There are many real-life stories of people going from the mail room to the executive suite. Though there are plenty of people who start in the simplest of jobs, through patience and hard work, they rise to the top — sometimes quickly.
Related: 11 Ways to Earn Respect at Work
Take Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti, for example. While he may run one of the fastest growing casual dining restaurants in the United States, he began his professional career working at a hot dog cart.
The buzzy brand isn’t the only company with a success story, though. Here’s a true story to really inspire you. My former agency, Blue Fountain Media, grew from a website design company to a midsize digital marketing agency. The leader of the marketing department started out as an intern.
He came on board and ensured that I would trust him by proving he was reliable, loved what he did, was easy to work with and would help his teammates — and he did it all in a very short period of time.
Ultimately, the best way to move up the professional ladder is to show people that you’re up to the task, whatever that might be. When people see they can rely on you, and you get things done when you’re supposed to, they will continue to lean on you more and more, making you indispensable (or darn close to it).
So, to help you go from the faithful intern or trusty mail room organizer to a corner office executive a bit faster, here are some tips that will accelerate the entire process.
Have a professional attitude at work.
Starting out your first job or internship with a positive mindset is arguably the soundest piece of advice anyone can receive, regardless of her industry or role. Research suggests that a positive mindset increases the opportunity for positive results, both professionally and personally.
Barbara Fredrickson, a social psychologist and researcher in human emotions, sees a positive mindset as important as the food we eat (really).
“I think of positive emotions as nutrients. In the same way that we need to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables to be healthy, we need a variety of positive emotions in our daily experience to help us become more resourceful versions of ourselves,” Fredrickson told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Radio National.
The Blue Fountain Media employee I mentioned above exhibited several qualities that made him a great professional fit:
- He would come to work early in the morning, and he would listen throughout the day to learn.
- He wouldn’t gossip.
- He would read about the industry a lot.
- He was good-natured and very respectful to everyone in the office.
- He never complained and had a very professional manner.
These very basic qualities are what managers want to see in each and every employee.
Embrace the hard work, day in and day out.
There are usually two sides to this argument. One, you work “smarter” and optimize your time to get more work done using principles like the 80/20 rule, or tactics deployed through strategies used in books like Tim Ferriss’s Four Hour Work Week. Two, you work more hours. There’s no right answer, but it’s important to realize that in both cases you’re going to have to work hard.
Getting comfortable with hard work isn’t an exact science, and the way in which you motivate yourself to put in the tough hours, day in and day out, is an individual preference. However, it’s crucial to remind yourself that no matter what talent you have, or what talent other professionals have that you don’t, hard work and consistency will always win in the long run.
Learn about the industry you’re in.
Instead of wasting yet another break scrolling through Instagram or playing whatever mobile game of the moment is buzzy, spend at least 15 minutes a day actually learning new things about the industry you’re in. Perhaps it’s a YouTube video on social media marketing. Maybe it’s an article on artificial intelligence. Regardless, if you want to grow in your career, it’s on you to put in the effort to know everything you can possibly know.
Another way to learn more about your industry is to surround yourself with experts or, better yet, find a mentor. Making the effort to build relationships early in your career can have incredibly positive implications for you going forward.
Don’t know anyone outside of work or in your new office that you think can help you? This is perfect opportunity to seek out a mentor or start networking like a social butterfly.
Don‘t shy away from promoting yourself and your work.
It’s important to understand the importance of self-promotion and the role it plays in your career in the long-term. Social media is a great place to start when considering your approach to promoting your personal brand. Thanks to the reach and scope of social networks, you now have the ability to build your social profile way beyond the city or town that you’re based in.
Don’t be afraid to use your accomplishments and skills as leverage to promote your own brand and personality across these networks — at the end of the day that is, 1. what they’re there for, and 2. a free way for you to learn and grow rapidly within your industry.
