How to become the “go-to” person for important projects

We were once limited by our existing skill set. We were locked into our speciality. If you were trained in preparing budget reports, you prepared budget reports. If you were really good at writing copy, you wrote copy. If you were a project manager, you managed projects.

There was very little room to move outside of our sphere of knowledge and skill. We were like cogs in a machine and that’s all that organisations expected of us.

But, things have changed. Organisations now need and expect people to be flexible and have a broader range of skills. Those who are able to contribute in diverse ways to important projects are valued more than anyone else.

This is great news for you and I because we now have more opportunities to make a meaningful contribution that helps our organisation grow, helps us get ahead and allows us to do interesting work outside of our existing skill set.

So how do we become the type of person who can do almost anything when in reality, we are in fact limited in many ways by our existing skill set? Answering that question could be the topic of an entire book, but just quickly, here’s one strategy.

Almost anything you need to know can be learned quickly online and Google is your secret weapon. You can learn the basics of almost anything with a Google search and some time spent reading, studying diagrams, listening to audio and watching video.

This is not to pay any disrespect to people who are actually experts. It’s just to say that a lack of access to specialised skills need no longer hold back a project in the short term; and that thanks to technology and the plethora of free resources online, we now have the opportunity to contribute in bigger and more exciting ways than before.

Here’s an example.

Let’s say your boss asks you to develop a draft communications plan for a project you’re working on, but you’ve never done one before. Maybe you’ve never even seen a communications plan.

No problem. You don’t have to be an exert to put together a good quality communications plan. You just need to Google it.

Search terms: communications plan; how to develop a communications plan; communications plan template.

Spend a couple of hours reading articles, looking at images, listening to audio and watching YouTube videos and then download and adapt the best template you can find. Now you know enough to get started and have the tools to develop a draft communications plan.

You can take this approach with almost anything: project plan, risk assessment, staff engagement survey, consumer insight research, lead indicators for an impact framework – these are all examples of tasks I’ve been asked to do at different times in my career that I had no idea how to do in the moment, but instead of saying “no, I don’t know how”, I said “sure, let me look into it”.

Finally, and this is really important, don’t pretend you’re an expert. Be confident in your ability to figure things out, but don’t say yes to things that are clearly way above your head and don’t submit something that is of poor quality. Poor quality work is a career killer.

I’ve always felt like I could take on any task, but I would always ensure my boss knew that whatever I was handing them was my first attempt and that it should be treated as a starting point. Managing expectations is key.

If she thought it was good work, great! If she thought it needed more work or required a specialist to take it further, great! Either way I contributed, solved a problem for my boss in the short term, got the ball rolling and showed the people I work with that I am someone who is talented and can be trusted to get shit done. At the end of the day, this is what managers really want: people who can get shit done!

You and I are no longer held back by our existing skill set, and the more we dive in and do the work despite our limitations, the more valuable we are to almost any project in almost any organisation.


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Photo Credit:

rawpixel.com

Stop Being So Inclusive

Management has experienced a strong shift in recent decades toward empowering individuals and teams to lead and problem solve. Like any important change, there’s a danger of going too far.

Don’t get me wrong. As a manager I do all I can to empower my people to lead and problem solve. But, there also comes a time when as managers, we need to make a decision, make a call, develop the plan, and at times, even go against the collective wisdom of the team.

The new management paradigm can be used as an excuse by indecisive managers to rely too heavily on their team, and even blame them when things don’t turn out as planned.

Please, empower your teams. Trust your individual leaders. But don’t think that’s all there is to management and leadership. It’s also your job to protect your team and make decisions that are in everyone’s best interests.



 

3 Epic Time Management Techniques for New Freelancers

Freelancing is a tough business. Don’t get me wrong, escaping restrictive office hours and horrible bosses and embracing the creative freedom that comes with doing what you love and are truly good at makes it all worthwhile. But, at the end of the day, it’s still work and tough work at that.

As a freelancer you have to be an all-rounder. Marketing, business planning, accounting, sales, networking and then after all that, there’s the actual work of creating and delivering the product or service that brings in revenue. With these pressures and competing priorities, good time management is essential.

