Lessons Learned on the Way Up

By Jonathan Wickman

When I think about the person I was when I started my career, it makes hard for me to believe I have come as far as I have.  Most of the personal development I have had the last several years has come directly from the office.  The lessons I have learned have helped me become a better husband and father.  Here, a few of the lessons I’ve learned in the workplace, that have helped me to be a better professional and person.

Importance of Mentors

I started my professional career with an internship at Utah Valley University. I was majoring in marketing but had no real hands on experience.  I was lucky enough to score a job with an online marketing company. At the time, I didn’t know the first thing about using the Internet to marketing to people.  The company only had the 3 owners and 2 interns.  I would come in everyday and work my hardest on the tasks I was assigned.  I learned quickly that if I put my nose to the grindstone and had a good attitude, one of the owners would give me a little bit of one on one training.  This mentoring has proven to be invaluable to me in terms of building my knowledge. If you work hard for people, they are much more inclined to mentor you. As a small business owner, you can also turn to the Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) SCORE  program for personalized one-on-one small business advise! The SCORE program, standing for Service Corps of Retired Executives is credited with training 590,550 aspiring and existing small business owners in 2010. Those businesses generated $19.4 billion in revenue. Their dedicated volunteers represent over 270,000 years of experience across 62 industries. Amazingly, SCORE is completely FREE, making SCORE a must-do for any small business owner.

 Lead by Example

After I finished my internship and graduated college, I got a job as a marketing analyst.  This was my first real professional job, and I didn’t know what to expect.  Luckily, my manager was a fantastic leader that had a lot of experience with team development.  One of the most important lessons I learned from him was leading by example.  The company where I worked had a lot of upper level VP and Directors that didn’t really add that much value.  My manager, who later became the COO, would come to work every day and make a real difference.  This attitude of putting your best foot forward gave him the respect from everyone in the company. As a small business owner, you are a leader. Perhaps you have employees to lead, and you also lead your clients. Walking the walk is important in business, and talk is cheap. As a small business owner, know your core values, and then live them.

Seize Opportunities

After spending 3 years and getting promoted several times, I have recently taken a job with a new company.  We provide an enterprise level solution for survey software.  When looking at taking the job, I saw an amazing opportunity to make a significant difference.  I have only been here for 2 months, and am already starting to broaden my responsibilities.  This has taught me that when you are lucky enough to have a good opportunity, you need to seize it as fast as possible. Being able to seize opportunities as they arise, is largely a matter of preparedness. As Louis Pasteur famously said of his seemingly serendipitous scientific discoveries, “Chance favors the prepared mind.” Luck is mostly a matter of time. Hang in there long enough, and you will get the chance breaks you are looking for, but will you be ready for them? Some opportunities come only once, be prepared, or risk missing the luck you are looking for.

 Jonathan Wickman is a marketer and guest blogger, he writes about his experiences in the workplace and marketing for Qualtrics, an online market research company.

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