Tag Archives: Learning from experience

Own Your Professional Career Decisions

Have you ever lost your job? Do you have a wide enough professional network? Do you feel disconnected from the latest technology and overall economic trends?\r\n\r\nIf you have been following my newsletters, you will know that I have covered several situations around the three steps outlined in my book, The Business Apostolate: Insights to Define and Achieve Your Mission in Life:\r\n\r\nStep1: Become 100 percent accountable for the decisions you make (and not make) in your life.\r\nStep 2: Develop and record in writing your personal mission statement.\r\nStep 3: Live your mission 24/7.\r\n\r\nThis month, I want to cover a topic related to Step 1: How to become 100 percent accountable for the professional career decisions we make and do not make. I am going to leverage the insights I gathered from a book I recently read: The Start-Up of You, by Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn co-founder) and Ben Casnocha. I found the book highly relevant to today’s business and job environment, where lifelong employment with a single company is no longer the norm, and where you need to assume a much higher level of ownership of the professional career you wish to have.\r\n\r\nHere are my top three insights from the book:\r\n

    \r\n

  • Treat your career like a start-up company. Be in permanent “beta mode,” constantly searching for ways to improve your value proposition in the job market.
  • \r\n

  • Invest in yourself. Related to insight number one, keep a close watch on the market trends and skills required to succeed in your field. Invest not only in the skills you need for your current job, but try to anticipate which skills you will need for future careers. Avoid the “Detroit Syndrome,” where the U.S. car industry failed to anticipate market and economic trends and was overtaken by foreign competition.
  • \r\n

  • Network. In the chapter titled “Who You Know Is What You Know,” we learn that having a broad and heterogeneous network is not only important to spot career opportunities, but is also a source of market intelligence. It is important, however, to build and nurture your network by giving something of value to them. Build the relationship first, with no strings attached.
  • \r\n

\r\nReading this book gave me some fresh ways to assess how well I am living up to my professional role within my personal mission statement. I have started to build the three insights shared above into my professional priorities. They may also be relevant to your own professional career.\r\n\r\nI want to close this newsletter with a quote from the American motivational speaker and author Les Brown: “Accept responsibility for your life. Know that it is you who will get you where you want to go, no one else.” As you embark on this journey, count on me to help you succeed.

Lessons Learned From an Entrepreneur Taxi Driver

I want to share the business principles I saw being practiced by a taxi driver on a recent trip to Peru. Although the principles were not new to me, the way this entrepreneur put them in practice caught my attention. Hopefully, they will catch yours as well.\n\nUpon finishing a presentation to a group of general managers and business owners on work and life balance, I struck an enlightening conversation with a taxi driver. The 20-mile ride from the event site started with the driver telling me that he enjoyed learning and wanted to listen to my presentation, but he had prudently decided not to “break” into an event where he had not been invited.\n\nHe told me that he saw himself as an entrepreneur, a provider of safe transportation from point A to point B. His customers were mainly women who did not want to use “a taxi from the street,” but rather one where the driver was somebody they could trust. He charged a premium for his services, but this did not seem to present an issue to his customers. To the contrary, he mentioned that the demand for his services was larger than he alone could fulfill. I noticed he received two to three customer calls during the ride, which he politely handled by indicating he was with a customer and would return the call as soon as he was free. He had plans to finance the purchase of a second car and had already found a driver for that unit, another retired police officer.\n\nHe said he also owned a beauty salon, managed by and co-owned with his wife. He was proud of his rather large customer base, which had also become the main source of prospects for his transportation business. In fact, the lady who managed the logistics of the session I had just performed was one of his customers.\n\nHe was a retired police officer. He positioned such experience as a key credibility factor for secure taxi rides. He left the police force due to what he called “political differences” with his superiors. It seemed that these differences had been escalating over the years, until they got to the point where he could no longer endure them.\n\nAs we reached our final destination, I thanked the driver-entrepreneur for the great lessons he had shared with me from his life and his businesses. I congratulated him for the clarity of his thinking and his growing businesses. I gave him my business card and a sample of the Spanish version of my book, The Business Apostolate: Insights to Define and Achieve your Mission in Life. He gave me his business card and committed to share his reactions to my book upon reading it.\n\n In summary, here are the top three business principles I saw being practiced by this driver-entrepreneur:\n

    \n

  1. You can charge a premium for your products and services, as long as you offer an added benefit versus other competitors.
  2. \n