Here are my top 3 most epic time management techniques for new freelancers. And since you don’t have the time to sit back with a cuppa and read an essay on the subject, I’ll keep them brief.

Good luck and go get’m!

1. Find your rhythm

You’ve probably read the books and articles online about the ‘8 most important things you must do before 8am’ or how the early bird gets the worm so you must wake up at 5am everyday or your projects will fail. All bad advice, at least for some, possibly most.

The time in the day that you’re most productive will depend on your biology and lifestyle, not someone else’s prescription. Some people are early birds and others are night owls. As a freelancer you’re not obliged to work when people tell you to, so experiment with working during different times of the day and night and find a rhythm that’s most productive for you personally.

2. Schedule everything

Your to-do list and your calendar are your biggest allies in the battle against time.

Start by adopting a system for note-taking and to-do lists. I use Asana for project and task management online and the Bullet Journal system in my trusty Moleskine for being organised moment to moment.

Once your tasks are listed and laid out front of you, prioritise what’s most important, estimate how long each task or batch of tasks will take to complete and schedule them in your calendar. Now, you’ll know where you should be, what you should be working on and how long it will take at any given time throughout your day.

Be sure to keep some time aside through your day for ad-hoc jobs that pop up.

3. Batch your work into pomodoros

The pomodoro is a technique used to complete focused work or batched tasks during specific blocks of time. There are a few different iterations of the technique, but I do it like this.

Know what you want to achieve, set your timer for 23 minutes and go. When the alarm goes off set your timer again for 7 minutes and take a break. Repeat this cycle 3 times and on the third take a 20-30 minute break. Repeat throughout your day.

4. (BONUS TIP) Use Time Management Software

Working alone is tough and it’s easy to get distracted. Email, Social Media, that great match-up on ESPN can all get in the way and before you know it you’ve fallen short of your goals and made zero progress on your important projects.

Using a time management software can help you stay focused and productive. Time management software tracks the time you spend on each task and alerts you when you’re wasting time on unproductive tasks. Click here to find a great little article from Forbes.com with a few of the best options.

*   *   *

Time management is an essential skill for successful freelancers. Whenever you feel like you don’t have enough hours in a day, come back to these techniques and, remember, as H. Jackson Brown Jr, Author of the New York Times best selling “Life’s Little Instruction Book” said:

“…You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” 

 


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Why you should stop worrying about being a procrastinator

I’ve struggled with procrastination my whole life. When I was young, I wasn’t called a procrastinator, I was called lazy. I even referred to myself as lazy.

I recently had a realisation that I think all so-called ‘procrastinators’ should have. One that’s changed the way I look at my work and the way I do it, my behaviours and my output.

As it turns out, I’m not a procrastinator in the negative sense of the word, I’m just intuitively more productive than non-procrastinators. I don’t mean for that to sound self-righteous. Let me explain.

In 1955 The Economist published an article written by Cyril Northcote Parkinson about his experience and observations of the British public service.

These observations included that the public service had a tendency to grow, year on year, not in response to there being more and more work to be done, but because of the availability to resources to grow it.

He also noted that bureaucrats liked to create non-essential work for one another and expand their teams so they would be in the company of more allies than enemies.

Welcome to Parkinson’s Law

Parkinson’s observations have come to be known as Parkinson’s Law, which over time and within the productivity realm looks and sounds like this:

“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

Essentially, this means that demand upon a resource tends to expand to match the supply of the resource. The reverse is never true. No matter which way you look at it or say it, this law gives incredible power to procrastinators.

Are we procrastinators lazy? Or, as I now like to believe, do we just intuitively know that our efforts to complete a task well before its deadline are wasted? That my efforts will be much greater and the time spent on a task will be much longer if I start a task now, compared to if I start it later.

And, that no matter when I start, the task will inevitably get done, but that by starting it later I’m doing it more efficiently.

The point

Please, stop worrying about being a procrastinator. At least just sometimes. If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute to do.



How to make a dent and have a successful career in the new era of work

The days of ‘cog-in-the-machine’ employment is coming to an end. As the information economy grows and develops, people who can do more than shift a lever or press a button on a production line are more important than ever.

