Conversation Agent - Valeria Maltoni - Career Advice from a Comic Book? Meet Johnny Bunko

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I'd give the following advice:

1. Never become wedded to the job. It's a job - not a life. (Unless you're doing something absolutely amazing, like being an astronaut, a spy, or race car driver...) If you've picked politics - your life is your job.
1b. Never get yourself so far in the hole that you absolutely must stay in the job, just to pay your bills!
1c. Always leave yourself an "out". That way, you can go looking for better opportunities, or even change careers, without penalty.
1d. Remember that changing careers is almost expected, these days. It used to be that getting laid off carried a stigma; these days it seems like a stigma is you haven't been laid off!
1e. Remember that while the employer says they want your loyalty - you don't have to give it to them. They'll be loyal to you (yeah, right), right up to when they lay you off. See 1c. There's that old cynicism: if you want loyalty, get a dog. It's an oldie and goodie because it's fairly accurate.

2. Get a mentor. This is easier said than done, however.
2b. Figure out how to develop a good reputation. (Hint: it's not by being a faceless drone in a cubicle.)
2c. Be willing to take chances. And responsibility. Not just "yes, I'll get that done", but own up to your mistakes. It's not making mistakes that gets us - it's how we deal with them. Be different to your fellow workers, and own up to being human. Turn the screw ups into lessons and tales that you can laugh about.
2d. Join a trade and/or social organization.
2e. Contribute to aforementioned trade group - you need to build your reputation!
2f. If someone offers advice, you're not bound to accept it. If it's unsolicited - it usually comes with a hidden cost. Watch out for when that unknown payment is due. (This bit of advice comes free of any encumbrance; and you're free to do with it as you will! :-) )
2g. Don't pretend to be above the office politics fray; but be honest about it. It's a job - the stakes aren't as high as you might think. On the other hand - if you've worked yourself into a debt hole, you might need to be really good at office politics. (Don't want to be involved in the knuckle-dragging? Work for yourself.) 2h. Lose the political battle? Suck it up - and count yourself a team player.
2i. Win the battle? Be fair - just remember that we always meet those we climbed over to get to the top on the way down.
2j. Don't do anything stupid. Don't think you'll get caught? Neither do all those who get caught doing something stupid. Do something dim, and you will be caught. An honest mistake is one thing, a monumental lapse of judgment is quite another.
2k. Learn for yourself. Employer not sending you on those courses? Figure it out for yourself. Don't rely on your boss to manage your career; they won't. They're too busy trying to manage their own! The boss will help you realize his or her goals, which aren't going to be the same as yours.
(This was something that I continually found, as a manager. My staff wanted me to manage their careers, and training. Like that was going to happen! I was happy to approve the money for training courses - that were relevant to my, the CIO's and the organizational goals, but I certainly wasn't going to develop their careers for them!)

3. Accept change. That's one thing about the world that's not going to change. (Sorry...)
3b. As that old saw goes: be the change you want to see.
3c. Be willing to change your job or career, and in your job or career. Goodness knows - if you're not willing to change, you'll find your employer more than willing to change you. For someone else more accepting to the "proposed" changes.
3d. Whew. That was a lot of change. :-)

And finally: enjoy what you do. You spend enough time at work, getting there and back, and it will generate enough stress, anyway, that you might as well work in something you find interesting!

Mostly it's about treating others to the same consideration you want yourself.

Carolyn Ann

@John - the Japanese culture is fascinating and this new vehicle to carry information looks much more interactive and interesting. In a couple of weeks when the book comes out, I will be running a Q&A with Dan Pink here. Stay tuned.

@Susan - I think that is one of the lessons in the book. As with marketing, it says "it's not about you."

@Dion - info-blahness is the most egregious. It's risk management, but ends up becoming sameness. Dan Pink has pioneered the whole "Free Agent" notion, and the idea of "Whole Braininess".

The format of business books has been begging for fresh air for a long, long time. I hope this loosens the entire genre up... not just for the sake of doing something different, but to address the readers' issues - all the ones you point out, time, info-overload, info-sameness, info-blahness.

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