Posted in The People You Need

People You Need to DROP!

People To Drop! As important as it may be to have feedback friends, cheerleaders, references, connections/contacts, and career investors it is also important to drop the haters.

haters-katt-williams
If you have never watched the comedian Katt Williams take on haters look it up! It has some rough language, but the point is solid.

Haters:  What you are trying to do is not ordinary; in fact, it is extraordinary. Extraordinary people draw all sorts of haters. I learned years ago if you show me whom you are traveling with I can tell you where you are going.

In high school if I was getting in the car with Aaron or Chris, the destination was predetermined. I was headed towards self-doubt, ridicule, and destroyed self-esteem. Guys love to rip on each other, but these two always took it too far. They made sure I knew my place was beneath them. They were good at sports and getting girls, so I thought I was ‘cool’ by association.

As I grew older I realized these ‘friends’ always left me feeling bad. They built themselves up by tearing me down.  Over the years I have dropped all negative people from my inner circle. This lesson is important for young career builders.  Moving to D.C. to start a new career is exciting and terrifying so the last thing you need is people tearing you down.  I will always remember my senior

Just some of the amazing new friends I have made in D.C.!

year of college Chris proclaiming in front of several people “dude, you can’t get into American University. That is where Michelle Smith went to graduate school and she was valedictorian of her high school.” I did get into American University, but that was not what I needed to hear the day after I mailed my application.

Now is the time to weed out negative people. (For more insight check out this Levo article, When Your Ambition Doesn’t Line Up with Your Friends).

Having the Steadfast Spirit means to surround yourself with good people and distance yourself from those who refuse or are incapable of being a positive force in your life. Plus, by weeding out the haters you are making room for the new amazing people you are about to meet!

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Posted in The People You Need

Career Investors

One of the central themes of the Steadfast Spirit is proper self-management. Ultimately success will be based around your ability to build networks, but without proper self-management those relationships never grow, or worse can become destructive. Below is one of the several types of relationships you will need to develop and lean upon.

Career Investors: Career investors are people who have a personal and sometimes professional stake in your career. They feel like they have become a part of your career and feel invested. Career investors often are original contacts/connections. Building contacts/connections can become like a snowball. Person A introduces you to person B who introduces you to person C and so on. A great way to create career investors is to update person A and/or B on your snowball. For example, I met a young guy from Arkansas named Mark. Turns out I knew Mark’s older brother, and we had a lot in common. I introduced Mark to one person. That person introduced him to another and the snowball grew. Each time he met someone new he told me about it and asked me questions. When he met with their contacts/connections he always asked me if I knew them. Suddenly I was communicating with him regularly and giving him advice, I felt very invested. It was not surprising that quickly Mark was meeting people whom I also knew which further deepened our connection. Now if there is any type of position or opportunity I hear about I text him right away because I feel really invested in Mark’s career. Another reason I feel invested in Mark is because I was able to land him an interview that did not work out. My company jerked him around and ended up not hiring anyone. Mark showed the Steadfast Spirit and was overly appreciative despite the bad situation, never pouting to me. This made me feel further invested because I felt bad the opportunity had not worked out, and I still want to make it up to him.

Recently, Jake, a friend of a former intern from my campaign work, contacted me asking for advice. He had a great resume so we were able to quickly move past that and start talking about his career aspirations (see what a good resume can do?). He wasn’t yet sure what those aspirations were, but after talking to me and some other people I connected him with, he decided he wanted to work on a political campaign. Within two weeks he had three interviews and offers from political campaigns all of which came from my recommendations and leads. Jake wasn’t sure what to do because his top pick was dragging their feet and after strategizing with me he was able to get a firm start date from his top choice. In the short term and on the surface this was a great success for Jake, but sadly he missed the opportunity to convert me into a career investor. Sure, I’m still a recommendation, but I could have been both. I had become really invested in him finding a job and was ecstatic when my connections and advice had paid off. Jake lost me as a long-term career investor because three months later I had not heard from him at all. I do not even know if he is still on the campaign I helped him join.

The right thing would have been to let me know he had moved and was settled in to the new job. Then ask me questions or give me updates every 4-6 weeks. It is becoming apparent if I ever hear from him again it will be after the campaign and he needs another job, at which point I won’t really feel invested in him.

