November 29, 2012

98 Career Tips

Tip #1 = Create your own methodology, a system entirely unique to you, and make your company money by using it.  Better to have your own system than to compete with others.

Tip #2 = Don't mock your Executive team if you want to eventually become an Executive.

Tip #3 = Understand that Executives get fired, regardless of performance.  This will happen to you, too, if you become an Executive.

Tip #4 = Executives earn bonuses for sales increases and profit increases.  Focus analytics on sales and profit, not engagement.

Tip #5 = If you want people to adopt your ideas, ask questions that require the person across the table from you to say "yes".

Tip #6 = Take a class that teaches you how to sell.  Directors and Vice Presidents spend most of the day selling ideas or strategies.

Tip #7 = Listen to people.

Tip #8 = Understand that the worst job in the Analyst / Manager / Director / Vice President ladder is "Director". If you can survive that, being a Vice President is easy.

Tip #9 = Have three goals for your team for the year.  Make sure two of the goals are tied to profit and customer file development.

Tip #10 = Those who can predict what is likely to happen next year tend to be listened to.

Tip #11 = Those who are listened to tend to be promoted.

Tip #12 = Do what your boss asks you to do.

Tip #13 = In your spare time, do research that proves you should do the exact opposite of what your boss asks you to do.

Tip #14 = Get enough sleep.

Tip #15 = Don't fall asleep in meetings.

Tip #16 = Start all of your meetings on time, regardless who is not yet in the room.

Tip #17 = End all of your meetings five minutes early.

Tip #18 = Team chemistry is possibly the most important component of getting things done.  Foster team chemistry.  Hint - there are no best practices for doing this.

Tip #19 = Those who do not buy into your plan are a cancer.  Get them on your side, or get them out of the company, or you will be fired.

Tip #20 = Assess whether somebody who is not meeting objectives is not meeting them because of a skills deficiency.  If so, give the person the benefit of the doubt.

Tip #21 = Find a mentor outside of your company, and bounce ideas off of this person.

Tip #22 = Learn to say "NO" to most of what comes across your desk, once you become a Manager, Director, or Vice President.

Tip #23 = Say "YES" with a smile if you are an Analyst ... it's a fast path to becoming a Manager.

Tip #23 = Do not let small distractions divert attention from achieving long-term goals.  Long-term goals yield business success that advances your career.

Tip #24 = Being Respected > Being Large and Intimidating.

Tip #25 = Cause co-workers to laugh.

Tip #26 = Feed people.  Many employees are pleasantly surprised when you bring cupcakes to work.  Some employees are truly hungry, too.

Tip #27 = Most people are really, really good people who sometimes act badly.  Separate a bad action from the overall essence of the person.

Tip #28 = Not everybody thinks the way you think.  In fact, almost nobody thinks the way you think.  This will make it hard for you to implement your ideas.

Tip #29 = Set goals and objectives for next year in November.  Share your goals and objectives. You'll find that you will shape other people's goals/objectives by doing this.

Tip #30 = Set up a grease board in your office.  Tally sales and profit, on an annual basis, generated by you and your team.  Point to the board when people are in your office.

Tip #31 = Understand that if customers don't like your merchandise, nothing else matters. Make sure your efforts are aligned with merchandising excellence.

Tip #32 = Sparingly yell and scream.

Tip #33 = If you are an Analyst / Manager, understand that your co-workers hate being measured by your metrics. Find other ways to convince these folks to change.

Tip #34 = You're more likely to get partnership from co-workers by doing something for them instead of telling them what to do.

Tip #35 = If you are a Director or Vice President, be present. It's tempting to "hang out" with Executives. It's important to "hang out" with your Analysts / Managers.

Tip #36 = Do not tolerate errors that can be avoided by simple audits of information.

Tip #37 = If your company won't do what you want your company to do, either double down on your efforts, or find a company that will do exactly what you want to do.

Tip #38 = Know when to roll over, to stop fighting over a topic you're not making progress on.

Tip #39 = Realize that a third of your employees won't be on your side when you become a Manager, Director, or Vice President.  Neutralize their negative energy, immediately.

Tip #40 = Avoid projects that involve inventing "the next big thing". By the time you invent it, the rest of the world is on to "the next big thing". You can't win this battle.

Tip #41 = Set deadlines.  Not much gets done without deadlines.

Tip #42 = If you are an Analyst, complete work prior to assigned deadlines.  If you are a Manager / Director / Vice President, demand project completion prior to a deadline.

Tip #43 = Create incentive structures that don't require money.

Tip #44 = Send employees home early in the afternoon of a day prior to a major Holiday.

Tip #45 = Resist the temptation to have favorite employees.

Tip #46 = Realize that everybody else has a favorite employee, causing considerable tension between employees.

Tip #47 = Send employees to conferences.

Tip #48 = Require employees who go to conferences to perform a thirty-minute presentation on what the employee learned at the conference.

Tip #49 = If you are an Analyst or Manager, demand the opportunity to present your work in department meetings.

Tip #50 = Practice. In sports, people practice more than they play. In business, practice is not part of the culture.  Practice new skills, even if you have to do it on your own time.

Tip #51 = Become good at speaking in public.

Tip #52 = Take your findings "on the road". Create a 30 minute presentation about customer behavior that you can share with other departments.

Tip #53 = Get to know your Chief Financial Officer.

Tip #54 = Learn how to calculate profit.