Additionally, you should practice the little conversational techniques that are often overlooked. Replacing “oh, it’s nothing special, really,” with “I’m quite proud of this project actually — we worked hard to go above and beyond what the client expected, and we achieved that,” can go a long way when discussing your career highlights or experience. If you’re going to put in the hard work, you should be able to promote the hard-earned results.
Share your goals with your manager.
Don’t be afraid to voice your desires to your mentor or manager. After all, it’s your career, and the sad truth is that sometimes you have to just ask for what you want.
However, the key here is to know when it’s appropriate to ask for those things. Two weeks after you start a new job, for example, is not the time to boldly state that you’d like to score a promotion, or lock down an annual raise. Instead, take the time to let your work speak for itself. Let’s let our Blue Fountain Media example do the talking.
During his internship, there were several opportunities he took advantage of that proved himself to me, but the most significant was when a lead called in, and he answered the call and pitched the company exactly as I would have pitched them. I overhead him, and immediately promoted him from an intern to a junior full-time position.
How can you achieve this? Stay put for several months and prove yourself to your new colleagues and your manager(s), then let them know that you’re hoping to grow with the company, and the direction and ideal timeline you’d like to see that growth achieved. Before that, just do excellent work. Trust me, they’ll notice.
Learn to manage your own time effectively.
Managing yourself is, in many ways, the first thing you have to learn before you can start making big strides in your professional career. If you’re going to be late for meetings, miss deadlines or require hand-holding, you’re going to struggle to rise above the status of coffee fetcher. Learning how to manage your own time is not just a professional necessity, it’s a personal favor you can do yourself.
The Blue Fountain Media employee was always early for work, and spent his spare time (and even his weekends!) learning everything he could about marketing — which, as I discussed above, is very important. Because of that, he rose very quickly within the company because he made himself extremely valuable.
There’s another crucial point to make in relation to time: Be patient. As I mentioned at the start of this article, your career is going to span over the next four decades (give or take). Expecting promotions and raises to regularly arrive on your desk is a naive mistake to make. If you find yourself getting impatient or yearning for more, take a step back, remember what you’ve achieved to date and keep in mind where you want to be in 10, 20 or 30 years from now.
All in all, the “secret sauce” to finding accelerated growth in your career is in the quality of work you produce. Take our Blue Fountain Media employee — within two years with the agency, he was making a six-figure salary. After over five years with Blue Fountain Media, he was leading marketing at a Fortune 500 company. His work ethic and behavior would be rewarded at any company, and I was lucky to have him.
At the end of the day, you just can’t beat keeping your chin up with your nose to the ground. Before you know it, you might have someone else fetching your coffee while you work in that office with a view.
Unilever Turns Up the Heat on Facebook & Google Over Tech’s ‘Unintended Consequences’
Unilever has issued a stern warning to digital platforms including Facebook, Google, and YouTube: do more to improve transparency and clean up the “swamp” of fake news, exploitative, and socially divisive content, or be cut off from its multi-billion dollar digital advertising budget.
CMO Keith Weed recently spoke at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s annual leadership meeting held in Palm Desert, Calif. CNBC quotes him as saying, “We need to redefine what is responsible business in the digital age because for all of the good the tech companies are doing, there’s some unintended consequences that now need addressing.”
Two of the most important consequences being referred to include the threatening of safety of users, especially young children, and loss of trust by consumers and companies at large.
While it’s unlikely that Unilever will turn its back on the two largest digital platforms, Weed’s words matter because of the sheer amount of ad budget Unilever holds across its portfolio brands. MediaPost reports that in 2017, the company spent approximately $9.8 billion on marketing and advertising, a quarter of which went to digital.
Beyond the public denouncements, Unilever is also working with IBM to develop a blockchain with which the company can more effectively reduce ad fraud via a record of what media is purchased and how it is delivered.
A separate MediaPost article shares YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki’s response to Weeds comments on Monday. In her own statement at Recode’s Code Media conference, she assured,
“We want to do the right set of things to build [Unilever’s] trust. They are building brands on YouTube, and we want to be sure that our brand is the right place to build their brand.”
