A question asked frequently — over a cocktail or in an interview — is “what’s the best advice you’ve ever received?”
My cheeky usual answer is “the advice I’ve actually followed”.
A bit of a smart-ass response, however you have to admit that my sarcasm is packed with a punch of truth.
Advice, regardless of the source, is in the eye of the beholder. If you nod sweetly and never follow the “great” advice you’ve just been given….well, let’s just leave it at that. But let’s face it, advice like ideas, are cheap and much too plentiful these days.
In truth, the best advice I’ve received was not to have a Plan B. I didn’t ask for this advice (imagine turning to a friend and mentor to ask “do you think I should have a Plan B?”), rather this guidance flowed after I mentioned my energies were singularly centered on my forthcoming book (FYI this conversation was way back in the Spring of 2015 after I had landed a literary agent but had yet to secure a publisher). “Good” my friend and mentor responded, “you should only have a Plan A. If you have a backup or Plan B you’re busy formulating, you’re not focused on Plan A”.
And yes, I’m continuing to follow this damn good advice approximately 18 months later — and will follow it for the foreseeable future.
As for the advice I routinely dish out…after jumping off the stage at the recent SheLeads Conference in New York City I was approached by an attendee who thanked me for the ‘great advice’ in my keynote. I took the opportunity to turn the tables and asked her to tell me what, exactly in my remarks, resonated. Here is (pretty much verbatim) what this hustling young Millennial professional had to say:
- Take an inventory of your network. Is your network wide enough? Is your network diverse? Do you have deep relationships (aka mentors) that you can turn to for guidance? To achieve success you need a both wide/shallow and deep/narrow network. Make time to take inventory of your network and your interactions within it.
- Everyone’s an expert, so make sure you’re really an expert — and invest the time, energy etc. in building your unique expertise. Then share your expertise/insights with your network. Success is no longer about what you know or who you know, it’s who knows what you know. Understand clearly what you want to be known for so you can quickly say yes! to opportunities (and/or pursuing the right opportunities).
- Build your bank accounts (both financial AND social capital accounts). Have an account that makes you fearless in pursuing your career or dreams (without relying on someone else to write a check or pay the rent). Be your own best investment, by making deposits regularly into the “Yes Me!” fund.