Tip #55 = Promote ideas that increase company profitability. Most Executives have bonus structures that, in part, pay out $$ when company profitability increases significantly.

Tip #56 = Fight for bonus structures for all employees.  A 10% cash bonus payout on December 23 feels very different than a 10% salary increase.

Tip #57 = Fight for a compensation structure that rewards non-management employees for technical excellence, as long as technical excellence increases company profit.

Tip #58 = Realize that new customer acquisition is much more important to long-term company health than anything other than having great merchandise.

Tip #59 = Realize that nearly all employees and outsiders have been trained to believe that customer retention is the most important component of long-term company health.

Tip #60 = Set goals that allow employees to achieve success while you secretly fuel the health of the business via low-cost customer acquisition programs.

Tip #61 = Instead of constantly battling a co-worker who disagrees with you, learn to work around that person.

Tip #62 = Always have facts about the way your customers behave. Keep the argument on actual customer behavior.  Avoid theories, hypotheses, and buzzwords.

Tip #63 = Executives are not HiPPOs (highest paid person's opinion). Too often, Execs are avoiding your strategy for a very good reason that they cannot tell you about.

Tip #64 = All magic comes with a price.

Tip #65 = Make your employees do the work of hourly wage earners at least one day a year.

Tip #66 = Most employees would rather do something familiar and comfortable instead of something new and challenging. Make a bridge to connect the two concepts.

Tip #67 = Point out the future before anybody sees it.  If you have analytical skills, you should be able to project what things will look like 1 year from now.  Do it.

Tip #68 = Forecast.  Those who forecast sales have the ear of the Executive team.

Tip #69 = Appreciate art.  Too many of us (hint - me) are too scientific, requiring proof for everything.  Art and merchandise fuel customer demand.  Science simply measures art.

Tip #70 = Foster structure.  You can allow for great amounts of creativity while having a solid weekly structure that employees know and trust.

Tip #71 = Prevent having more than 5 hours of meetings a day.  Start declining meetings if your calendar fills up.

Tip #72 = Friday Afternoon Freedom.  Clearly communicate that you and your staff will only work on personal projects on Friday afternoon. Work longer hours if necessary.

Tip #73 = Document.  When you have problems with employees, document the problems, so you have a solid argument when it comes time to make decisions about employees.

Tip #74 = Equipment. Make sure your employees have great equipment and good software, and they will produce better work, which makes you look better.

Tip #75 = Give Credit.  When you are a Manager / Director / Vice President, evangelize the work of your employees. Other Executives will notice your selflessness.

Tip #76 = Let Others Take Credit.  When an Executive takes credit for your work, let 'em! At least your work is being utilized, and that's better than having folks ignore your work.

Tip #77 = Be Public.  Have a Twitter or LinkedIn presence, where you grow your professional brand without giving away company secrets.

Tip #78 = Don't Lie.  When you aren't truthful, co-workers will lose trust, quickly.

Tip #79 = Don't Gossip.  When you talk about other employees (outside of factual work-related situations), word gets around, and co-workers lose trust, quickly.

Tip #80 = Have Compassion.  Your co-workers go through crap in their professional and personal life.  

Tip #81 = Have a 3 Year Plan.  Each year, publish a three year plan for where you want to take your department in the future.  Measure performance, and adjust the plan each year.

Tip #82 = Know When To Leave.  Most of us reach a point where we've taken a company as far as we can take it.  Leave before you get to that point.

Tip #83 = Capitalize on Strengths.  You can't make an employee do what s/he isn't good at doing.  Put the employee in spots where s/he will succeed, de-emphasize weaknesses.

Tip #84 = Set up New Employees. Assign a project where the new employee is guaranteed to have success, it gets everybody off to a good start.

Tip #85 = Create a Hiring Quiz.  Make all who interview for a job complete a quiz, and allow the answers to the quiz to be open-ended and essay-based.  It's quite revealing!

Tip #86 = Be Probabalistically Accurate.  You're always going to be wrong ... but be wrong on the high end 50% of the time, and be wrong on the low end 50% of the time.

Tip #87 = Don't Beat a Dead Horse.  Even if your idea is right, your company will probably move in a different direction.  Let your idea go.

Tip #88 = Create Teams.  Five people on a team generate more value than five individuals working alone.  But be smart about who you put on the team.

Tip #89 = Deal With Success Publicly, Deal With Problems Privately.

Tip #90 = What works for other companies may not be what works for your company.  Listen to those on the outside, execute based on internal customer knowledge.

Tip #91 = Communicate to your boss what you want your next job to look like.  It can be very revealing to hear how your boss responds.

Tip #92 = When taking over a new department, immediately find people you believe you can trust, or hire folks you can trust.

Tip #93 = Pay attention, and read the tea leaves.  Listen for the hidden words and for words not said by Executives.

Tip #94 = If your company is publicly traded, read every press release, 10-K, and 10-Q statement issued by your company.  Prepare to be surprised.

Tip #95 = Know monthly sales performance vs. plan and vs. last year, regardless of job title.

Tip #96 = Know your top ten best selling items, regardless of job title.

Tip #97 = Know how many customers purchased in the past year, and know how many new customers purchased last year, regardless of job title.

Tip #98 = Do not overwork or burn out your team.

Bonus Tip #99 = Do not be too far out in front of the curve.  It may not good to advocate for a new channel before you know where the trends are headed.

Use the comments section to add your tips!

1 comment:

  1. Bookmarked, printed, and is now a permanent reference for me. Thank you for this great list, Kevin.


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