But, what is it exactly that we need people, in this new era of work, to do? And, how can we create a culture and environment that facilitates and supports their work and produces the results today’s businesses need?

I won’t bore you with a long winded, wanky, geo-politico-eco-historical exploration of the needs of modern businesses. If you’re reading this I’m sure you already have some ideas.

I will instead state, quite simply, this:

We need leaders who can work collaboratively and creatively to solve complex problems.

I’ll say that again. Today’s organisations need leaders who can work collaboratively and creatively to solve complex problems. And, herein lies our dilemma.

The way we run organisations and the way we manage people does not support or create the right environment for this type of person, let alone a whole team of them, to operate with the autonomy or freedom required to be effective.

So what can you do? How can you become the type of person we need to work and manage in a modern organisation?

Start here:

Do something you enjoy

You are likely to spend more time working throughout your lifetime than doing any other activity. You may as well spend it doing something you’re good at and love doing.

Universities and colleges offer more degrees than at any other time. Online courses are easily accessible and many are free or cheap. There’s no reason to settle for a career doing something boring or that you feel indifferent about.

There are also more opportunities than at any time in our history to start your own business and be successful. Don’t limit yourself to the rat race. A credit card with a few hundred dollors and a good idea is all you need to start an independent business with a good chance of being successful if you do it right.

Work toward something you care about

There is plenty of evidence that shows that when we are alienated from the outcomes of our work, we become unhappy. There is also plenty of research that shows that when we work towards a high level goal in an area we care about, we become happier. I’ll let you do the math.

Lead from behind

You will work for morons, idiots, know-it-alls, know-nothings and lazy jerks for the majority of your career. Don’t let them stop you. Don’t let them kill your spirit. Your boss will micro-manage, get in the way and just generally slow progress on a regular basis. Your job is to convince them that they have more to gain by leaving you alone to do your work.

Create and support the right environment

If you’re a manager: hire the right people with the right skills, set the goals and the strategy, support them, give them the time and materials they need and then, get out of the way.

*   *   *

Today’s organisations need leaders who can work collaboratively and creatively to solve complex problems. Be that person. Be that type of leader. Don’t settle for a generic, uninspired career. You’ll be happier and more successful for it.


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How to manage your energy, instead of your time

In the early pages of their book The Power of Full Engagement, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz share a turning point in the trajectory of their business working with world class athletes.

After years of helping athletes perform consistently at a high level under competitive pressure, Jim and Tony were invited by a number of organisations (including hospital emergency wards and the FBI) to help improve staff performance and engagement. It was while working with these organisations that they discovered, and I quote:

“The performance demands that most people face in their everyday work environments dwarf those of any professional athlete…”

Wow, right? The reason, they say, is that athletes spend the majority of their time in either training or active recovery and only a short amount of time actually performing.

The everyday worker on the other hand spends very little time training and even less in active recovery, yet are expected to perform at a consistently high level 8-12 hours per day, 5-6 days per week.

These expectations put a lot of stress on the mind and the body and, as numerous studies now show, have a negative impact on productivity, quality of work produced and overall work engagement. Worst of all, our addiction to overworking is rapidly degrading our physical and mental health.

It’s easy to feel like we can’t take a break from the things we’re working on or from the place where we work. The excuses are many and easy to find. We already don’t have enough hours in a day.

The work is too important or the project won’t progress without us. The office will fall apart and the world will end if we’re not around to fix every problem. We all like to believe we’re indispensable. As though the office and the people in it just can’t live without us.

Life gets easier when we realise that we’re kidding ourselves. No one is indispensable and we’re doing ourselves and the cause or project we’re working on a disservice by working through burnout. Just think about every job you’ve quit and moved on from. The project, the team, the organisation you left behind are doing just fine without you.

This isn’t to say that you’re not valuable or making an important contribution. After all, you wouldn’t still be employed if you didn’t. But, so can so many others. And, don’t take this personally, but you’re not the only one who can manage a crisis, progress your project or deal with clients and stakeholders.

You’re not the only one who has something to contribute. Who can add value.

