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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

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Words of wisdom that work at work
Harvey Mackay

July, 2007

A few weeks ago I wrote a column about the 10 lessons you aren't taught in college. I received a lot of feedback, including a suggestion that I give some specific advice for new workers.

Would I pass up an opportunity like that? The lessons I shared earlier also apply to those who have just entered the workforce—develop relationships and keep networking, find advisors and mentors, build your reputation, set goals, get along with people, be happy, smile, have a sense of humor, be yourself and volunteer. You can check out my comments on each lesson by reading "What they don't teach you in school".

But once you are on the job, you need to keep developing your skills. Here are some lessons that I think are especially important:

  • Work hard and work smart. Hard work pays off, but smart work pays better. There is a reason why we were born with both muscles and a brain. Use everything you've got.
  • Be enthusiastic. If you aren't getting excited about hitting the pavement every day, it will show. There is no off switch on a tiger. If your switch is off more than on, it's time to examine what's making you less than motivated. Is it the job itself? Find something to love about it, or find a different line of work.
  • Work on YOU. I'm a big believer in lifelong learning. I've said many times: You don't go to school once for a lifetime; you are in school all of your life. Read self-help books and business journals. Join your industry trade group. Take a night class. There are many ways to learn new skills and sharpen existing ones. Grow. Stretch. Transform yourself.
  • Be a good communicator. Writing is part of nearly every job, even if we're just talking about emails. Many people are terrified at the thought of speaking in public, but I have found that good public speakers are better able to sell their ideas and think on their feet. Take a public speaking class or join Toastmasters ... you will never regret it.
  • Follow through. Every sales person knows that following through after the order is written is what earns customer loyalty. This trait goes beyond sales though. It can include checking to see how the product is working, fixing problems or listening to ideas for improvement.
  • Prepare for adversity. It is a constant in this world, and none of us is immune to it. Adversity can be the precursor to wonderful change. I've dealt with my share of ups and downs, and I'd have to say the tough times have not only made me smarter, they've made me stronger.
  • Be resourceful. One of the traits that I really admire in people is being resourceful—using your brain to think outside the box and get the information you need or the project accomplished. Resourcefulness is a real asset for anyone trying to get the edge over the competition, whether it's finding a job, keeping a job, making customers happy or landing a new account.
  • Be observant. We have two eyes and two ears, but only one mouth, which shows we should see and observe and listen twice as much as we speak. I try to notice everything about people I meet. My antenna is always up for their hobbies/interests, likes/dislikes and any personal information about that individual that can improve our relationship.
  • Dress appropriately. With so many work environments going casual over the last several years, many people have taken their attire to extremes. Appearance is still important, especially when you are out making calls on customers or meeting with clients in your shop.
  • Don't be arrogant. One of the deadliest of all human failings is arrogance. It is the easiest to rationalize and the hardest to recognize in ourselves. Don't confuse this type of arrogance with the confidence that you find in all true champions—be it in sports, business or life.
  • Don't be negative or hang around with negative people. A negative person brings you down. Negative people see the difficulty in every opportunity, while a positive person sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
  • Be prepared. Always do your homework. It takes a lot of unspectacular preparation to produce spectacular results.

Mackay's Moral: Keep an open mind. Your first job may not be your dream job, but it doesn't have to be a nightmare.
Reprinted with permission from nationally syndicated columnist Harvey MacKay, author of the New York Times #1 bestseller "Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive." Visit his site at


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