During my 35 years of industrial and academic experience, I have been given and shared many pieces of advice for career success.
The Big Four:
- Be on time. Deliver what you promise. Keep others informed when you can’t. It’s your reputation, that’s all!! (The best surprise is no surprise!)
- Everything you know is old – NEVER STOP LEARNING NEW THINGS, and sharing them with others.
- Ask the Questions everyone else is thinking. Help others succeed.
- Push for decisions – Make Decisions.
Politely. Respectfully. Listen MUCH more than you speak. It really works!
“Give yourself 100 days.”
A former VP of a former company said those words to me on my first day as the manager of a team loaded with talented individuals who had been feeling deflated. And wary of change.
From that moment on, my stress level dropped and I felt liberated to make stepwise adjustments to responsibilities and work processes. 100 days passed and I felt as though I had worked there forever, and was extremely happy and energized.
I’d love to say Yogi Berra told me, “When you come to the fork in the road, take it.” But he didn’t actually say it, and certainly not to me. But while at Rohm and Haas, as I was leaving for my first job as a manager, a technician I worked with told me, “You’ll find one guy there with sour grapes who’ll try to trip you up. Go right for him.” He was right. There was, and I was respectful but assertive. This was my team and not his. We learned to work together without breaking each other’s spirit, and the team did some great things.
This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.
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