Category Archives: career

Building a Rock Solid Career Reputation

I’m currently working my way through The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. The book is fascinating as it draws on dozens of historical examples to pull out key takeaways and suggestions for building power and influence. Each chapter is dedicated to a particular lesson or takeaway and how you can apply it to your own life. A few chapters in particular have stood out to me, but one in particular (Law 5 – “So Much Depends on Your Reputation—Guard It With Your Life”) is applicable to some of the topics I’ve been writing about recently.
In the beginning, you must work to establish a reputation for one outstanding quality, whether generosity or honesty or cunning. This quality sets you apart and gets other people to talk about you. You then make your reputation known to as many people as possible (subtly, though; take care to build slowly, and with a firm foundation), and watch as it spreads like wildfire.

The two parts are then:
  1. Building a reputation.
  2. Spreading your reputation.
The trick is always “How?”. How exactly do you build a reputation? Perhaps more importantly, once you have that reputation, how do you spread that reputation without feeling like a selfish jerk? This post will touch on the first piece – building the reputation. I recently wrote a piece on The Muse all about soft skills that will help you excel in your career. I have another one coming up on Todoist about demonstrating your value within an organization. I wanted to pull together some common threads from the research I did for both that apply to building a reputation and some distinct points in the process that I’ve found helpful. In a follow-up post, I’ll discuss some thoughts on spreading that reputation and talking about yourself without feeling sleezy.

Building a Career Reputation

Since we must live in society and must depend on the opinions of others, there is nothing to be gained by neglecting your reputation. By not caring how you are perceived, you let others decide this for you. Be the master of your fate, and also of your reputation. – The 48 Laws of Power, p. 43

Adopting a Craftsman Mindset

In So Good They Can’t Ignore You, author Cal Newport defines two distinct career approaches, which he terms the craftsman and passion mindsets. In the passion mindset, you’re focused only on what the world offers you. He argues that it represents the way most people think about their working lives. They’re solely focused on the development opportunities, autonomy, and challenging projects the job offers. He points out two flaws to this approach.
  1. “When you focus only on what your work offers you, it makes you hyperaware of what you don’t like about it, leading to chronic unhappiness.”
  2. “…the deep questions driving the passion mindset—”Who am I?” and “What do I truly love?”—are essentially impossible to confirm.”
In contrast, Newport classifies the craftsman mindset as an output-centric approach to work. Instead of focusing on what the world offers you, the craftsman mindset focuses on what you can offer the world.
It [the craftsman mindset] asks you to leave behind self-centered concerns about whether your job is “just right,” and instead put your head down and plug away at getting really damn good. No one owes you a great career, it argues; you need to earn it—and the process won’t be easy.
In my view, this distinction between a passion and craftsman approach to work is key. The former is far more common. The latter is far harder and therefore that much more rewarding.

Deciding What to Focus On

The craftsman mindset drills in the importance of focusing on what you can offer the world and and of getting really good at your craft. Once you have adopted that mindset though, how do you decide what to drill down on? What skill(s) should you build your reputation around? In an upcoming Todoist post, I teased apart the difference between intensive and extensive skills within the workplace. Pulling again from The 48 Laws of Power and using the distinction between Michelangelo and Henry Kissinger to illustrate the difference:
Michelangelo’s power was intensive, depending on one skill, his ability as an artist; Kissinger’s was extensive. He got himself involved in so many aspects and departments of the administration that his involvement became a card in his hand.” 48 Laws of Power p. 87
Intensive value is derived from a specific skill you’ve developed over time. You’re the best developer/marketer/teacher in the world. In contrast, extensive value is derived from your relationships with others. You’re viewed as a connector within an organization. You’re involved in moving multiple related but separate projects along. Both are valuable within an organization. While I don’t think you have to select one at the complete exclusion of the other, I do believe it’s easier to identify one that you’re going to focus on specifically. For example, if your career goal is to build intensive value and become the best developer on the planet, it’s going to require a completely different approach than building extensive value and moving into the C suite.

Becoming Really Damn Good

With the craftsman mindset, we’re approaching our career as a progression, something we can build on an improve. With the distinction between intensive and extensive, we have identified the unique value we can bring to an organization. The final step then is building that value or to reference Newport again, “plug away at getting really damn good.” In So Good They Can’t Ignore You, this bit requires three aspects:
  1. Deliberate practice – Staying intensely focused on the value you want to build and practicing week in and week out.
  2. Feedback – Align yourself with experts and ask them to give you candid feedback. Learn how to receive that feedback well.
  3. Patience – It takes time to get good. Sticking with something for a year is not enough.
One of my favorite quotes in the book comes from Steve Martin. When discussing his approach to learning the banjo during an interview with Charlie Rose, Martin explained:
[I thought], if I stay with it, then one day I will have been playing for forty years, and anyone who sticks with something for forty years will be pretty good at it.” – So Good They Can’t Ignore You, p. 98
< p style="text-align: center;">*** I’ll be the first to admit that this approach mentioned above – starting with the right mindset, drilling down on what you’re going to be good at, then focusing on how you’re going to improve – is unique and contrary to how many go about their careers. I really do believe it’s a path to a rewarding career though. I would also highly recommend picking up all of Cal Newport’s books as they’re fantastic if you’re into this sort of topic. The post Building a Rock Solid Career Reputation appeared first on Jeremey DuVall.

