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I was 19 and a college sophomore, working for IBM part-time when I learned a lesson that would serve me well for the rest of my career. As a sales assistant, I was supporting the sales team by doing demos, helping with sales proposals, and creating marketing collateral.
The first time I created a piece of collateral, it was…terrible.
Now, I didn’t realize how terrible it was. I hadn’t created collateral before. I used some existing brochures as guides and took my first draft to the sales exec who requested it. He tried not to hurt my feelings, but based on the feedback, it needed a lot of work. I reworked it and again brought it back to him.
Better, but not there yet.
Finally, after my third attempt, he said, “Shellye, why don’t you ask someone who has done this before for guidance. I don’t have time”.
That was the last time I brought something unreviewed by another party to my boss or team lead. I learned the importance and value of reaching out to others that have already done the job I have, to help me show up better the first time.
Most people want to advance in their careers. Yet advancement typically comes after you’ve mastered your current role. So, the first area of focus needs to be on doing the job you already have extremely well.
Leveraging my early lesson, I’ve always tried to learn from others who held similar roles before me. Why start on first base, when learning from others might help you get to second base right away? People typically enjoy talking about their experiences and expertise. So, ask them.
I continued this approach late in my career, as well. When I became CEO for the first time, I ended up creating a small group of CEOs that met regularly, and we became each other’s sounding board and advisor.
When I was elected to my first public board, I reached out to experienced board members for advice on what made a useful and valuable board member. When I started writing my book, I spent plenty of time speaking with authors.
No one expects you to be an expert when you first start something new. So, use that time to gain as much insight, knowledge, and perspective from others as you can. This approach will help you master your current job faster, so you can continue to progress in your career.
Shellye is committed to helping people from diverse backgrounds to achieve their aspirations in careers and life. The content published above was made in collaboration with our members.
Shellye Archambeau is determined to help you with all possible strategies to climb the ladder of success. She values your feedback. Do mention them in the comment section below.