The longer you put off having a break, the closer to burnout you get, the less value you add to the cause or project you’re working on and the sicker you become. You, your mind and your body are not designed to withstand the long hours and six day weeks you’re working. You need active recovery to stay healthy and perform at your best.

Taking a break is not a sign of weakness. It’s a matter of self-awareness and it will make you stronger. It’s not just important, it’s essential. Especially if you want to build a strong, enduring career and a happy, healthy life.

So, here’s what I want you to do:

1. Take breaks throughout your workday. 

10-15 minutes here and there can make a huge difference. Go for a walk, make a cup of tea, read the news (in an actual newspaper, not online). Do whatever it takes for you to let go and recover from the intense focus you’ve just given to whatever task you’ve been working on.

To help me take more breaks, I’ve been experimenting with the pomodoro technique. Learn more here.

2. Go on a holiday at least once a year.

And I’m not talking about going back to your home town to visit family. I’m talking about an actual holiday. Get out of the city. Go overseas. Go to the beach, a concert or on a cruise. Scuba-dive, bungie jump or sit for days in a shack in the country side reading great books.

Give yourself the gift of a break from your everyday life. Get away from it all, even for just a week. You’ll be better for it.

3. Always be in holiday planning mode.

Even if you only take one vacation a year, know when it will be, where you will go, who you’ll be with and what you will do. Knowing you’ve got some reprieve coming can help you push through mental blocks and minor crises of motivation.

In the lead up to your vacation, organise your work affairs so that you can forget about work as much as possible. If you can help it, don’t take work with you and don’t check emails.

4. If you’re a manager, make sure your team members are getting the breaks they need.

Encourage them to step away from their desk several times per day. Let them go home early once a month and don’t dock their pay. Actively encourage them to take holidays.

While they’re on holidays do not, under any circumstances call them. Reassure them that everything will be taken care of while they’re away. Not because you don’t need them, but because you need them to be at their best.

Working through burnout serves no one

Especially not ourselves. At the end of the day, we can only give as much as we have. Once that’s depleted our contribution loses its value. Take breaks throughout the day. Plan and go on holidays. Make sure your team are well rested.



 

What Michael Jordan can teach you about career success

In 2003, two of the greatest ever to play the game of basketball faced off in the NBA Allstar Game: Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. The old school and the new school battled in what would, in hindsight, become a passing of the crown from one king to the next.

At one point in the game, hidden amongst all the jawing and trash talk, Jordan dropped a knowledge bomb on Bryant, whose brash cockiness and sense of entitlement often rubbed people the wrong way.

The conversation, about a foul-call that went against Bryant and in Jordan’s favour, went something like this:

Jordan: “Hey. That’s a foul all day long.”

Bryant:“Oh, I know you ain’t talking! I know you ain’t talking.”

Jordan:“Hey you only got three man, I got six. I’m gonna get that foul. You only got three man.”

Bryant: “You’re right. I can’t say nothing to that. I can’t say nothing. I’m gonna shut up and take it.”

And in that one exchange, you can learn almost everything you need to know about getting ahead in your career and in business.

You want the title? The position? The trust and admiration of your peers? You want to be promoted? You want your business to be recognised as a leader?

Then put in the time and do the work.

Jordan got calls from the referees because he earned them. Not in that moment. But in the previous decade-plus of blood, sweat and tears in the gym and on the basketball court.

Jordan was respected so much for his work ethic and his achievements that when a referee’s call was a 50/50 and could go either way, he got those calls. Every time.

Do the time. Do the work. Strive for excellence. This is how you achieve greatness. This is how you get those calls at work, in your career and in business.

Be consistent, put in the hard work and in time, recognition and success will come.



Photo credit: LA Times

What is leadership?

Leadership is hard to pin down

Leadership means something different to everyone. Leadership is fluid. Leadership is a social construct. Leadership is what it needs to be at the time. Leadership is the execution of a set of values. Leadership has lots of different moving parts.

Though I’ve tried, I can’t find a way to define leadership. It’s too big. It’s too grey. But, I think it’s an important thing to do because if there’s one thing the world needs it’s more leaders and how do we develop leaders if we can’t define what leadership is.