To Rule the World

I heard envy in my sister’s voice. It was ironic to hear it. The life my sister was living was envied by everyone around her. And here she was envying me as I contemplated on my future. She said, “When I heard that you were thinking about what you wanted to be in the future, I wanted what you had. A blank slate. I feel as if I worked so hard to be somewhere I don’t deserve to be. Because I know I deserve better.” I felt proud yet shocked simulatenously. Proud since she knew she deserved better and would do better. Yet shocked to think she thought I had a blank slate. At first, years back, I was fighting to erase my past. However after I learned to accept it I’ve been trying move on. In other words, I would have nothing to be ashamed of if my slate were truly blank. Instead, I told her that she should wish for anything but a blank slate. “Imagine starting all over again. That would be hell. Right now you already have all the tools. You just need to learn how to use them.” I responded as honestly as I could but it was as if we were both talking to ourselves. I was envying my sister who seemed to have her life secure and stable, with a degree from a prestigious college and a job right after. Yet she envied my lack of stability where I had the chance to spread my wings and decide to be anything I wanted in the future. We were both, at that moment, as we spoke over the phone were fighting an internal battle to remind ourselves to be grateful. To be grateful of what we had and to fight for what we wanted later on. We were both terrified of our present. However, that night we ended our conversation with a silent promise to no longer be complacent. She told me, “If anyone had to rule the world. I’d rather it be us. We were never meant to be in the shadows anyway.”  

We Should All Be a Bit Angry

“I’m probably the angriest person here.” That phrasing caught me by surprise. I was at dinner at the 2017 Automattic Grand Meetup in Whistler, BC. I was sitting next to one of the happiest and most enjoyable people I know. This person went on to elaborate on what they meant. They weren’t angry about their current situation, the dinner, or anything else related to that particular point in time. Here’s a short list of things they were angry about:
  • Certain parts of the education system in the US
  • Gender gaps in tech
  • The lack of self-advocacy techniques shared with underrepresented groups (in and out of tech)
We overuse the term “passionate” to describe our various areas of interest. Passion implies a strong belief and an interest in learning more about a particular issue. Often times, passion stops there short of action, short of follow-through that changes the situation for others. “Anger” is different. It implies something more than passion. Yes, you hold a strong belief about the issue. Yes, you want to learn more about it. But, anger doesn’t stop there. It goes a step farther – you’re actively working to change the game for everyone else. Many would characterize themselves as passionate. Not many would say they’re angry.

A Short List That Makes Me Very Angry

If you were to poll my friends and family, they would probably say I’m one of the most positive people they know. I’m a serial high-fiver. My default response to “How are you doing?” is “fantastic.” I try to have a smile on my face at all times. After the conversation mentioned above, I thought through a short list of what makes me angry. What are the causes that I get worked up about on a regular basis? If you had me at a dinner table and wanted me to get all fired up, what would you talk about? Here’s a short list I came up with.

The lack of self-advocacy training and resources.

As a collective, we’re not good at talking about ourselves. In many cases, we’re encouraged specifically not to talk about ourselves within a group. This manifests in several ways, but the most noticeable within an organization involves performance reviews, interviews, and promotions. Self-advocacy is a skill that requires time and practice to develop. It doesn’t come naturally, and it’s necessary particularly for career success. We need more resources like So Good They Can’t Ignore You and Deep Work that encourage individuals to build their own career portfolio. If the boss says, “What exactly do you do around here?” you should be ready.

The lack of emphasis on self-learning.

I have written about this in-depth previously. The most beneficial skill on the planet is learning how to teach yourself something new. It’s a game changer across the board. Our world will continue to move faster and faster. Adapt or die is an applicable mantra. Continuous learning is the answer. Fast learners will continue to excel in the workforce. If we continue to emphasize that learning is finished once you leave school, we’re setting everyone up for failure.

The lack of clarity around nonprofits.

This one strays from the other two quite a bit, but it still rankles me quite a bit. Story after story continues to surface from leading nonprofits about corruption, greed, and minimal impact compared to the donation size. The book Doing Good Better covers this in great detail. We need nonprofits that are mission (not profits) driven and transparent. It should be clear where donated dollar is going when I hand it over. Metrics like “Return on Investment” and “Cost-Effectiveness” should be scrutinized closely. Overall, the public should be more informed.

***

Perhaps anger and passionate are synonymous in some ways. Many passionate individuals are taking the steps necessary to make a difference. In my mind, the two are separate. I’m passionate about fitness, but I’m not worked up enough to change the fitness industry at the moment. I’m angry about the three items listed above. In the next three posts, I’ll clarify the next steps. If passion stops at follow-through, what actions am I taking to change the game for the three items mentioned above? I’ll leave you with the obvious question—what are you angry about? The post We Should All Be a Bit Angry appeared first on Jeremey DuVall.

Attorney Jobs for Beginners

    You can achieve a high social and financial status that anyone wishes to have a career as an attorney. The market for legal staff is growing and law firms realize that they need more legal secretaries and paralegals to make sure the firm is running efficiently and smoothly. However, what confuses most people…

The post Attorney Jobs for Beginners appeared first on BayArt.

My Life and Living With it

At the start of the week I had lost it. I felt like I had lost everything I used to have. My youth, my slim figure, my potential, my hope. I have been worrying about my future constantly for over a week, even when I wasn’t directly thinking about it I felt I nagging, aching…

The post My Life and Living With it appeared first on BayArt.

How much does your dream worth.

How much does your dream worth.

Why is it so  important to have a dream!?  

Dreams gives us motivation and willingness to fight for our future.Some people have a dream to write their own book, maybe biography and maybe fiction. Other people dream to develop their own application or a website. Some girls wish to become models or movie stars. Another category of people willing to become a scientists and discover something new,…

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