How often in our careers do we get to say “I love my job”? Well, I can honestly say that I love my job, largely because what I do is try and help other people love their jobs. That, for me, is truly thrilling. Successful women are impressive and we want to know their secrets. Some women wear their power like a badge where others exude a quiet confidence.
It’s also an exciting time to be working in my industry, digital, where a new reality is emerging: Work is no longer a place. This has made a huge difference in how people not only experience their careers, but also in how they live their lives.
I recently presented about the future of work at a Win@Work Event in Johannesburg, South Africa. The discussion touched on critical questions, from the role of the aging workforce to how organizations can promote healthy work-life balance in an always-connected world.
Considering how rapidly the world of work is shifting — to date, businesses have already spent $1 billion hiring online freelancers — we are compelled to think through not only what these changes will mean, but also how we can best position ourselves to be successful in this rapidly changing environment.
1. Craft your personal brand
Think of the mental shortcuts we all use to make sense of people we don’t know well. The digital artist. The crack coder. The genius with big data. With a growing number of free agents, personal brand is growing in importance, as managers seek people with the right characteristics for fluid projects and teams. Think of your personal brand this way: When somebody encounters you for the first time, what do you want them to think? What do you bring to the table? How do you want to be remembered?
Once you’ve identified your personal brand — or what you bring to the table — deliver on it consistently. Then promote it in places that matter to your audience: places like LinkedIn, Twitter, relevant blogs, live Win@Work conferences and meetups and Digger.
2. Focus on the 20%
I’ve mentioned this in a previous post, and I cannot repeat it often enough: How much of what you do has a genuine impact? There is a big difference between progress and motion. In this increasingly results-based economy, impact is more important than ever.
How do you distinguish between progress and motion? Each situation is different, but applying a framework to force prioritization is an important step. I think of it this way: Roughly 20% of the effort gets 80% of the result. I continuously ask myself and my team: “Is this work part of the 20%?” When we use this test, we end up making a lot of adjustments.
3. Prioritize people
Right after business school I had two job offers. The first was with a database company for what felt like a lot of money. The second was for much less money, but at a company, full of innovative people. It felt like a tough decision at the time, but I chose the people, and I’m certain that doing so changed the course of my life. Not only did I learn from the best, but several team members went on to become legends and led me to my subsequent opportunities.
Work with great people and they will open doors for you.
4. Evolve yourself every day - Invest in herself.
Prioritise education above all else. A successful women believes in the power of knowledge and she’s aware that she needs to be educated to be competitive whether in day-to-day life or business. She never stop learning new things and strive to be the smartest version of herself.
It used to be that you attended university and then you went to work. Now, the demand for skills is changing fast. No matter how experienced you are, you need to be nimble. With options like Coursera, General Assembly and more, successful people view education as a continuous, lifelong pursuit. A successful woman understands that education is important and she pursues it. Whether it is formal or informal—successful women are always increasing their learning
5. Articulate solutions, not problems
I recently hired three freelancers to compare wages for countries around the world. Why three? I needed a researcher for a bigger project and this little test would let me compare and choose the best person.
Only there was a problem with my assignment — each of the countries on my list approaches the calculation differently. All three freelancers noticed the problem right away. Two of the three asked how I’d like them to proceed. The third came back with a proposal for the best way to capture and compare the data I needed. Who do you think got the job?
It is good to flag problems early. But successful people proactively find a solution.
Successful women emit confidence and maybe that’s because they have learned to be articulate. They always know what to say and when to say it. A girl boss can command a courtroom, a business meeting, or a podcast because she has a handbag full of verbiage and she knows how to use it.
Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of Facebook and one of the nation’s most influential female executives. She led Facebook in skyrocketing revenues and previously spent six years as a Google vice president. Not only is Sandberg a business powerhouse, but she is a huge supporter of women’s empowerment too. She’s written two books focused on the subject and even founded a non-profit organization called Lean In to help women everywhere realize their potential. Sandberg has dazzled many audiences with her articulation and her TED talks are some of the most influential ever given
It's time to cheer on girls and women who want to sit at the table
- Sheryl Sandberg
6. Think outside the talent box
This is for you entrepreneurs. When building your business, you no longer need to limit yourself to candidates within 50 miles or so of your office. We now have fresh ways to integrate talent. Using online hiring platforms like Digger, you can think much more expansively. Do you only need a few hours a week of design? Consider hiring that talented part-time engineer
7. Build a high-performance culture
Wondering how to build a great culture with a virtual or blended team? Well, online hiring is no place for bad managers. If you are a bad manager, you should skip it. But, if you are a good manager, here is the trick: Take the very best practices you have for face-to-face management and implement them in spades. Here are a few examples:
a. Write down crisp, performance-based objectives with clear, written deadlines
b. Check in frequently
c. Give clear feedback and rewards
d. Treat virtual team members as kindly as people in your office
At my company we use practices like these to manage all of our team members, especially those who join us every day from around the world.
8. They persevere.
Successful women don’t get to the top by stopping and giving up; they keep climbing. Perseverance is one key to success and if anyone knows about that, it’s mega-author J.K. Rowling. When she wrote the first novel in the Harry Potter series, she was a single mom living close to poverty. Now over 400 million copies later, an entire Universal Studios replication of the magical world she created, and several blockbuster films later, J.K. Rowling is a multi-millionaire and one of the most influential women in the world.
9. They pursue what excites them.
A woman who realizes her talents and dares to pursue them is already a success.
Oprah Winfrey was born in rural Mississippi to poverty and a teenage single mother. She was later raised in an inner-city neighbourhood where she was molested as a child and became pregnant at 14 years old. When her infant son died, Winfrey went to live with the man she considers her father in Tennessee. She got a job as a co-anchor on the local news when she was only 19 and she was good at her job and that was exciting. After working her way up to daytime talk show host, the entire world is now on a first name basis with Oprah. After a hugely successful career, Oprah keeps pursuing what excites her, starring in films like A Wrinkle in Time and starting her OWN network.
Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe
- Oprah Winfrey
Your thoughts? Do you have any best practices you’d like to share as we move into the future of work?