A few years ago I learned a couple of neat little tricks for defining the seemingly undefinable from one of my mentors. First, he said, and I’m paraphrasing years of teaching and discussion here, that describing what something looks like can be more valuable than defining it.

Second, he said that when defining a thing is too difficult, try defining what that thing is not and what it is becomes clearer.

In this post, I’ll attempt to do both of those two things as a way of trying to define leadership.

Leadership is not…

Leadership is not being a boss.

Leadership is not being a manager.

Leadership is not being in charge.

Leadership is not being an authority.

Leadership is not a title or a position.

Leadership is not what most people think it is.

 

So much of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to work. — Peter Drucker

 

Using this logic, I suppose we could also try to define a leader by what they don’t do.

A leader doesn’t…

A leader doesn’t panic.

A leader doesn’t yell.

A leader doesn’t get angry.

A leader doesn’t act out of spite.

A leader doesn’t act in self interest.

A leader doesn’t hide information.

A leader doesn’t give orders.

A leader doesn’t motivate.

A leader doesn’t rely on old ways.

A leader doesn’t settle.

 

He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander. — Aristotle

 

Now that we know what a leader is not, and what a leader does not do, we can describe what a leader is and what a leader does do ie. what leadership looks like.

Leaders are…

Leaders are compassionate.

Leaders are tough.

Leaders overcome fear for the greater good.

Leaders understand people and psychology.

Leaders understand human relationships and group dynamics.

Leaders have high levels of energy.

Leaders have humility.

Leaders have integrity.

Leaders are accountable.

 

Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm. — Publilius Syrus

 

Leaders are respectful.

Leaders value diversity.

Leaders obsess over mastery.

Leaders are honest.

Leaders are collaborative.

Leaders are people focussed.

 

No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it. — Andrew Carnegie

A leader…

A leader supports and guides people.

A leader sees the big picture.

A leader get’s their hands dirty.

A leader communicates effectively.

A leader is creative.

A leader shares power.

A leader uses logic and gut instinct at the same time.

A leader focusses on solutions.

A leader is always learning.

A leader solves problems.

A leader makes other people better.

 

As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others. — Bill Gates

 

A leader thinks laterally.

A leader listens more than they talk.

A leader gives frank and fearless advice.

A leader is approachable.

A leader asks for forgiveness, not permission.

A leader eliminates the need for small decisions.

A leader makes the big decisions.

A leader takes risks.

A leader takes the bull by the horns.

A leader adapts and overcomes.

A leader finds new and better ways.

A leader strives for excellence, always.

A leader is a good follower.

A leader sets priorities.

A leader connects the dots.

A leader is consistent.

A leader values results rather than process.

A leader uses data, research and best practice.

A leader challenges data, research and best practice.

A leader takes criticism.

A leader creates a vision.

A leader admits when they are wrong.

A leader mentors.

A leader performs at a high level.

A leader performs consistently at a high level.

A leader builds teams.

A leader builds culture.

A leader creates change.

A leader inspires action.

A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit. — John Maxwell

 

Finally and critically, I believe a leader produces two very important outcomes.

A leader creates impact.

A leader creates more leaders.

 

A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent. — Douglas MacArthur

 

Leadership is hard to pin down. Leadership means something different to everyone. Leadership is fluid. Leadership is a social construct. Leadership is what it needs to be at the time. Leadership is the execution of a set of values. Leadership has lots of different moving parts.

Leadership is hard to define, but it’s not impossible to describe what it looks like.

 

A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves. — Lao Tzu

 



The 140 Best Articles on Medium in 2015

I joined Medium in January of 2015 and since then I’ve really enjoyed using it as a window to the world.

Yes, I write on Medium too, but I value the platform most as a content curator, sorting well-written, useful and inspiring articles according to my interests.

As 2015 came to an end and I contemplated what 2016 might look like, I thought it might be fun to revisit the best articles Medium had to offer in the past year.

So, without further-ado, here’s a list of every Medium article I ‘Recommended’ in 2015. Enjoy.

