Diane Francis from The National Post shares her career principles

This weeks Podcast is with Diane Francis. She is one of Canada’s most respected business journalists. She shares her advice on success, and how to control your career destiny.

Diane had always been a very good writer, having won numerous awards in her youth. So at twenty-nine, she took a once-a-week writing course at Sheridan College while her children were in day care. "I loved it and it loved me, and my teacher thought that I was very talented." Her teacher set her up with an internship at a small paper in Brampton, Ontario. On her third day on the job, she was offered a full-time position. Fifteen months later, she started to freelance and quickly became one of the busiest, most sought-after writers for magazines, including Macleans & Chatelaine. Later, the Toronto Star approached her to write about Business, and from there came radio and television appearances and the first of eight books. Her career journey wasn’t carefully planned; it grew out of her interests and passions. "I want to enjoy ideas, the debate of ideas, and be involved in a piece of the conversation that really matters. I don’t have to dominate the conversation or lead it. I couldn’t do it, it is the ride I enjoy." Consistent throughout her multiple careers are her principles: You are only as successful as your ability to deal with failure. Everyone experiences failure. Here are some of Diane’s tips:

Take risks. Business in North America is set up to take risks and chances. This is different from Asia or Europe, where it is difficult to launch both a new business and to recover from failure if it should occur. We are in the land of "can do" opportunity.

Don’t get bored. "If you get bored, it will show up in the quality of your work. I felt that if I was bored, the readers would know it and they would eventually look for other people to read." In 2005, Diane pursued a fellowship at the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University. Interviewing more than thirty professors at Harvard helped to tune her up, know the players and "I came to know what I didn’t know."

Location matters. It’s all about the right exposure. "If you want to make it in any arena, you need to be close to where the cluster of people are – and that’s also where the action is. For the Canadian media, this is Toronto; in the United States, New York. From money management to opera and ballet, it is the cluster that’s important. Even though you have technology, you have to establish a personal, physical chemistry. Professional and personal support groups are important. It is an infrastructure that you need."

Be honest, work hard and have a strong, clear moral compass. "Life has taught me to be more honest. I am rigid on those tenets. It leads you to better deal with failure. You don’t lose focus. This is critical in politics and policy. Be transparent. Everyone has their ‘clothes off.’ You’d better make sure you are not hiding anything, otherwise the world will see it."

Along the road with you,

Alan Kearns

This week’s 10 Minute WORKout


Look at your current and past careers. Have you taken risks? Do you work hard on a daily basis? Do you have career focus?