A question that people have been asking me a lot lately is, “Jesse, what’s the secret to your professional success? How is it that you got to be in the position where you are at. Where you’ve started your own business, and you travel the world for work?” The answer is really simple. If you are ready for it, here it comes.
That’s it. Simple, but also exciting, because it’s actionable. Let me tell you more about what I mean.
Getting involved outside of your office with respect to your career means you have to go to a conference. You have to start attending that meetup that’s down the road. You have to start posting your ideas online; maybe on Twitter, or start a blog, or a couple posts on LinkedIn. You have to start getting your name out into the industry as someone who is kind of good at this. If you are an engineer, or you are a tester, or you’re an analyst, or you’re a project manager, find those conferences, those meetups, those social channels that are talking about what you want to talk about and what you want to be good at.
The Tradeoff Considerations
When I started mentioning this to people, there was one project manager who wanted to become a consultant and she was asking me this question. When I started talking with her about it, she said, “Sure Jesse, but every time I ask my boss to go to a conference, the request is declined.”
Then I said, “Okay. Do you have PTO? Do you have some paid leave?”
She said, “Yeah.”
I said “Well, you’re going to have to take it! Maybe you’re going to have to take a weekend and go to a weekend conference.”
She said, “Well, I can’t do that, because if I do that, that’s going to take away from family time, or personal time.”
Then I responded, “yes, that’s true. In fact,”
The Transactional Career
This comes down to where your mind is at. My question is, “Do you have a transactional mindset with respect to your career?” That is, are you in a “me versus you” approach to looking at the business? Me – the employee, versus you –the employer? “I’m working for you. You should be doing this. You should be approving my requests going out to conferences. You should be giving me time off of my regular assignments in order to go to a meetup. You should be reimbursing me for these things.”
It’s a fair approach to take. It is indeed their responsibility to make sure that you’re good at your job to get the results that they want. However, I’m here to tell you, there’s a price to pay for that approach too, which is your time.
“Sure, I’ll spend $5000 on you this year to go to a conference….
Sure, I’ll give you couple of hundred bucks a month to reimburse you for the cost associated with that meetup that you drove across town and had to pay parking…
If you wait for your boss to come to that realization, that “aha” moment, then you’re going to be waiting a long time, maybe even years.
The Transformational Career
Instead, you might want to start thinking about having a transformational mindset, the one where you start taking ownership of your career, where you start getting out there and meeting people.
It could be argued that, when I look back at specific inflection points in my career, I owe all of my success to going to conferences. Does that cost me money? Yes, it does. Does it cost me time away from my family and a lot of travel? It does. Sometimes, I take them with me. Sometimes, the boss is so impressed with what you accomplish outside the office, you get new opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise. Sometimes, because of those new opportunities, the extra income allows me to take extra time off to recover the family investment.
That’s how I’ve gotten ahead; getting involved, getting to conferences, posting your stuff, writing a blog, writing an eBook. Do something. Get out there. If you want to play, you’ve got to pay. It’s going to take some skin in the game. For you to get ahead, get outside of the office.