Learn fast, work smart and fail fabulously
There isn't time to do everything and hard work alone is no guarantee of success, so how do you make sure that the efforts you do make have the most impact on your career and personal and professional visibility?
Great to talk to #IWScot and #BCSWomen in Edinburgh on 30th May 2019 - I've made the slides & audio from the talk available (17 mins in full). My advice to my younger self includes:
1) Learn faster than everyone else. I put a lot of effort into techniques that help me learn fast - not deep, certainly not perfect, but broad and constant. More isn't always better, it's timing that matters. Your 8 year old self learned this, at 22 you would be wise to re-apply it.
2) Do less, tell more. I put no more than 70% of my effort into doing and the other 30% into communicating what a great job I did - there'll be times in your career where it will need to be more than 30%. You have to sell your achievements to the people whose radar you need to be on, you need well connected "amplifiers" to help your message disperse. Your 14 year old self learned this when you didn't win the school prize you deserved (not an error my school was ever allowed to repeat once I learned the art of self-promotion!).
3) So what? Who cares? Why? To work smarter you need to figure this out so you spend your energy working on and promoting what matters. I aim to do the least amount of work to get as far as possible. To do that you have to focus on a significant business pain point and align your efforts to that pain, and your self promotion messaging must use the same terms and words that the most senior people responsible for the pain use.
4) It's OK to walk away. Never give up is just the worst advice ever. If you've tried everything, if you can't affect change, if it is them not you then save your emotional energy and move on. Never give so much of yourself that you have nothing left.
5) Create your own opportunities. Don't wait for permission, don't wait to be invited. Say yes to everything (health and safety caveats do apply), Be in the right room, which may not be the most comfortable place and you may not like the people in it - but you need to be where the decisions are made. If the door isn't open, try the window (smash it if needs be).
6) You will fail. Fail fabulously. If you're brave, if you try or do anything, you will fail. Try to re-frame failure as practice. When you have failed, save your self-care efforts for yourself. You can't influence problem people or how others spin your narrative, but you can heal yourself and you can tell your story. Failure that you learn from isn't failure at all. Don't let anyone else break your self belief.
7) Remember your friends. When I was at my lowest point, I went home to my best from high school, who adopted me for a bit while I most needed - despite me neglecting her while I was busy running round the world. Never stop learning, never stop working on yourself, but never be less of yourself for anyone. I never forget where I came from and if 8 year old me could achieve what she did, then grown up me can probably do pretty much anything.
I will endeavour to turn this into a full blog post as soon as CEO/Startup duties allow!