When I first resigned from my job as a headhunter, a friend asked if I wanted to start a new headhunting business together. It would have been easy to make money fast due to my experience.
“No,” I said, “because even as a top performer, I can’t even help a 100 people land the right job in year. And there are millions of people that need help. How many headhunters would the company need to have to help a million people? Too many and won’t happen. So there’s not enough impact.”
He laughed and said, “Okay I admire that! But I can’t believe you’re still thinking about impact. You’re old now, you should think about money!”.
“If I am able to create value for a million lives, the money will come.” I replied.
This conversation happened 5 years ago before WOBB even started.
Today, we have had over a million people visit our platform to look for jobs. And sometimes I would get a message from a jobseeker to thank us because they found a job through WOBB.
Nothing beats the feeling of being able to touch so many lives and building a company that has a strong voice in the industry.
Focus on creating value, not chasing money. It’s a “happier” way to build a career. Because if you create value for others, the money will come anyway.
“Don’t be stupid and work hard for the company. The company doesn’t care about you. Do the minimum required and look after yourself first.”
This is dangerous career “advice” because it puts people in an adversarial relationship with their own company. It’s you vs the company.
They subconsciously believe that if the company is winning, it must mean they are losing. And for them to win, the company has to lose. That they are not “on the same team”.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Because, think about it:
How could our career flourish if our company is struggling?
Our relationship with our company is symbiotic.
If the company does well, it reflects well on us. And the reverse is true also. If the company dies, people will see that we were partly responsible for it. After all, a company is only as good (or bad) as its people.
I’m not suggesting we should sacrifice other important parts of our life for our work. But I am suggesting that we should value our employers better and how our work contributes to the company’s success.
So the next time someone gives you this toxic advice, realise that this mentality is one of the most damaging mindsets for your long term career.
Our company wants us to succeed. Because that’s the only way the company succeeds. Our goals are aligned.
If you’re unhappy with your job right now, it’s because what you expected your career or job to be is different from reality.
But the truth is, jobs are hard and building a good career is even harder. And it’s not just you who experiences this reality, everyone else does too.
You can, however, change something immediately, if you want to feel happier.
Change your expectations.
Expect that there will be moments that are stressful. Expect that sometimes you will be misunderstood. Expect that any organisation will have politics.
Ask yourself this instead:
“What should I be grateful for?”
“Who are the people who wished they had my job / career?”
Know that whatever challenge you are experiencing is normal. And instead, take on your job with a renewed sense of gratefulness and energy. And the desire to improve and be better at handling obstacles.
One of my favourite quotes:
“Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.” – Jim Rohn
When I was in college, I was asked to present our team’s project to the class. It wasn’t a big class, only about 40 people. But when I got up on stage, I completely froze. No words would come out of my mouth.
After several minutes of silence (an eternity), my lecturer couldn’t bear to watch the humiliation any further and asked me to sit down and be replaced on stage.
I have always been a shy person. And the shock from this memory haunted me for the next 10 years as I never got on stage again.
But I refused to believe in the story that I’ve been telling myself for 10 years. The story that I suck at public speaking.
So instead, I said yes to every opportunity to speak publicly. Challenging myself in every uncomfortable situation possible.
The first time after 10 years was nerve wrecking. And slowly, it got easier and easier.
Today I’m speaking publicly all the time, sharing ideas on stage with really smart people, who will examine every word.
And I’m comfortable.
All of us are more capable than we realise. We need to let go of the bad stories of our past. Don’t let it define us.
Failure is an advantage, because you got started.
It took me 10 years to take a second step. You don’t have to wait 10 years. Take a risk and live to your full potential.
If you’re having a tough time at work, remember to not get overwhelmed to the point where you no longer notice all the good you have in your life.
Notice the family you have. Your spouse, your children, your parents.
The supportive friends you have, at work and after work.
Notice the privileges you’ve had, such as being able to have an education, have enough to eat, and having a roof over your head.
Notice them and be grateful.
Realise that you are actually already happy if you paid attention to the right things.
Don’t promote someone based on how well they speak or how they carry themselves. Promote people based on their efforts and the results they produce for your company.
When we promote someone based on our “gut feeling” rather than actual results, we create situations where office politicians who don’t achieve much for the company (and just have good relationships with the boss) can get ahead, and your real contributors get side lined.
Before promoting someone, ask ourselves “What did this person actually achieve for us? Is my decision based on my emotions or facts?”.
Don’t get distracted or blindsided by people that speak eloquently. And remind yourself that just because someone speaks well, doesn’t mean they are a good leader. Because leadership is more than just being able to “sound capable”. You actually have to BE capable.
To all the people who are about to graduate or recently graduated, if you feel lost or undecided on what career path to choose, I understand why we would want to find the best path forward or try to be certain.
I’ve got a short message for you.
Perhaps to most empowering thing we can all learn today, is how to say “no”.
Too often we agree to things because we don’t want to offend, or come across as uncooperative.
But even though in the short term you risk offending the other person, in time they will see that you are strong and have your own principles and priorities. And they will learn to respect you.
Say no to friends that are a bad influence.
Say no to partners that want to win while you lose.
Say no to colleagues that take advantage of you by asking you to prioritize their work over your own.
Speak up and tell people what you want. Take back control of your life. Guard your time like it’s the most precious resource you have. Because it is.
How often do we see nice people get taken advantage of because they can’t say no?
Last week, I was almost late to an important meeting, so I rushed to my car, got inside, but realised the engine wouldn’t start!
In a moment of agitation, I thought to myself:
“I can’t believe this is happening now!”
“I have so many issues to deal with, now I have to deal with my car!”
“I need the car this weekend!”
This went on for about a minute. But my conscious mind quickly caught myself spiraling into a negative state. That’s when I decided to change my mind’s voice. I decided to practice gratefulness instead of feeling like a victim.
“I’m so lucky that I can grab a taxi so quickly using an app. Now I’m not going to be late.”
“It’s a good thing that I have a second car at home, not everyone is as lucky to have a second car.”
“I’m grateful that I can call my family for help, so I can focus on my work.”
I immediately created a positive emotional state, and was back in a productive mood, ready to take on challenges again.
We have more power over our emotional state than we realise, and can choose how our inner voice speaks to us. Had I stayed in a “victim” state, it would have had a negative impact on my work for the rest of the day. But I chose gratefulness, and you can too.
I promise this choice will encourage the world to react positively to you too.
Coincidentally in the last few weeks, five different people asked me about the “importance of networking”.
And I told them – if you think about your activities as “networking”, you probably got it wrong. Going to gatherings and shaking hands with influential people is not networking. They won’t help you because they are surrounded by people who want to network with them ALL THE TIME.
I go to very few gatherings. When I meet people, it’s about discussing a common goal together, never small talk. All my “network” was not from me trying to meet influential people. I was just driven by my work, and the right people showed up because they were interested in the work that I do.
And if we contacted each other, we will genuinely try to help each other out, even though we’ve not known each other for long.
That’s because to build a real network, there needs to be trust and mutual respect. Trust is built because they know I am not meeting them for the silly reason of “trying to network”. I am meeting them on equal grounds, discussing how we can add value to each others’ goals.
We shouldn’t try to shake the hands of influential people for the sake of networking. If you want a real network, focus on being driven by your work, and the right network will appear.