A great way to flip a contact/connection into an investor is when you are offered a position. Whether you are unsure about the job or it is a great position and there is no way you won’t accept the job it does not matter. Reach out to the right contacts/connections and get their input and ask, “do you think I should take the job?” Once they say yes you have created their investment. You can update them periodically and thank them for the ‘great advice to take the position.’ Follow Mark’s example by creating the investment opportunities for the investors.

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Posted in The People You Need

Contacts

One of the central themes of the Steadfast Spirit is proper self-management. Ultimately success will be based around your ability to build networks, but without proper self-management those relationships never grow, or worse can become destructive. Below is one of the several types of relationships you will need to develop and lean upon.

Contacts: Contact are people you know through networking. I have dozens of different contacts. They are people you met through different means but with career/professional intentions implied upfront. I have received incredible help from contacts/connections, but it would be awkward and potentially unprofessional to invite them to something social, because our relationship is primarily professional.

Sometimes you can become friends with your contacts/connections over time, but usually you do not. Obviously this group is vital, but they are not as valuable as references because they have never worked with you professionally. This is why the best contacts/connections often come through references or feedback friends. In this way the contact/connection has a certain level of assurance in you from your mutual contact.

 

I’ve had contacts/connections refer me for positions and simply state “I’ve met Tommy and he is a great guy. I also am a good friend with his former manager, who said he is a really hard worker.” That’s the kind of reference that will get you places because there is a level of trust and reliability in their support of you.

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Posted in The People You Need

References

One of the central themes of the Steadfast Spirit is proper self-management. Ultimately success will be based around your ability to build networks, but without proper self-management those relationships never properly grow or worse can become destructive. Below is one of the several types of relationships you will need to develop and lean upon.

reference-check

 

References: All of you should be familiar with this term. References are people who can vouch for you as a professional. Most often references are former supervisors whom you list when applying to a job, but for our purposes they are much more. Besides your boss, they can be former co-workers, teammates, and anyone else who has witnessed what you can do. They are important to stay in touch with because they can vouch for you at the highest level. There is nothing better than being introduced by someone who can testify firsthand about the work you are capable of doing. References are more than a contact/connection because they have interacted with you professionally and understand your strengths, weaknesses, and skills.

References can overlap. Tyler and I have worked together so he can serve as both a reference and a feedback friend. It is important you stay in touch with all of your references. You may never become friends, but try to stay in touch so when you do need help they are not hearing from you for the first time in years.

 

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Posted in The People You Need

Cheerleaders

One of the central themes of the Steadfast Spirit is proper self-management.
Ultimately success will be based around your ability to build networks but without proper self-management those relationships never grow or worse can become destructive. Below is one of the several types of relationships you will need to develop and lean upon.

Cheerleaders: The best cheerleader is usually your mom. My other cheerleaders are my two friends Thomas and Mac. Cheerleaders usually do not know much about your professional world but they think you arspartan_cheerleaders_snle great. These are the people you call when you are down because they will lift you up. This can be vital when you are having no success in your job search or feeling defeated at work.

It is important to understand though that cheerleaders are there for vital self-esteem boosts but legitimate consultation should come from feedback friends, contacts, and career investors. I’ve been known to call Thomas to feel better about myself so I can then call Marshall to give me some hard truth.

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Posted in The People You Need

Feedback Friends

One of the central themes of the Steadfast Spirit is proper self-management. Ultimately success will be based around your ability to build networks but without proper self-management those relationships never grow or worse can become destructive. Below is one of the several types of relationships you will need to develop and lean upon.

Feedback Friends: My feedback friends are James, Tyler, Marshall, Spencer, Dan and Dave. A feedback friend is first and foremost a friend. A feedback friend is someone who knows you as a person and your relationship exists because you like each other outside any type of professional benefit.

You trust one another and more importantly care about each other. A feedback friend is someone who gives you legitimate and sometimes tough feedback. These are the people you go to when you are struggling, and they are the people that tell you things you need to hear over what you want to hear. Feedback friends usually should be in your relative field of work. Although I don’t do exactly the same type of work as these  guys, they all work in D.C. and usually understand my situation. I have never made a serious career move or decision without consulting at least one of these guys. Asking for this type of feedback from contacts/connections can be tricky. They do not know you that well and may feel uncomfortable being overly blunt or truthful with you.

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