3 Refreshing Career Advice

As we come to a close of this year, it is good to remind ourselves on what we have achieved in our careers. It is also an appropriate time for us to plan for our next high in this new year. I thought it would be a great idea if I were to contribute to our thinking about our careers with the following brief highlights of a good book entitled The Start-up of You co-authored by Reid Hoffman, chairman and cofounder of LinkedIn. *Thanks to Jenson Tham, my Linkedin relationship manager, for passing me this book.*

The Start-up of You is a straightforward book with good insights and numerous legend stories from Silicon Valley. I would go as far as saying that this book is a must-read for all under-graduates and fellow colleagues who want to progress fast in their careers. Essentially, it advocates the start-up mindsets and skill sets we should arm ourselves with in this new world of work reality. Cliché it may sound, globalization and technology have accelerated the change in our world, and it will be faster. Those of us who don’t evolve and progress will be left behind. Sound sobering? Let's get down to the three key ideas from this book that resonated in me.

The three puzzle pieces:Your assets, aspirations, and the market realities

The book starts off advocating for the need for both introspection and extrospection. Not only it is important to reflect upon our own assets in terms of skill sets, reputations, professional accreditations, etc., it is equally important to reflect upon one’s aspirations (deepest wishes, ideas, goals, and vision of the future). Inward reflecting on our assets and our aspirations aren't enough, the rooting of these two thinking to the market realities ensures that our career pursuits stay profitable.

This notion may not be as ground breaking but it does serve as a critical bridge towards a good career plan. It also serves as a reminder to assess each piece of the puzzle (assets, aspirations, and market realities) regularly as each piece of your career puzzle evolves in shape and size over time.

ABZ planning

Traditional approach to career planning, at its core, focuses on doing up a well thought out plan to achieve your career aspirations and sticking to that same old plan for the next 10 years. What's prescribed is a huge dose of rigorous thinking and planning that may take a lifetime to figure it out. What's problematic with this approach is that constant change in the pieces of our career puzzles will not be aligned to such a conventional approach. Instead of launching a "career missile", I say we draw out our "career pistols" and keep aiming and shooting at our moving targets. In other words, engage in what the book calls ABZ planning, an adaptive approach to planning that promotes trial and error.

So what is this weird sounding ABZ planning? I like the analogy used by the book to describe this approach to steering your ship. In this analogy, Plan A refers to that land of paradise you hope to arrive. Plan B refers to probably that island, located near to that land of paradise. Finally, Plan Z is that fallback position: your lifeboat. I don't know about you but I simply love this ABZ Planning approach. It is somewhat liberating as it assures one that you don't have to wait till you have a perfect career plan to start doing something for your career. Start doing now. See and feel where the wind takes you, and adjust accordingly with your binoculars in hand.

Paradigm shift on Networking

We all know that the harnessing of our professional connections is key to our success. I love the idea from the book that describes this connection mathematically: I to the power of WE. More than that, this book advocates that we should be building genuine relationships with our professional connections. Get to serve your professional connections well because you are a giver and a giver will reap more than he sows. Hence, stop collecting business name cards and start learning about that human behind that name and title.

In a Nutshell

Building a career is a journey and the high comes from that journey rather than the destination. This book has indeed nailed down on the how's in enjoying the career journeys of our lives. Go grab a copy of this book. Hopefully you will gain an insight that will change your career for the better.

Following link to a summary of this book from TheStartUpOfYou.com if you are interested to know more - http://www.thestartupofyou.com/wp-content/themes/startupofyoutheme2012/img/TheStart-UpofYou-ExecutiveSummary.pdf

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