Firstly, I don’t give a damn whether you work for someone or you are an entrepreneur. These skills I’m about to talk about are relevant to any career in anything. Period.
The right set of skills can make you indispensable. When you have the right set of skills you get to experience what I’ve been lucky enough to encounter:
– Choosing how much money you’ll earn
– Opportunities to work for a company and have a side business
– Being measured on outcomes rather than time at a desk
– Having mentors who crush it and inspire you
– Having the freedom to say no to pretty much anything
– Gaining respect from the people that matter
– Having decision makers ask for your advice
– Getting to inspire others
– Taking quality vacations
“That all sounds fine and dandy Mr. Tim. Geez, I want that so bad.”
Excellent! Keep nodding your head and focus on only these skills from now on:
Doing things for the greater benefit.
Many people take on work in their career to make themselves look good rather than for the benefit of the company or god forbid the customer (customer first remember?).
“The winning skill in a high performing career is to make the things you do at work be about more than just you and your own selfish agenda. People will uncover your hidden agenda and the ego that sits alongside it quicker than you think”
The challenge is they won’t tell you. The weapon I’ve used in my own career is to try and find ways to be bigger than just Tim Denning and his selfish desires.
Social, social, social.
I feel like a robot with the loop button pressed down. I keep saying this and I’m going to keep doing it. The one skill I have developed that has changed my career and gave me what I wanted is this:
###It’s social media.###
Becoming a thought leader in your field and using social media correctly will elevate you to levels of success you could only imagine. When I say using social media correctly what I mean is this:
– Quit posting about how good you are with captions like “Check out who I met today.”
– Be on one social media channel daily. I’d recommend LinkedIn.
– Post content that is different and uniquely you.
– Forget what people think.
– Become the expert in one thing and only one thing. Then, talk about it.
– Be creative and interesting.
Saying no to meetings.
Yes, this one’s a skill. The temptation to sit around a table, sip coffee and talk (and go off track) is hard to resist. It’s much easier than work.
Meetings are generally not productive and they are the biggest use of time in any business. Turn meeting requests into straightforward and open dialogue.
“I’ve found that most meetings happen between colleagues who don’t communicate openly, or worse yet, don’t trust each other”
When there’s trust, you can just get to the point and ask questions. When there’s no trust, you need hierarchical meetings and egos in a room.
The beauty of compassion.
Learn to see things from other people’s point of view. Your own lens is biased and probably full of cracks. Understanding a business challenge from multiple angles will bring you much closer to the end solution.
You’ll quickly gain respect in your career when you can learn to go beyond your own needs and feelings and transcend into the next level that is compassion for everyone you encounter.
Business is difficult and it can wear you down. Remember that whenever someone makes a mistake. You’ve been there too and don’t pretend you haven’t.
Admitting you’re wrong.
I famously tell people how I said no to coffee pods when given the opportunity to be in on the ground floor before companies like Nespresso came out and killed it with this product.
I thought coffee beans that required grounding were the only answer. I was wrong.
Admitting when you’re wrong is something senior leaders and entrepreneurs crave. None of us have a monopoly on information and we’re wrong more often than we think we are.
I meet many people in my career who guard the fact they were wrong with their life. They’ll never admit when they’re wrong – they flat out refuse.
These same people are always looking for new jobs and saying “The company is screwed” or something along those lines. Blaming the company is lame. Take a look at yourself once in a while.
The ability to make mistakes once in a while.
Notice I didn’t say “fail fast” or some cliché like that? The reason is that to have a high performing career, you can’t fail most of the time otherwise, well, you’re probably an incompetent moron.
Yes, we need to make mistakes but if most of what you do falls into that category, then you shouldn’t be proud of that.
Failure is only a badge of honor when it’s followed up by successful execution.
Being able to swing the axe.
This is an Aussie term. In simple terms, it means to be able to say yes or no. Too many times, you’ll meet people in business who can’t say yes or no. They stay on what they believe is safe, neutral ground in the middle.
They remain under attack from both the yes side and the no side which screws them even more.
Not needing to look good.
