The No-BS Career Advice You Wish You Had 5 Years Ago

Luck is for amateurs. Create and share content, assign value to your time, and help others in your network even as you strive to improve yourself.
Guest Writer

Another day, another five emails. Here's one: “Tim, how do I find my passion?” And another: "Tim, how do I make money online?”

I’m no guru. I’ve failed more times than you’ve had hot showers. Not just in business, either -- in life, love and many pursuits of so-called passion. Whether you're an entrepreneur or make your career working for someone else, the building blocks are the same. For the most part, all these coaches and seminar speakers are used-car salespeople. They're designed to extract, upsell and con you into buying their “advice.” I'm going to give it to you for free.

Sometimes all we need is a kick in the butt so we can break out of this safe, predictable life we think we want with the white picket fence and that people mover we call a luxury minivan. Personally, I don’t care about the typical dream. I just want to be happy, travel, change the world and give back. Everything else is BS.

Enough with the preamble. Let’s get to the career advice you wish you had five years ago.

1. Kill 'em with niceness.

As the pin-up boy for personal development, I’ve met leaders in almost every field. You've seen them: People spend hours waiting to see them and then freeze when it's time to ask a question. These superstars don’t intimidate me; they inspire me to dig deep.

You know what I've learned from all these successful people? They kill you with niceness. They literally slap you over the head with niceness, and you can’t help loving them. They’re resilient, patient, compassionate and infectious.

I've been completely screwed over by people even as they kill me with niceness, and the funny thing is I don't see them as horrible people. Everyone wants to do business with nice people. They sit at the top of the sales boards because they realize they're selling themselves and not the specifications of their products. 

While everyone else uses smoke and mirrors to create influence, these people understand human nature and apply logic to win you over. We all love a nice person -- it's a schmuck we really hate.

Related: 6 Ways to Demonstrate Kindness in Business and the Rest of Your Life

2. Don't put the phone on the table.

If leave your phone face-up on the table during a meeting, there’s a good chance it will buzz and light up the entire time. You've just told the person in front of you two things: You're tied to a device and you neither value nor care about him or her.  

Your mobile phone doesn't really connect you to people. It causes you to be more disconnected. I know people who are easier to talk to via phone than in person. Your phone is not as crucial as you think it is. You don’t need to be on call. In fact, you need to be the opposite. You need to be present and free to think without distractions.

3. Pretend your time is worth $1,000 a minute.

Are you accepting everything that enters your calendar? Are you feeling bad when you decline a calendar invite? Don’t. Pretend your time is worth $1,000 a minute. It will make you cherish every moment of your day and keep mediocrity from entering your business life.

So many people want to waste your time because they aren't focused on their career goals or being of service. Wasting your time helps them forget about their own dire situations. Know what you want to achieve each day, and don’t let anything stop you. Once you’ve hit your goals, you can take it easy or have some friendly chats.

Related: Troubleshooting Your Life to Control Your Time

4. Be a thought leader via content.

You'll be left for dead if you’re not creating audio, written or video content for your ideal customers and business colleagues. Developing this content allows you to demonstrate (for free) the value that you can bring. You can get things off your chest and test out different theories. As your audience engages with your content, you'll get to hear stories and connect with people you could only dream of knowing.

The leaders whose careers you admire all are content creators. Next time you give a speech, record it. When you write a paper that helps your customers, share the information with your LinkedIn connections. When you go to an awesome event, share the three things you learned in a Facebook post. If you meet cool people, don't keep them to yourself. Record an Instagram story featuring that influencer and then share their top three tips.

Related: 5 Ways to Up Your Content-Marketing Game

"Your career success is not about you; it’s about those you serve."

Creating content has changed my career and taught me so much. It’s helped me understand what resonates with people and what I’m good at doing. Once you know this information, you can use it to compound your results in the field that aligns with your passion.

5. Who cares whether you're qualified?

Despite what people think, I know only the basics of the technology industry. Break through the hype, and you'll discover tech actually is dead simple. Here's how it works: 

•    Join or start a team of game-changers.

•    Build a product.

•    Acquire users via content or social-media marketing.

•    Test it with users.

•    Iterate.

•    Test again.

•    Launch and enable revenue.

•    Nurture customers into raving fans.

You’re never going to be truly qualified to do anything. Tell yourself you are. Act as if you know your stuff, continue learning, and you’ll be fine. Most of the people you'll meet throughout your career -- including CEOs -- don't have a clue. They pretend they do, and they believe it.

Related: How Steve Jobs Misled a Room Full of Tech Media and Changed the World

6. Your network is like a savings account.

I’m a freakishly weird saver. "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" taught me to pay myself first, so that’s what I do whenever I earn money. Your network operates a lot like a savings account.

In the beginning, the people you help might feel a bit like a burden. The more you do it, though, the more your network grows. Every time you help or serve someone, you're making a deposit. Eventually, this savings account explodes, and you can withdraw a return on your investment. That might come in the form of a new opportunity, customer or business venture.

Most of my good fortune has come from my network. I’m adamant that I never want to interview for a career opportunity ever again. This concept is a reality only because I’ve surrounded myself with like-minded people who want to change the world and create real value.

Every member shares ideas, contacts and customers. The network wins, and so do the people in it. Today, anyone can access knowledge from the internet. But you'll find that true power, success and influence come from your real-world relationships.

Related: This is the Single Most Important Thing You Can Do as an Entrepreneur

7. Look like you should be there.

How did I get into tech in the first place? I looked like I should be there. I carried an iPad, sat down in boardrooms, dressed for the occasion and took notes. After 101 or so meetings, I figured out the language of my pursuit. Then, I used that vocabulary to learn from people who know their stuff. 

"The idea is not to have experience from day one; it’s to get within proximity to the action and then get the experience unashamedly."

I remember reading a story about a man who became very successful just by sitting in board meetings at Google. People always asked him why he was there, and he'd say he was simply taking notes. No one questioned him further. He wasn’t supposed to be there, but he believed he was entitled to the experience. He believed in himself.

Related: She Swore She'd Be a Major Designer in New York City Someday. Here's How She Made It Happen.

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