The 140 Best Articles on Medium in 2015:

  1. How to Design a Business: 4 Lessons from Startups by Misa Misono
  2. My Home Your Hoffice by Bill Barol
  3. The Truth About The Right Time by Sean Smith
  4. How I built a startup while travelling to 20 countries by Jay Meistrich
  5. The 10 Crucial Skills They Won’t Teach You At School (And How To Learn Them Anyway) by UnCollege
  6. The Age of the Introvert Entrepreneur by Gary Vaynerchuk
  7. Millennials and the leadership gap by Stowe Boyd
  8. Blogging on Medium by Michael Sippey
  9. 300+ Awesome Free Things for Entrepreneurs and Startups by Ali Messe
  10. Why I Just Fucking Did It by Ali Messe
  11. 5 Unusual, Slightly Risky Hacks for Impressing Your Boss by Ryan Holmes
  12. Why You Should Declare Email Bankruptcy by Ryan Holmes
  13. How To Profit From Your Mistakes by Ryan Wiggins
  14. A world without advice by Paul Jarvis
  15. Notes on Company Culture by Eamon Leonard
  16. To be a great leader, rethink your default behaviours by Deirdre Cerminaro
  17. How to have more creative conversations by Invision
  18. Where to work: a manifesto by Karolina Szczur
  19. The Watch is Here: Available $15.94 by Vikram Babu
  20. The Key to Overcoming Imposter Syndrome by Violeta
  21. My 7-day cycle for generating content that gets read & shared by 30,000+ people/week by Paul Jarvis
  22. The complete and logical guide to winning at your own life in 19 super difficult steps by Paul Jarvis
  23. No Dickheads! A Guide To Building Happy, Healthy, And Creative Teamsby rhymes
  24. My Top11 essential tools I could not live without by Tobias van Schneider
  25. 19 of the Best Marketing Tools for Startups & Entrepreneurs by Joe Murfin
  26. Optimize Your Team for Impact over Speed by Eric Ma
  27. Golden Rule of Managing Up by Michael Karnjanaprakorn
  28. 1 Reason Why You Should Become a Fraud by CamMi Pham
  29. 7 Things You Need to Stop Doing to Be More Productive, Backed by Science by CamMi Pham
  30. “Rules of Business” by Stewart Butterfield
  31. Can’t Kick a Bad Habit? You’re Probably Doing It Wrong by Nir Eyal
  32. The new manager’s guide to schedule calls & appointments by Ron Bronson
  33. Please stop telling me to be happy by Jennie Rose Halperin
  34. How To Do Work by Nate Green
  35. How I Used Gary Vaynerchuk’s Advice To Make $5,000 In 20 Minutes byJustin Brooke
  36. (Maybe) don’t quit your job and go freelance by Sabrina Smelko
  37. What’s Stopping Us From Changing Faster? by Reuven Gorsht
  38. I’m Using These 3 Simple Steps To Actually Stick with Good Habits byJames Clear
  39. How I’ve Been More Productive Working Remotely From Home by Jamie Syke
  40. The 20 Best Lessons from Social Psychology by Zach Hamed
  41. Design Your Company To Empower Employees by Matt Hoffman
  42. Willpower is Finite by Proof
  43. How to Eliminate Procrastination (Surprising Strategy One Man Used) byJames Clear
  44. Papas, please et your babies grow up to be princesses by Sara Chipps
  45. How Long Does it Actually Take to Form a New Habit? (Backed by Science) by James Clear
  46. BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT: IMPROVE HOW YOU PERFORM DAILY ROUTINE TASKS by Brandon Schaefer
  47. Two Things Every Manager Needs to Do to Keep Their Employees Motivated by Gary Vaynerchuk
  48. 60 Tips for a Stunningly Great Life by Robin Sharma
  49. The Truth About Blogging by Ali Mese
  50. Don’t be an Entrepreneur by Michael Tandarich
  51. How I Learned to Get a Lot Done Without Being Busy by Isaac Morehouse
  52. I’ve Been Thinking by Brian Hertzog
  53. I’ve got some bad news about content writers by Nandini Jammi
  54. Content writers need some goddamn standards by Nandini Jammi
  55. What I Learned From Writing Over 800,000 Words by Jason Zook
  56. Giving Feedback by Dev
  57. Increasing Productivity By Habit: A Brief On Planning Our Days byJourdan Bul-lalayao
  58. The 1% Career Advice That’s Actually Useful by Chandra Kalle
  59. Easy Steps to Improve Company Culture by Zac Nielson
  60. 22 Things Digital Nomads Need to Pack While Traveling the World byAdil Gherib
  61. 8 Things Every Person Should Do Before 8 A.M by Benjamin Hardy
  62. Why a morning routine can save your startup by Richard Gong
  63. What I Learned When I Gave Up the ‘9 to 5’ by Jacob Laukaitis
  64. I sat down with a millionaire who operates 10 businesses while sailing around the world with his family by Dave Schools
  65. Don’t Fuck Up the Culture by Brian Chesky
  66. Are you someone that you’d want to pay attention to? by Paul Jarvis
  67. When You Shouldn’t Follow Your Heart by Ryan Holmes
  68. Building the Next Box by Nicholas Hagar
  69. 5 Essential Marketing Ingredients To Make You A Better Writer by Jim Woods
  70. How I went from underemployed waitress to the top 1% of millennials in 3 months by Lauren Holliday
  71. How I became the master of my inbox by Ryan Wiggins
  72. Things I’ve quit doing at my desk by Justin Jackson
  73. The full-stack employee by Chris Messina
  74. Project Management Basics by Baris Karaman
  75. How to Become Popular on Medium: Be the first one there by Vikram Babu
  76. Leadership, Culture and the Art of Caring About the Little Things by Alf Rehin
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What do you want your legacy to be?: two steps to becoming indispensable

