The Body Shop made a splash on the British high street by showing that looking good was possible without using cosmetics tested on animals. The woman behind the business was Anita Roddick. As well as being a savvy entrepreneur, Roddick is a human rights activist and environmental campaigner. Her advice?
“If you think you're too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito.”
Even if you’re at the very bottom of the career ladder, your hard work makes a difference. Even if you feel like a tiny cog in a huge corporate machine, you can stand out and impress people. Whatever your role, focus on turning in stellar results and actively seek new opportunities. If you have a great idea, speak up! If you can see a way you could help your team, volunteer!
All the little things you do go into building your professional reputation. The same reputation can get you new clients, job opportunities, and promotions.
Nate Silver isn’t just a statistician; he’s a really good statistician. Silver shot to fame by correctly predicting the state-by-state results of the 2008 and 2012 US Presidential elections. His words of wisdom?
“If you have reason to think that yesterday’s forecast was wrong, there is no glory in sticking to it.”
Often, things that at first seemed like great ideas turn out to work poorly in practice. But when we created or endorsed the original idea, calling it a failure can feel like a personal embarrassment. Remember that having the backbone to admit to being wrong is one of the traits that will set you on course to be a formidable career person. There’s no shame in changing course if it’s for the good of the project.
Similarly, don’t plug on with a terrible concept just because you’ve already ploughed a lot of work into it. Backtracking is frustrating, but the stellar results that a new direction could produce is worth it.
Mellody Hobson is an influential American businesswoman. She currently chairs the DreamWorks Animation boards, and has a few pearls of wisdom to share:
“Invite people into your life that don't look like you or think like you.”
Variety is not just the spice of life, but the spice of the workplace too. Diverse teams have always outperformed their homogenous peers. This is because the more we surround ourselves with different outlooks, opinions and approaches, the greater variety of ideas we can generate. So take the time to get to know new people at work, whether by sitting with them at lunch or collaborating on a project. Networking can take you everywhere, and nobody is not worth networking with.
Coco Chanel is as well-known, as the actors who grace her company’s perfume ads. The French designer and businesswomen is oft-quoted on questions of style, but she has a few hints and tips when it comes to career success too:
“Don't spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.”
We all have an idea of what path we want our career to take, but often things just don’t work out that way. When you have your heart set on something it’s hard to give it up, but not knowing when to quit is a recipe for wasting aeons of your valuable time. You don’t have to accept that your dream is unachievable, just that that particular route is exhausted. Remember that there are many ways to the top, and the more you think outside the box, the more likely you are to get there.
Madam C. J. Walker was a 19th-century entrepreneur, philanthropist, and political and social activist. She was also allegedly the first female self-made millionaire in America. As an African-American, Walker overcame extraordinary obstacles and prejudice to achieve her success. Her advice?
“Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them.”
Very few good things in life will just fall into your lap. If you want to achieve career success, you need to get up and fight for it. Be proactive, and seek advice from managers and co-workers on areas you could improve and new skills you could learn. Have long-term and short-term goals, and plan how you’ll achieve them.
Beth Leslie is a career and lifestyle writer. She is also the editor of the Inspiring Interns blog, which provides graduate careers advice to young people looking to excel in the workplace.
Inspiring Interns is a graduate recruitment agency which helps career starters find everything from project management roles to marketing internships. Check out their listing for both graduate jobs London and graduate jobs Manchester.
Back to Candidate blogs