I’ve been given the honor to speak to some upcoming graduates at a prestigious university about what it takes to have a successful and sustained career. Now comes the hard part! What do I tell these kids!? My first question to the person who asked me to come speak was, “Have you ever read anything I’ve written?” She said yes, but I have a feeling she was lying as she frantically Googled “Tim Sackett” and tried to actually read something I’ve written. Next she dropped the, “we don’t have much money, we can pay you”, which in speaking circles means, this is a one-time gig, so let’s have some fun with it!
I really took some time to think about all those great traits you need to have in having a long term successful career. Great work ethic, ability to learn new concepts quickly, being adaptable, being disciplined, high attention to detail, getting along with others, having high Emotional Intelligence, finding purpose in your daily work, Perseverance, being trustworthy, taking initiative, managing up, being open minded, a change agent, a savvy networker, of course intellectual fire power, passion for what you do, someone of high morals and values, empathetic, willingness to fail, willingness to succeed, high internal motivation, ability to gain alignment, focused, positive accountability, follow-up skills, creative, pragmatic, ability to gain buy-in, ability to prioritize, works well in a team, works well alone, political organizational savvy, telling it like it is, effective problem solver, being self aware, effective decision maker, your ability to influence, learning agility, technical savvy, being proactive, being a great listener, being a great presenter, being optimistic, being committed, goal setting, expert communicator, managing conflict and making a great cup of coffee are all fantastic traits! But how could I choose only 3. That was my mission. Give the kids 3 things that would guarantee their success in their chosen career paths.
I knew right away there were a few traits I wouldn’t choose, primarily because I don’t have them and, well, look at me, I have a blog, which means I must be successful. You don’t need these traits to be successful:
1. Good Grammar. Only old HR ladies and copy editors care about grammar. Once you get past having no mistakes on your resume, you’re home free the rest of your career — unless you want to be a paid writer.
2. Trigonometry. No one needs Trig really, it’s just a public school torture device to keep kids in check. Unless you want to be a rocket scientist, Trig is not a trait you need for a successful career.
That’s is really the only traits I could think of that weren’t important to your long term success of your career.
Then it hit me, after 20 years in the HR and Talent Acquisition fields, I knew! There are 3 things that can guarantee you long term career success. Here they are in order of importance:
2. Family Wealth.
The first one was really a no-brainer! Beautiful people always have jobs or job prospects. Let’s face it, we all love hiring beautiful people! In fact the only reason you have ugly people working for you is there wasn’t a beautiful candidate. The positive piece of this for the kids is that with enough money you can change your outward appearance and increase your chances for success!
Family wealth was fairly easy as well. If you come from a wealthy family you can be a complete tool and still have lifetime employment and career upward mobility. The rich get richer, and so do their kids. Nothing says great hirer like your CEO telling you to hire so-and-so because he plays golf with me. Opportunities are rare, unless you’re wealthy.
The prospect of coming from the ‘right’ genes having an impact on long term career success intrigues me. The reality of it is, the only way to have a sustained successful career if you have sustained long term health — that’s your DNA baby! Some people never pick up a cigarette and die of lung cancer at 53. Some people smoke 2 packs a day for 60 years and die of old age at 90. You can’t teach DNA!
I can’t wait to share these with the kids!