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Elevate Your Career: Three Skills You Can't Afford to Ignore

Drawing upon over two decades in the fast-paced world of startups, I think it's fair to say I've accumulated insights and experiences that have profoundly shaped my career.


That's why I want to share three pivotal skills that I've honed over the years. It's expertise that has been instrumental in my journey and can undoubtedly help you elevate yours.


Image of balloons in the air

Here are three skills that can help you excel in your career.

1. Figure out what motivates people. This is important from the most junior to the most senior people on your team, to your prospects and customers, to influencers and partners and the media. Understanding what each person you work with needs is the key to becoming someone that everyone wants to work with. Many times, this is an exercise in messaging and positioning, and it changes not only from person to person but sometimes from day to day. The work you have done or the value you can offer doesn’t change, but the way you massage it into something that makes ears perk up does.


It’s very easy to get caught up in our own narrative. You’ve got to keep thinking about it from the other side of the conversation. No matter who you are working with, they are always thinking, “Yeah? So? What’s in it for me?” Delivering intel that sets people up to be successful (whatever that looks like) turns you into a super valuable resource.


2. Learn how to balance caring deeply about your work with accepting when others disagree. We call this the “agency dance” on my team. We chose our teammates because they are wildly passionate about their work (and damn good at it, too!). But as an agency, there are lots of times when our clients pick a different visual direction, or go with language that wasn’t our favorite. Sometimes they listen to our recommendations and still go in a completely different direction. And that’s okay! It is a skill that you have to intentionally develop to be able to come to work every day refreshed and energized to deliver stellar work, even when your stakeholders disagree. Finding consensus sometimes requires detaching yourself from your strong-held opinions and finding the best solution together. It’s not always easy.


3. Create a ritual for separating work life from personal life. When I lived in Seattle, I used to take the water taxi to work. It was an 8-minute boat ride across a beautiful harbor followed by a 15 minute walk. On the way to work, I got a jumpstart on my email inbox. On the way home, I sat on the top deck of the ferry with my phone shut off and breathed in the beautiful view. It sounds silly, but I still start my day sifting through emails and I have a mini-meditation/breathing exercise I do at the end of each working period. They talk about “work/life integration” now. Your phone is always on and it’s become acceptable to Slack and text colleagues after hours. Sure, there are times when it’s appropriate. But in order for me to come to work ready to be creative and engaged, I need to shut that part of my brain off regularly and consistently.


These skills have been my guiding stars, helping me navigate the stormy seas of startup life. Whether you're embarking on your career or well into it, consider these insights a gift from someone who's ridden some waves in their time. They can be the compass steering you toward a successful and fulfilling career.


Curious to learn more about these concepts and discover more gems for career growth? Read the full article.


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