Leading executive recruiter shares 3 keys to career success

Why is it that some people seem to have a great career and others that may be even more educated or smarter seem to struggle?

This week’s podcast is with best selling author Jim Citrin. I am one of Chapters/Indigo’s trusted advisors for their business section. As part of that role, I am asked to overview all of the new books in the career section and to create a "best of" list. What I look for in a book is wisdom, fresh insight and practical advice. Jim’s new book, The Dynamic Path has been added to my recommended list.

Jim is the managing partner of Spencer Stuart’s media practice and the author of numerous books including his most recent, The Dynamic Path. In his day job, Jim has been involved with recruiting leaders for organizations such as Yahoo! to Microsoft . His role as an executive recruiter is to work with boards and the executive teams to identify the emerging leaders that can help companies make their brands more successful, and create more value for their shareholders. Jim has been actively involved with helping to turn good companies into great ones. The key difference, is the type of leaders that they hire. His research in this book was focused on answering the question that most professionals and organizations face, how do you succeed in a competitive world?

Jim spent many hours interviewing some of the world’s most successful professionals such as Lance Armstrong, Robert Staubach, Magic Johnson and Buzz Aldrin. What were the ingredients that separated them from their peers? What was the pattern that took them from individual to champion, champion to leader and finally, leader to legacy builder?

There were 3 key observations that resulted in universal success:

Natural Talents: There are 3 principles to knowing what your talents are. It comes easy to you. Others seek you out for your help in that particular area, and you enjoy it. Early in your career is the time to discover and test out your talents. Jim’s advice was not to get too highly specialized too early, focus on being directional without being too specific. You should use the early phase of your career, to increase the number of career options for the later phase of your career journey. Funny, I saw a sign recently "vote for the good MP". When you work out of talent, you will be great not just good! Professionals who want good careers work out of skills, great careers are built on talent.

Hard work: I would call this the compound career interest effect. The money you save today becomes worth 10-20 times more valuable, through the principle of compound interest. Jim’s research showed that the benefits of hard work showed up on average 10 years down the road. One of my clients who played in the NHL, Sean Pronger, was a peer of Teemu Selannes. Sean shared how Teemu was the first player at a practice and the last to leave. Yes, he was talented, but the compound career effect of "Talent x Hard Work" led to his long career. Hard work enabled him to have a much longer career, win a Stanley cup and yes, make 3 times the average salary of his peers. Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France 10 years before they gave him the trophy. Be like Lance and Teemu. Arrive a little earlier and do that bit extra every day.

Mental toughness: Buzz Aldrin shared his insight, "Fear is just a destructive emotion, all of the years of training don’t allow our emotions to take over our mind". We live in very turbulent times and my own personal sense is that our job market will get less predictable. John, as a pilot, understood turbulence. You need to nurture and develop this kind of mental toughness. The mind of a champion is focused on solving problems. Facts tell the truth, emotions are not necessarily accurate. Your ability to be tough on yourself, and build mental and emotional stamina is fundamental today. This is the era of globalization, upsizing, downsizing and right sizing. Your ability to rise to change and new circumstances like Buzz, can enable you to create breakthrough events. The very best have learned how to thrive in turbulence by working on the skill of mental toughness.

I am not suggesting that everyone can be Lance Armstrong or Billy Jean King or may even desire that kind of career success. As a runner, I love the concept that there will be only one winner, but everyone can have a personal best in the race. Choose to do your best. Yes, that is correct, you do have a choice. We can all choose the dynamic path. As Jim said "You can achieve more than you can imagine. If anyone is motivated to do great things, they can!"

Looking to get on your own dynamic path? Book an initial consultation . This could be one small step for you and one giant step for your career!

Along the road with you!

Alan