Recent efforts we’ve seen in support of this include significant updates to its Creator Program policy. Further, in light of the recent Logan Paul controversy involving a video in which a suicide victim was filmed inside a Japanese forest, the company has suspended running ads on his channel, per Ad Age.
While brand safety is a concern on the minds of many marketers, Unilever’s public comments this week indicate that brands are viewing the issue with a much broader lens, and seriously questioning the role these platforms play in people’s everyday lives, beyond the world of advertising. In this important cultural moment, people are looking to brands and platforms to assume responsibility and be proactive to keep their spaces safe, trustworthy, and suitable for communities.
To further explore the overarching question of how technology, including digital platform giants, can be used to bring us closer together versus further apart, join us at SMWNYC April 24-27. Register today and save 20%.
Facebook’s Next Step in Building Community: $10M in Grants
Facebook has made several important announcements as of late the support its mission to create more “meaningful communities.” The latest? Investment in a newly announced Community Leadership program designed to support its community-building leaders through a variety of residency and fellowship opportunities that offer training, support, and funding.
Here’s how it will work: Facebook will name five “community leaders in residence” and provide up to $1 million each to fund their proposals, in addition to providing them with the opportunity to attend a customized leadership development training session.
Moreover, Facebook will select 100 individuals to join its fellowship program and receive up to $50,000 each for a “specific community initiative.” They’ll also participate in four in-person gatherings during which they will have the chance to meet and collaborate with other fellows.
Another key initiative in the works? Expanding Facebook’s “engineering team for community safety,” which is headquartered in London. In particular, the company hopes to double the number of employees focused on such efforts including detecting and stopping fake accounts, protecting people from harm (e.g harassment and scams), and making it easier to report content, by the end of 2018.
Further, Facebook outlined new tools for group admins, including page personalization options (e.g. color and the ability to pin announcements to the top of the page), the ability to create and share group rules; and more features to monitor Group Insights.
Outside of its Communities Summit, but along the theme of ensuring time on the platform is time well spent, the company also confirmed last week it was testing a downvote button that would allow users to provide feedback on comments in particular. The downvote button is being tested within a limited group of U.S. users for the time being.
This is not to be confused with a “dislike” button, but rather a more “lightweight way for people to provide a signal to Facebook that a comment is inappropriate, uncivil, or misleading”—this according to a Facebook spokesperson quoted in TechCrunch.
Here is what the button looks like in action:
As the screenshot depicts, the user will have the ability to select whether the post was found to be “offensive,” “misleading,” or “off topic,” the choices aimed to help guide Facebook’s course of action with respect to the particular piece of feedback.
Forbes adds that, the downvote option in its test mode only applies to public posts as opposed to Group posts or the Pages of public figures. It also doesn’t affect the ranking of the post and the number of downvotes a post gets won’t be publicly shared.
These initiatives by Facebook to reverse some of the negative perceptions of its role in society come at a critical time as brands and citizens alike are putting more and more pressure on the world’s leading tech platforms to course-correct their products for the safety of their users. Just this week, Unilever threatened to yank ad dollars from Facebook and Google due to the company’s growing dissatisfaction with their overall impact on society.
“We cannot have an environment where our consumers don’t trust what they see online,” stated Unilever CMO, Keith Weed, to the BBC.
Learn about Facebook’s increasingly complex role in society by joining SMWNYC April 24-27. The conference will offer multiple sessions designed to explore where brands and platforms fit into tech’s future in our world. Register today to secure your pass.
5 Ways Cryptocurrency Can Help Entrepreneurs in 2018
Cryptocurrency has revolutionized the way we transact value, invest our savings and raise capital with its decentralised digital cash system. Blockchain technology is a once-in-a-lifetime invention; never before in history have we been presented with such a breakthrough in financial technology. In 2018, entrepreneurs are well positioned to become early adopters of blockchain technology.
1. Raising capital
Cryptocurrency has disrupted the way early stage companies raise capital. With initial coin offerings, startups around the world can raise money quickly and cheaply from a wide pool of global investors. The valuation of a company is almost immediately reflected by the market, a process that has traditionally been challenging for early stage businesses. Shares are issued as tokens and tradable almost immediately, bringing large amounts of liquidity to the company.