You can’t be amazing to all people. Some people will think you suck; some will think you are Superman or Superwoman; others will think you’ve lost your mind and have no clue about business. These buckets of opinions are mostly fixed.
Trying to look good to everyone, 100% of the time is exhausting. If you don’t have any critics, then you’re not making enough of an impact or trying hard enough.
Bringing data to the forefront.
I see people all the time in business making comments like “The customer wants X.”
My answer is always “How do you know that?”
The response is typically one of these:
“That’s what our competitors are doing and it’s working.”
“I asked Bob in X department and he said he saw customers three times wanting this.”
“We ran a paid focus group.”
Let me dispel some myths here. Someone who is high-performing in their career uses at least some data to back up their thinking and decisions. Your competitors are probably going on today’s market but that doesn’t mean they will be right tomorrow.
Bob in X department is probably biased and has his own agenda as to why he has formed an opinion about what customers need. And finally, paid focus groups tell you what you want to hear or whatever is the easiest answer.
Quality data must be part of your career if you want to solve problems no one else is solving. Opinions, small sample sizes and lazy research won’t help you or your company.
Presenting a straightforward argument.
Standing in front of an audience in your career and presenting an argument is something you’ll have to do if you want to be high-performing.
Being able to present that argument in simple terms is a challenge. Most of your audience won’t have the same level of context or knowledge on the matter at hand as you.
That’s why keeping it simple and focusing on the law of three will help you win. Rather than filling up slides with hundreds of points, focus on using three points/takeaways.
Make your argument compelling, clear, concise and to the point. Your audience will probably only remember 2-3 points so make sure the ones they do remember are your best.
A high-performing career needs a healthy dose of kindness. When someone wants you to mentor them or do them a favor, don’t always say no – show kindness. Kindness demonstrates an understanding of how the world functions.
We wouldn’t have Uber, Amazon, Google or Apple if someone didn’t show kindness. All of these companies faced into decision makers when they were early stage who had the power to determine their future. These decision makers had to take a chance and show kindness.
Demonstrating kindness is how you get some back in your own career.
“Be the change that you not only want to see in the world but the change you want to see in your career too”
Embracing less is more.
Okay, this one is a superpower in my eyes. When faced with multiple tasks or decisions, the high-performing individual will always choose less. They’ll choose impact and outcomes over volume.
Spreading yourself too thinly will ensure you achieve nothing. You may as well stay at home on the couch and watch Netflix & chill.
Most requests of your time should equal no.
This is a great rule that I’ve seen CEOs and entrepreneurs use a lot. Almost every request of their time is a no unless it aligns with one of their key priorities. Outsourcing equals focused results.
There’s always someone who is less disciplined who can waste their time instead of you using up yours.
Speaking in front of others.
I’m no guru and you surely must know this by now. I’m going to reiterate that communicating is crucial for a successful career. Being able to stand up in front of others, be confident, bold and deliver a message is how you out-perform and do the impossible.
Have an epic network.
Whenever I’m faced with a problem, I turn to an epic network to seek out different views to my own. It’s taken years to cultivate but it allows me to be one degree of separation to almost anyone I’d ever want to contact or do business with.
My own views are limited and what I’ve seen is only one-billionth of what actually exists. Your network is more valuable than your experience. Having the world’s best who have seen the challenge you are facing before is a brilliant weapon to have.
Three tips for an epic network:
– Give more than you receive
– Do what you say you’re going to do
– Be bold and seek out people for your network
– Be known as an expert in one thing
You can present only dry facts or statements, or you can use stories. Stories cause people to think and they allow the injection of emotion. Stories bring people closer to what you’re saying. The trouble is we can all tell stories to some degree and that’s not enough.
Stories within the context of your career must be:
– Demonstrate a point
Many stories have no point, take up too much time, are dry and don’t serve any real purpose. Get good at storytelling if you want to become influential in your career and ultimately high-performing.
A high-performing career is built on one fundamental idea: You must believe in yourself before anyone else will. All of us have L-Plates on. We’re all f*cking up every day and trying to have that dream career.
Your challenges are not unique.
So, with that said, the only differentiating factor is believing in yourself as a starting point. Everything else in your career can be cultivated from that seed of hope.
If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net