I've become a fan of Gretchen Rubin's podcast Happier. If you don't listen to it, you should. I recently listened one on good advice. It made me think of the great work-related advice I've received. I thought I'd share them here and I would love to hear your best career-related advice (just comment below).
#1. Get in the habit of writing thank you notes. [So this one is technically both professional and personal advice.] My mom owned and operated a cleaning service when I was young. During summers I would often help her (usually reluctantly) for pay. Little did I know what a valuable learning experience that would be. Not just for the sake of understanding the value of a dollar (and just how hard my mother worked each day), but many of my mom's longtime clients were like family to us. One client, in particular, was always full of great stories and advice for this young preteen. He was the kind of guy that was so wise and articulate that when he spoke, you listened. I don't recall how we got on the subject, but I will always remember when he told me to get in the habit of writing thank you notes. It came to mean more to me than just the physical act of writing a thank you note, but also developing a general sense of gratitude and expressing it. It's not always easy to slow down and take the time to share thankfulness, but it's so important.
#2. Make yourself indispensable. My last year of college, I got an internship at a local ad agency. I remember asking my boss how to ensure I get hired at the end of the internship. I will forever remember him telling me to "Make yourself indispensable. Make it hurt if you weren't here." It was the perfect advice for a young, eager college kid. It really helped shape my professional work ethic.
#3. Limit use of exclamation marks. At the second advertising agency I worked for one of my bosses jokingly made a remark about my excessive use of exclamation marks in emails. Because I take constructive criticism way too seriously, even though it was a light-hearted comment, I asked him to elaborate. He basically said: "Every time you use an exclamation point, pretend you are yelling the sentence. This will help you establish whether or not you need the mark." I still use this advice today. And, it usually gives me a good laugh when I shout sentences in my head to see if they need exclamation marks.
#4. Advice on time management. I used to pride myself on being a workaholic. I would keep crazy hours, responding to emails at random times throughout the night. It became almost some badge of honor showing my utmost dedication to my work. In fact, this "dedication" became something I'd bring up in job interviews as a way to offset the periodic flexibility I required with children. You know the whole: "I need a job that's flexible when I have a sick kid, but I'll always get my work done. Whatever that means - even picking it back up once the kids go to bed." This behavior only hurts you because it's seriously harmful to not have boundaries (that's my advice, by the way...). Anywho, I've got two bits of advice that stand out on this topic. The first is to simply turn off push notifications on your email. My personality will not let me rest if I hear the ding of an email alert or, even worse, see those little red numbers on an app on my iPhone. PURE TORTURE. Once I received the brilliant advice to turn off email push notifications, my life changed. Seriously. The second bit of advice came rather recently. I was in a job interview and did the whole "I need flexibility, but I'll get the work done after hours if I have to" thing. His response went something like this: "I used to be that way as well. Then I realized that if you've got it in your head that you can just take the work home, you will take it home. But if you tell yourself you have to get everything done in the workday, you'll find a way to be more productive and get the work done." So basically, don't make taking work home an option and it won't be. It's amazing how much more productive you are during the day if you take away the "working at home" option. I think this is the epitome of working smarter.
#5. Respond to people, and be pleasant and respectful. I'm not sure this advice came from one person in particular, but rather from several years of being on the "client side" and several years of being on the "agency/vendor" side of marketing and retail. I realized one thing to be true - everyone has a "customer" and everyone answers to someone. For a retailer, it's the shopper. For an agency, it's the client. And everyone is always trying to sell someone something. I've been the one "selling" and also the one "being sold to." Both sides can be exhausting. It's important to remember that an actual human is on either side of that sales conversation and they are just doing their job. Knowing this, I try to respond to every salesperson who personally (keyword there is personally) emails me about their product or service. Even if the product or service isn't relevant to what I do, I respond. And I try to be pleasant when I say no. You will ultimately be on the selling side at some point in your career and you will yearn for someone to just acknowledge you and treat you with respect. It's simply the golden rule for business.
There you have it. What do you think? And what advice do you treasure most? Please comment below.