Monday, November 5, 2018

6 Tips for Staying on Top and Getting Ahead

I'm learning that career progression often depends on certain characteristics and habits we develop overtime. Character traits and habits that will push your business goals, or hinder you from achieving all that you can. It's the little things that move you forward, which you don't necessarily learn when you google your craft, but you learn on the job; while you're communicating with others, and from the feedback (in your face or behind your back) you gain after your assignment. I'm sharing certain habits I've been more intentional about developing since my recent career shift:
  1. Write everything down: 
    • For planning sake: I've gotten into the habit of planning out my week every Sunday night. In my notepad, I write out overall tasks I'd like to accomplish in that week, then take it a step further by writing out what I need to do each day of that week. At the end of each month, I go back and conduct an audit of the tasks I've done to help me better plan the next month. 
    • For memory's sake: Writing everything down also applies to conversations with clients and staff. I learned from early on the importance of documenting what was said and what was agreed on so you always have a point of reference.
  2. Taking initiative pays off: As Sheryl Sandberg says in her book Lean In: "It is hard to visualize someone as a a leader if she is always being told what to do." During a recent Beneath Your Beauty masterclass, Dan Ogunsanwo, one of our guest speakers, echoed this sentiment. You have to assume authority and make those around you (clients included) believe that you are an authority in your field. Take initiative by presenting new ideas and marketing strategies; getting to the boardroom a few minutes before your boss; anticipating the needs of your consumers and having that extra item or incentive ready...just in case.
  3. Be approachable and available (so people can talk to you): There's a level of trust people should have when they think of your brand (or the face of your brand). I find that since a number of us are often interacting with our audience online, we miss the point of being truly social. People should feel comfortable approaching you. I've learned that (in addition to a good work ethic), kindness is one of the driving forces behind success. So when someone reaches out for a coffee date, say yes (within reason). Don't be afraid to have conversations and get to know people. As they say, your network is your net worth, so lead with kindness and openness.
  4. Don't take it personal (but assume others will): Working in my field has taught me invaluable lessons -- one being leave emotions out of it. There have been times where I've felt offended at how a colleague spoke to me; undervalued because a client didn't seem appreciative; and disappointed when I didn't receive credit for an idea. And let me tell you, I'm an emotional person and often let my emotions lead. So when things happen that call for an emotionally charged response, take a breath before you respond. (Yes, you should respond to what's bothering, but learn to do so delicately and honestly without your emotions hindering your progress). From her book Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg says "communication works best when we combine appropriateness with authenticity, finding that sweet spot where opinions are not brutally honest, but delicately honest."
  5. Always ask for feedback: Lately, I've found so much value in soliciting ideas and input -- from clients, and from other colleagues in my field. Contrary to popular belief, needing help or a second opinion is not a weakness, but it's a step to finding a path forward. So, talk to your consumers or your clients. Find out what you're doing well, and find out what needs improvement. Requesting feedback can also help build your relationships with consumers, clients, or even help you form a mentor relationship with those excelling in your field already. During a recent work trip to London, I sat down with two women excelling in my field and didn't hesitate to ask for their insight on certain aspect of the job I'm still learning. For the first time since I started this journey, I exchanged ideas with women who were unafraid to grow together. That's the way forward.
  6. Be an expert in your field: Don't be content working with what you have and what you know. Constantly research, and be open to learning. If you're an influencer, read up on photography so you're well versed on how to improve your imagery. If you're in ministry, go beyond what you know and read literature on a topic you want to explore. As a fashion brand, don't stop at designing your merchandise; learn how manufacturers work, study trends and do a deep dive of your consumer market.
As a bonus, I'll add a tip I'm still mastering: don't doubt yourself. I'm learning that the actions I take must match up with God's word over my life. So if God tells you you are fearfully and wonderfully made, act accordingly -- stop second guessing that event you want to produce, that blog post you want to write, or that job you want to apply. You get ahead by believing you are qualified for that specific task.

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*Literally just realizing how much I love Zara! Ha!



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