Don’t Focus on How to Play the Game, Focus on Which Game You’re Going to Play

A few years back I learned a lesson that hit me like a ton of bricks. And changed how I think about life.
I started my career in investment banking. It paid well and I enjoyed working on high profile stuff. It was fun being surrounded by talented people. But I really didn’t like the work. 
I was competent, but I wasn’t awesome. I wasn’t playing to my inherent strengths. I worked hard but wasn’t motivated to go above and beyond. I was in the wrong game. 

Years later I stumbled on this quote from Kwame Anthony Appiah that hit me hard: “In life, the challenge is not so much to figure out how best to play the game; the challenge is to figure out what game you’re playing.”
While in finance, most of my effort was spent on HOW I was playing the game (e.g. improving my financial modeling). But that wasn’t my problem. My real problem was that I was in the wrong game. And until I found the right game, my upside was limited. 
It took years, but ultimately I changed games. I made a career pivot that drastically altered the trajectory of my career. It was really hard at first and I had to take a few steps back.

But in this new game I was playing to my strengths and I was energized to go to work each day. That combo brought increased satisfaction and rapid growth. 

So how do you figure out the right game? First, you need to discover your inherent strengths. This can be hard to do early in career, but with with more experience you can look back over the types of work you’ve done and find the activities that come naturally to you and that energize you.
Don’t worry about how well you’re playing the game. That will come with time. Focus on playing the right game. Play YOUR game. Because that will make all the difference in the end.

3 Daily Practices to Thrive During COVID-19 (Episode 5)

I don’t know about you, but for much of this COVID period, I’ve been in survival mode, learning on the fly how to cope with this new reality. But recently, I was challenged to look at things from a different perspective.

Rather than merely survive during this period, what if it were possible to truly thrive? What if it were possible in one year to look back and say that we experienced more personal growth and were more productive during this time than any other?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve come to believe that, while difficult, holding a new perspective is possible. In this video, I share 3 daily practices for thriving during COVID-19 and any other challenging period.

For more videos, click here.

How to Develop a Career Competitive Advantage (Episode 4)

In 2012 I read a book that had a profound impact on me and shifted how I think about my career.

That book is The Start-Up of You by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha.  The authors argue that we can develop a competitive advantage by answering questions regarding our assets, our aspirations, and the market realities.

1) Assets: What are you inherently good at? What do you have going for you? These can include soft assets (knowledge, skills, connections) and hard assets (cash, investments).

2) Aspirations: Where do you want to go in the future? What do you want to do? Who do you want to become?

3) Market Realities: What will people actually pay you for? Where is there a market demand?

In my latest video, I dive into these three critical questions, sharing how these questions inspired me to make a career pivot and how they can help you build a career competitive advantage.

Fortune Favors the Bold (Episode 3)

Being bold is important in all aspects of our lives, but it’s especially critical in our careers. I learned this lesson firsthand when my friend Ned’s boldness and creativity helped him find his dream job.

In Episode #3 of the Not Your Parents’ Workplace Show, I walk through why fortune favors the bold, share the story of how Ned landed the job, and provide two tips on how YOU can be bolder than ever.

Why I Wrote Not Your Parents’ Workplace, a Career Strategy Book

This article was originally published on LinkedIn. 

Last summer I completed an amazing internship at LinkedIn, and I’m excited to join the company after I graduate later this month.

Over the last year I’ve served as a LinkedIn Ambassador at my university. My primary goal in this position has been to help BYU students learn how to build a killer LinkedIn profile, develop networking skills, and leverage LinkedIn to find a great job. I’ve been a guest-lecturer in several courses and I’ve spent countless hours helping students on a one-on-one basis.

While working with these students, I’ve constantly thought back to when I was an undergrad. I remember trying to study hard and get good grades, but when it came time to find a career I was relatively clueless. In fact, my first internship interview was a total failure. I was asked about a time I showed initiative and responded with a story about how I “courageously” asked out a girl I thought was out of my league. When I finished the story they looked at me like I was a total weirdo. Needless to say, I didn’t get the internship.

I was unprepared for interviews and knew very little about how to build professional relationships or find a job, but thankfully I had many peers and mentors who helped guide me along the way. I eventually found a great internship which led to a full-time offer. I thought my future was set, but I was wrong.

During the first thirty years of my dad’s career, he worked at just two companies. In contrast, within a year of graduation I had already worked at three, enduring the largest bankruptcy in history at one company and getting laid off by another. Like many of you, I planned on one thing, but events and circumstances outside of my control forced me to pivot.

I knew the business world would be different from my father’s, but I didn’t realize how quickly things would change for my generation. The Millennial generation—individuals born between the early 1980s and early 2000s—are walking into a very different business environment than the one into which our parents worked. We can’t rely on the stability of a linear career path within one company.

A few months into my role as a LinkedIn Ambassador, I felt inspired to start writing down the experiences I’ve had and the lessons learned. Writing a book started as an audacious goal, but over time it turned into a reality.

My goal in writing this book is to share an intimate account of the highs and lows I’ve experienced in my young career. But more importantly, I share lessons for those trying to make the most of their career. These lessons include:

  • How to build professional relationships
  • How to develop a competitive advantage
  • How to adapt in an ever-changing workplace

To be successful in this new world, we must take a proactive approach to managing our careers. I believe that the stories and lessons shared in my book will help readers learn how to launch a meaningful career and take charge of their future.

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