  3. There is a large cross-selling value in a group of satisfied customers.
  4. \n

  5. He understood the value of integrity and saw it as a key element of productive networking and successful entrepreneurship.
  6. \n

\nI want to close this newsletter with a quote from the American writer Richard Bach: “You are never given a dream without also being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it, however.” As you embark on this journey, count on me to help you succeed.\n\n \n\nPercy M. Cannon\nAuthor, Business Consultant and Professional Coach\nwww.cannonbalance.com\n\n \n\nPS1: Use this link if you want to buy my book, The Business Apostolate, Insights to Define and Achieve your Mission in Life with a special discount for newsletter readers. Just enter code MU5Z7NLM.\nPS2: Use this link to ask questions, post comments, and request topics you would like to see in future issues.\nPS3: Use this link to subscribe to future newsletter issues or review previous ones.

What Can You Learn from the Pivotal Points in Your Life?

What Can You Learn from the Pivotal Points in Your Life?

\n

When was the last time you stopped to analyze the major events in your life, those instances where you faced a fork in the road and had to make an important choice that transcended the rest of your life?

\n

Analyzing these pivotal points can provide useful insights on how you behaved under pressure, how you reacted to a negative event, and how you found worthy alternatives where there did not seem to be any.

\n

These insights will help you identify opportunities for growth, where you can take 100 percent responsibility and accountability for the decisions in your life. This is the first of the three steps I recommend you follow to define and achieve your mission in life. The other two are to develop and record in writing your personal mission statement and to live your mission 24/7.

\n

From the several pivotal points in my life, I have picked three to share with you in this and future newsletters. Each of them provided me with important lessons, some of which could be applicable to your life as well. More important, I am sharing them with you so they can motivate you to identify those pivotal points in your professional or personal life and draw insights and lessons that can help you enrich the rest of your life.

\n

The first one I want to share happened when I was 18. I had been attending college in Peru for a year, but my school (and the country) was going through a difficult time. We had lost a semester due to political unrest and strikes. With no signs of improvement, I went to the American Embassy in Lima and applied for a scholarship to a U.S. school.

\n

After a year-long process of documenting financial need and transcripts, taking tests and undergoing several interviews, I was granted a free tuition scholarship to the University of Kansas. However, I was expected to pay for room and board for the four years of study abroad. Between my parents’ savings and my own, we had enough to barely cover the first year. I was scared of running out of money in a foreign country and told my parents that perhaps I should stay and finish undergraduate school in Peru. “Things will surely improve at my school,” I said. My parents asked me to think about the pros and cons of going to Kansas. On the one hand, they said, I may indeed ran out of money at the end of the first year and have to come back. But I would have completed two school semesters that I could transfer to my Peruvian school. I would have also perfected my English. On the other hand, once in Kansas, I could find part-time jobs and additional financial aid to fund room and board for the remaining school years.

\n

I reluctantly accepted and, sure enough, it all worked out. After three wonderful years in Kansas, I was able to graduate as a chemical engineer. This experience and the follow-up MBA became a strong foundation for my nearly three decades in the corporate world with P&G, IBM and Microsoft.

\n

Through this experience, I learned the following lessons:

\n\n

    \n

  1. \n

    Have meaningful goals. In this case, the goal was to earn an engineering degree. This drove me to look for alternatives when the current situation was not optimal.

    \n

  2. \n

  3. \n

    Involve others in your decisions. Had I not had my loving parents paint the two scenarios, I would have likely reacted to my fear of the unknown, avoided change, and stayed in Peru.

    \n

  4. \n

  5. \n

    Act based on a plan. Once I decided to go to Kansas, I was committed to two priorities: getting the best possible grades, and covering my room and board expenses. For the latter, I took whatever job I was able to get and found additional financial aid.

    \n

  6. \n

\n

I want to close this newsletter with a quote credited to the Roman censor Sallust (1st century BC): “Every man is the architect of his own fortune.” As you embark on this journey, count on me to help you succeed.

\n

In the next newsletter, I will share suggestions on how to improve the work and life balance of people in the workforce. Stay tuned!

\n

Percy M. Cannon\nAuthor, Business Consultant and Professional Coach\nwww.cannonbalance.com

\n

PS1: Use this link to ask questions, post comments, and request topics you would like to see in future issues.\nPS2: Use this link to subscribe to future newsletter issues or review previous ones.\nPS3: Use this link if you want to buy my book, The Business Apostolate, Insights to Define and Achieve your Mission in Life with a special discount for newsletter readers. Just enter code UN2WS547.

\n