What You Really Need To Get Right About Work

Couldn’t agree more with this article by Ogilvy One’s Brian Fetherstonhaugh:

Having spent over 35 years in business in global firms, I have seen tens of thousands of career trajectories–from the first steps of entry-level millennials to the long journeys of Fortune 500 CEOs.

What I see: Most people have the wrong approach to careers. They think about the immediate next step, not the pathway. They treat a career like a sprint, when in fact it is a 40-plus-year marathon. They are more focused on getting promoted on Tuesday than about having great choices when it really matters–in their 40s and 50s.

I have been thinking about careers for decades and lecturing on the topic for the last dozen years at places like Yale, MIT, Harvard, Columbia, McGill and NYU. Here are some of the things that you might not be thinking about your career, but should be.

That I pretty much sums up my attitude towards my work and current career choice. If you forget about taking a big picture view of your career then you’re likely not laying the right foundation for yourself in 20 years time which is when you want to be successful and established in whatever field you choose.

I’m glad that architects are able to still work and be respected at extremely old ages. Some even keep working till they croak! But from what I’ve observed most architects only ever become world famous in their 60s. That’s at least 30 years of practice before ever making a name for yourself. But when I read about their life and the choices they made I’ve realised that, whether by deliberate choice or not, the choices they made in their younger days and the lessons they learnt played a significant role in defining who they would later become.

Even though I’m now working in a corporate setting I’m eager to one day start my own firm and to focus mostly on private residences. I love houses and feel that I can bring the most value to private clients rather than to a faceless corporation where project managers drive teams to meet deadlines. There’s something impersonal and quite dreadful about that experience. I doubt this path will ever bring me much prosperity or fame but it’s one that I know I can be proud of where I can excel.

In the meantime I treat every experience as one to hone my interpersonal skills. Dealing with people is the crux of my profession (aside from the design element which sometimes feels like a walk in the park in comparison) as Knowing how to effectively present your ideas in order to convince a client is an invaluable skill. Other than that I’m trying to keep up to date with design trends and new building technologies something that my current job enables.

Being able to do all this gives me confidence that when the right time comes for me to start my own practice on my own I’ll be ready.


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