When you move on from your current job, what kind of legacy do you want to leave behind? It’s a tough question to answer, likely because you’ve never really thought about it before. You should though. And, here’s why.

So many of us make the mistake of letting our careers happen to us, rather than being proactive and making it happen for us. We look around at the successful people in our office and wrongly assume that they’re successful by chance, or that success comes with just putting in the time.

Whether you’re dedicated to a life-long career in the same company, moving from organisation to organisation trying to make a difference in something you care about or creating your own path solving problems as an entrepreneur, nothing comes easy and you’ll never reach your potential without a decent amount of forethought and effort.

So what can you do to give yourself the best chance of reaching your potential and being successful? Think about this.

In his book “Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?”, Seth Godin makes the observation that bosses lie about what they want in an employee. They say they want someone who will be on time. Who will follow instruction. Someone who comes in and does their job and doesn’t make any trouble.

So, why is it that the people who follow these rules aren’t getting the promotions? Or more poignantly, why is it that the people getting promoted, the big stars of the show, aren’t the ones following these rules?

“The world no longer fairly compensates people who are cogs in a giant machine” – Seth Godin

It’s because what she really wants is someone who can think for them-self. Who sees possibilities and makes them happen. Who creates. Who connects the dots. Who sets the shit on fire (what ever that means).

She wants someone remarkable – who is worth remarking about. Someone who is exceptional – who is the exception. Someone who disrupts, creates, collaborates, leads et cetera. Being even one of these things would leave a great legacy.

So, how do you become more remarkable? Exceptional? How do you become indispensable?

First, follow these two steps:

  1. Answer this question: If your organisation wanted to replace you with someone far better at your job than you, what would they look for?
  2. Become the answer. Read, learn, work hard and become the person who is far better at your job than you currently are.

Then, do all of these things:

  • Become a connector. Make a habit out of introducing people who will get value from each other both inside and outside your organisation.
  • Pick one new person every week and buy them a coffee. Sit with them. Drink coffee together. Don’t talk about work. Ask lots of questions. Listen.
  • Write something inspiring for your company blog and submit it to be published. It will likely draw the attention of your superiors, so make sure it’s good.
  • Think of one new, properly thought-out idea every month, that solves a real problem faced by your organisation and tell your boss about it. Be ready to produce a brief outline and project plan and make sure your idea has the potential to make a real impact, like increase productivity or save money. It’s not that hard, it’s only twelve ideas a year.
  • Grab with both hands and all your strength every learning opportunity you find.

Go!