self to also put the five pieces of advice below into action.
1. Invest in Communication Training
When I graduated from university, I went on a handful of interviews for positions that sounded interesting, but I wasn’t hired for any of them. My recruiter later told me that the organizations liked my profile, but they didn’t like how I handled myself during the interviews.
Looking back, I can’t believe I dropped over 100k on an education only to botch the end-game by not getting my interview skills tight. When it comes to interviews, and life in general, the best communicators win. Few investments provide a higher ROI than shelling out a few bucks for a coach.
However, when it comes to advising my younger self about the importance of developing strong communication skills, I wouldn’t stop with interview training. I would also encourage him to invest in public speaking, negotiation, and effective listening coaching.
The simple reason for this is most people don’t invest in their future. And if you want to make a dent in this world, it pays to not be like most people.
2. Track Your Energy Levels
Getting clear on your “Why” is paramount. So is identifying “What” you have to do to make it a reality. However, don’t underestimate the power of “When” you decide to do things. This is because the sooner you understand how you as an individual best operate, the more productive you can be.
Hands down the easiest way to do this is by tracking your energy levels and then scheduling your day around your “peak” and “dip” working hours. Loads of research has shown the average person has the most energy during the mornings. Then, they begin to drag their feet after lunch before experiencing a spike of energy in the evenings.
Your job is to audit your body to figure out if this also works best for you. Then do whatever it takes to ensure your most important work fits the times when you have the most energy.
So do yourself a favor and get rid of every single social media app on your phone and replace them with energy trackers. You may find by doing so people start tweeting about you — instead of you tweeting about them.
3. Don’t Pack Your Schedule Too Tightly
Dan Sullivan, The Strategic Coach, claims the best way to reach your goals is by limiting your daily to-do list to three actions. As you can imagine, he gets a lot of heat for this, especially from high-performers. But once you hear his logic it not only makes sense for your productivity, but more importantly, for your sanity.
The first reason he recommends doing this is because if you set your to-do list at ten things, the odds are extremely high you’re going to fall short. And instead of going home to celebrate the wins you did get, you’ll spend the rest of the evening stirring over the actions you left unfinished.
This not only damages the relationship with yourself, but also the relationships you have with others. It’s hard to make true connections if you are distracted.
The second reason he recommends doing this is because when you pack your days too tight, you only have time to focus on the work you are doing. You blind yourself from seeing new opportunities.
The biggest benefit of getting older is patterns begin to emerge. One of the most glaring is Dan is right. More times than not, the best things that happen during our careers take place on the other side of the office door. So take Dan up on his advice and make sure you don’t make your life so busy you miss the possibilities life has waiting for you outside.
4. Buddy Up With People Who Are Doing What You Want to Do
Odds are, someone in your life has told you when it comes to achieving success there are no shortcuts. But this is a lie. The world has changed, and with a click of a button and a few carefully chosen words, you can connect with anyone in the world. When it comes to creating your dream career, the best place to start is by reaching out to the people who already have it.
Just do yourself a favor and don’t make the mistake of thinking it has to be someone with a high profile. The beauty of the world we live in is it’s full of extremely talented and kind people who derive great satisfaction from helping others.
So go ahead and soak up the wisdom of people like Gary V and Tim Ferriss. But don’t forget to also pull up a chair to strike up a conversation with the person in your office who month-in and month-out gets their job done.
5. Be the Person Who Always Carries a Book and a Journal
Creating the career of your dreams is all about connecting your dots. The fastest way to speed up this process is by having lots of dots to play with. Few things accomplish this faster than being a voracious reader and notetaker.
Don’t believe me? Open up Mr. Google and type in “famous people who love to read” and “famous people who love to journal.” It’s not a coincidence that most of the people are recognizable by only their last name.
Plus — there has never been a bad conversation that started off with the words, “Whatcha reading?”
Pulling It All Together
If you do a Google search of career advice you’ll be met with hundreds, if not thousands, of recommendations. But if you are just starting out in your career, the five points above, combined with the lesson from “Little Stevie,” is where I’d start if I could do it all over again.
Make a commitment to invest in your communication in order to get it tight.
Take the time to learn how you as an individual best operate. That way, when it comes time to do your most important work, you get it right.
Be the person who prioritizes your free time so you can welcome the gifts life has waiting for you outside with open arms.
Identify the people who are doing the job you want to do and leave each of them better than you found them.
Be the person who makes the decision to feed your curiosity, and be a lifelong learner.
Most importantly, be like Little Stevie’s teacher and be the person who looks for the good in others. Then, takes it one step further by sharing their talents and beauty with the world.
No matter what you want to do with your career — the biggest heart wins.