1. Learn how work with other people to get to a common outcome. Virtually, any job and any step up to leadership will depend on relationships with multiple functions and with people both inside and outside of the company. So learning how to bring together people to achieve a common goal has been invaluable. The most important thing that people can do when they’re trying to work on something is to be super clear on your objective. What’s the problem you want to solve? What’s the opportunity you see? When people are really aligned on the problem you’re trying to solve it allows them to bring their unique talents and perspectives to creating a solution, that’s better than any one person could do alone.
2. Focus a lot less on your job title and more about what are the attributes of the job. What can you contribute? What can you learn? Who are the people that you are going to be surrounded by? Is it a company with ethics that you share? When those characteristics are in place, almost regardless of the industry or the job itself, you can probably contribute a lot. You can probably learn a lot.
3. Don’t put your life on pause. There was a sense in our twenties that things were still temporary. That it wasn’t till you got married or had kids that real life began. There is this tendency to hold off on some things…almost like you don’t buy real furniture until you get a house or something like that. We never even thought about buying a house or apartment. Why would that be? Why would you do that? It’s not about waiting in the wings. This is a stage. Who knows if this stage might last a decade or it might last three years or it might last… 20 years. But as opposed your life always being about the next stage — the when are you going to get married? When are you going to have kids? Just enjoy the stage for what it is rather than a stepping stone to next stage.
-40-something, San Francisco, C-level exec from CPG to Non-Profit