When I started my last corporate job. On the first day, I asked some experienced co-workers for advice and best-practices to succeed. And most of them told me this: “Try to get in front of important people & appear, as it would help you gain credit”
I soon realized and, “That’s corporate code for sucking up & ending up your bright career.”
It wasn’t my first time working for a large company. I’d seen a lot of suck-ups in order to get promotions, and in a moment of weakness, I had listened to those idiots as well.
The “get in front of important people” advice stated clearly for me to schedule unnecessary meetings with random people in the office, always saying something during board meetings, pretending you’re working while you’re watching YouTube videos on your machine and staying at the office until late when you’re not being productive at all.
But sucking up didn’t feel right — I just couldn’t stick to it. It was probably not my style at all. But it’s so tempting as people get rewarded for that type of behaviour in any workplace. It’s important to be ‘seen’ working by your seniors.
Also, everyone wants a promotion? So you get lured into the trap. That’s why I understand why people who start at corporations decide to play politics & credit wars — don’t think that it’s normal.
But the advice “get in front of important people,” is a horrible one. Anything that is close to that sounds like “fake it till you make it,” or “you need to network your way up,” are also equally bad ones. It’s all based on appearances, outlooks & display.
The Other Way
I was lucky enough to finally find a stand-up guy who I could learn from. He was a new VP in another department, who was crushing his role. We met at the elevator, talked a little bit, hit it off, decided to schedule some time to properly meet up later.
I thought he was very honest and nurturing, so I told him the “getting in front of people” advice I received, and asked his opinion. Also, we had no ties nor mutual interests amongst — i.e. no politics between us.
He said: “Stay away from the chit-chat. Do your work passionately. Let your results speak for you instead of words.”
He said that he never had played politics, never applied for a managerial role. He simply worked hard, people recognized his work & results, and THEY came to him with opportunities. And he loved the complete process.
It was the best piece of career advice I’ve ever received and the one which I’d love to pass on as well. It’s good because it’s simple. And it works for every single industry, every single time.
“Big ideas are primarily simple ideas.” — David Ogilvy
But it’s also tough advice for people to take and digest. It’s uncertain: Do your job passionately and hope for the best in return. You will get rewarded when you would work hard.
Simple to state as an old saying: “Good things will come in due time.”
“Yeah, Right! I want Instant Results.”
Yes, and the kid wants his candy NOW. Calm down a bit.
We’re all obsessed with quick results and blueprints to easy success. We want people to give us that formula: Do X, and gain Y in return.
But unfortunately, things don’t work this way. You need to be on a lookout for opportunities and be ready when you find them.
My exact blueprint? I HAVE NO IDEA.
I just do my work and I don’t procrastinate over the task I feel I am supposed to do. I’m also not a magician, so, I can’t trick people to work with me.
No matter how many marketing hacks you use, if you keep wasting time on appearances and ‘showing-off’ your work, you never get better at what you do & gain perfection over it.
Try this: Instead of always trying new things, appearing busy, or doing things that are not important, try to keep things straight & simple. Focus on your core competencies, skill set and work on THEM. No gimmicks, or tricks or false promises, just REAL work.
“Quit or be exceptional. The average is for losers.” — Seth Godin
In the end, this is the simplest & the best career advice anyone can ever receive: Do your job well. PERIOD. That’s the ONLY career advice you’ll ever need. And the results will come. (P.S. you don’t even have to be the best in the world, to start; just simply be better than the average people)
If they don’t, let me know, then we can go back to sucking up. But I’m pretty much sure that it will never happen! Let’s get to work now.