This new approach to raising capital has changed the world and enabled the best technical talent to build their companies at high speed. In 2014, a teenager from Canada called Vitalik Buterin raised money for his startup, Ethereum, through an initial coin offering. He wanted to improve on Bitcoin’s blockchain and create a platform for people to build unstoppable applications. With just a whitepaper and a vision, he was able to successfully raise $18 million for his new blockchain, which was valued at over $100 billion as of January 2018.
2. Transacting value
Cryptocurrency enables us to transact value between peers without a centralized authority. It provides a cheaper, faster and more efficient alternative to traditional payment networks. As a company, accepting cryptocurrency payments is becoming increasingly efficient, saving on fees and bringing faster settlement. Soon, startups will no longer need to go through the long process of setting up a business bank account to receive and distribute funds. In 2014, Overstock.com became the first retailer to accept bitcoin, receiving over 800 orders worth $126,000 in bitcoin in the first 22 hours. It has since amassed a $403,000 portfolio of cryptocurrency.
3. Investing for the future
For entrepreneurs, cryptocurrency may be the investment opportunity of a lifetime. Never before in history have retail investors had investment access to high growth early stage companies. Traditionally, venture capital funds and private angel investors have held monopolies on access to investment in the world’s best technical talent. Cryptocurrency provides a gateway for anyone in the world to invest in the world’s most exciting technology, allowing retail investors to own a basket of high growth companies. For example, through the decentralized method of blockchain investment, teenager Erik Finnman was able to invest in Bitcoin in 2011, becoming a Bitcoin millionaire at age 18. These types of investment stories would not be possible with traditional private venture capital fundraising.
4. Developing on the blockchain
The blockchain offers powerful infrastructure for companies to run their technology and create entirely new business models in a trusted way without a centralized authority. Blockchain technology is already revolutionizing the way startups create value. The Ethereum platform allows companies to build unstoppable blockchain applications quickly and for free. One example of a company leveraging the Ethereum blockchain is OmiseGO, a payments company that is using blockchain to provide banking services for the world’s 2 billion unbanked population. Blockchain technology is a cost-efficient way of building decentralized applications that can scale to a global population.
5. Joining the blockchain community
The blockchain community offers access to some of the world’s best entrepreneurs, who are actively investing, advising and building upon the blockchain. Telegram, Facebook, WeChat, Slack and WhatsApp groups have proved popular in building communities of decentralized blockchain investors who can communicate with each other on a daily basis. Many large investments in early stage technology companies can be coordinated within minutes, a process that would traditionally take months in traditional venture capital. For example, in 2017, Brave’s Basic Attention Token sale sold out of its $35 million offering within 30 seconds. The blockchain community offers a strong sense of purpose with all members committed to a common goal of advancing blockchain technology to global adoption.
Cryptocurrency provides a platform for entrepreneurs to raise capital quickly, cheaply and efficiently. Entrepreneurs can transact value through the blockchain at high speed with limited setup costs and invest in high growth technology companies at an early stage. Platforms like Ethereum allow entrepreneurs to build decentralized applications to a global audience for free. The blockchain community offers access to some of the top entrepreneurs, engineers and investors in the world and in 2018, cryptocurrency will continue to provide a viable means for entrepreneurs to create value in the world.
7 Ways to Get Recruiters and Job Offers to Come to You
“You are your own brand, and you need to build that brand and promote it as much as possible. It is important that you start building your brand online, because this is where employers are going to be looking for potential employees,” suggests Dima Midon, an expert from TrafficBox. Use all of the online tools at your disposal, particularly LinkedIn, which is a professional network that allows you to really promote yourself as a professional, and someone who is an expert in your field. This is a great tool for job seekers. Make sure that you keep your profile up to date, especially when it comes to contact information, so when an employer searches you, they will be able to contact you if they are interested in learning more.
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