What’s the most valuable piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
Who did it come from?
In my case, the wisest and most significant guidance has always come from Mom. Yes, even regarding my career.
Mom is on the verge of wrapping up an amazing career, although she humbly reports that it’s not actually a career. In her words, “It’s more like a bunch of unrelated jobs where I was just trying to earn more for my family.”
My sister & I contend that a sequence of unrelated jobs does not land you a spot as Chief Operating Officer of a bank on just a high school education, but Mom remains modest. Despite her COO title.
Of course, she’s been trying to retire for the past few years, but there’s always been a new problem for her to solve. A new challenge to meet. Neither her leadership team, nor her employees want her to go.
But – finally – it’s looking like she’ll successfully extract herself later this month. Fingers crossed!
She’s a wise old bird, as we tell her. And she’s full of gems.
Here are a few of the tips she’s provided me over the years. Every one of them has served me well. The best career advice ever.
Mom’s Best Career Advice Ever
My first job interview: “Don’t wear that ‘Class of 87’ necklace to your job interview. It accentuates how young you really are.”
While I was chasing a dream job: “When they ask if you know how to do something, say ‘Absolutely!’ And then go learn it. Fast.”
After I expressed frustration about slackers at work: “Managers reward their best workers with more work. Take it as a compliment and ignore the slackers. They’re not moving up anytime soon.”
While I was being gossipy about difficult co-workers: “Getting along with your coworkers is always part of the job. Even when your teammates are jerks.”
Demonstrated repeatedly in her work stories: Find a way to satisfy the irate customer without throwing your employee or teammate under the bus. Sometimes tricky, it can be done.
When I felt unappreciated at work and wanted to quit on the spot: “Most likely, they need you more than you need them. But be respectful about it.”
Another time I was feeling unappreciated: “Hard work will usually be rewarded, if you’re patient enough. And if it’s not, they don’t deserve you, so get out. Strategically.”
After landing a great new job, with a less-than-ideal salary: “You don’t get what you deserve…you get what you negotiate. Get better at it.”
A repeated mantra, since my kindergarten days: Always be honest. Especially with your employer and your employees. And never steal the office supplies.
Another time I was whining about unfairness & coworkers: “Someday you’ll hear something that sounds like ‘choo choo!’ That’s the Karma train. It rarely arrives exactly when you want it to, but it’ll come.”
When I considered playing hooky from work: “Taking a sick day when you are not actually sick is just wrong. You’ll need that sick day some day.”
Take these to heart, and you won’t regret it. You’ll create a career of which you can be proud. And someday, no matter how hard you try to retire, your team won’t let you go without a fight.
Happy Mothers Day, Mom! And congratulations on your retirement. I’m so very proud of you!