One of the biggest drawbacks of working for yourself is the complete and utter lack of a team.
I work by myself at my home office most days. I love it. But, it is a fairly lonely existence. You have to make an effort to get out and see people (hence my involvement in MIMA, and the other projects I help lead–#SoloPR meet-ups, corporate mastermind group, etc.).
Recently, I started working with one client where I have the opportunity to actually work with a small team. It’s really just 2-3 people, but for me, it’s a chance to: 1) Work with an actual team of humans, and 2) Work with younger people, a chance I don’t get very often.
It’s been invigorating. In fact, I kinda forgot how much I enjoy working with teams.
As this work moves along, I’ve been thinking about the advice I give to the team. Largely, they don’t need a lot of advice. I try to add value by directing, coaching and providing ideas. But, these younger people are smart. Much smarter than I was when I was their age.
Then again, everyone can use some advice once in a while, right? I love the little kernels of advice I pick up from friends and colleagues in the industry. Even though they may not give it to me directly 🙂
So, I thought I’d share 12 pieces of advice I’d give to my team–if I had one. It’s been fun to think about lately.
#1: Measure everything.
And provide context. Providing charts and graphs in that client recap is one thing. Providing context is something entirely different. Make sure when you’re spitting numbers and results back to a client/boss, you’re always providing context. Comparable data. YOY numbers. Whatever. Context, context, context.
#2: Hang with people smarter than you.
One of my favorites. I actually like to say “I never want to be the smartest person in the room.” Which, to be honest, is pretty easy for me 🙂 In all seriousness, if you surround yourself with people smarter than you, I can almost guarantee you will be a successful PR/marketing counselor. Heck, I WILL guarantee it.
#3: Own it. Always own it.
I have to give credit to my wife for this one. It’s kinda her saying. But, I like it. You screw up? Own it. You miss a deadline on a big project? Own it. You let down a teammate at a client trade show? Own it. The point is not hard here: If you make a mistake, own up to it. Accept it. Say you’re sorry. And move the hell on.
#4: Don’t listen to me.
OK, I do want you to listen to me. But, not always. You see, I’m not always right. I know that. You know that. And, I want you to think for yourself. I want you to push me. I want you to think creatively. So, don’t always listen to me.
#5: Never “I can’t.” Instead, “I’ll find a way…”
One of my favorite mantras. In fact, I was recently floored when my daughter spit this back at me when we were completing our Halloween costumes. I don’t want to hear you say “I can’t”. I want to hear: “I’ll find a way.”
#6: Be confident. Just not too confident.
It’s a fine line. Walk it carefully.
#7: Leave something for the rest of us.
Yeah, I’m talking to you Millennials! You’re smart. You’re ambitious. You’re going to run the world sooner than we all might think. Just make sure you leave something for us Xers. In all seriousness, I’m not kidding. No matter what happens, you will need your teammates. Make sure you take time to highlight THEM once in a while.
#8: You are NOT irreplaceable.
No one is. Everyone forgets this–including me. You are special–but you’re not that special, honey.
#9: Relationships and results. Nothing else matters.
Focus on those two things and I can almost guarantee you’ll be successful in this business. In fact, I WILL guarantee it! 🙂
#10: Don’t just network when you need something.
The cardinal sin of probably 75% of the workforce. I’ve seen this way too often in my career. On the flip side, the people who look at networking differently (ongoing focus on giving vs. always taking) manage to continually climb the ladder. Coincidence? I think not.
#11: Listen. Then listen some more. Then listen some more. THEN talk.
As a consultant, you feel like you need to talk all the time. Don’t. Over the years, I’ve learned the best consultants I know are the ones who are adept listeners. Better yet, they’re fantastic at listening for insights or nuggets and transforming those insights into actions and ideas. Huge skill to develop.
#12: Ignore and avoid work bullies.
Some people will say you have to learn to deal with difficult personalities. Don’t believe them. You don’t have to. Ever.