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How to have a great career

Updated: Feb 21, 2022

I had the privilege last night to speak with young leaders in China about my career journey. They asked amazing questions which I’d thought I’d share with all of you:

How do you manage your busy schedule and remain so energetic and passionate?

Keep in mind, this was 9:30 at night for me, so I think they were impressed I was still awake!

I am a big believer in managing my energy and not my time. I feel really lucky to have access to resources by the Tignum group which emphasizes four practices for managing your energy: 1)movement; 2)nutrition; 3)mindset; and 4)recovery. I’ve talked about mindset in a previous post, here.

  • I move every day—cycling, yoga, strength training; something. I definitely get energy from movement and it is key for mindset, IMO.

  • I try to eat whole foods of high quality, but I do have a sweet tooth, so this pillar remains a work in progress for me. (And I recognize my privilege of having access to plentiful, high-quality foods. This is not the case for everyone).

  • Recovery is something I’ve always struggled with, but the pandemic has been a good forcing function for that. Recovery is not mindless TV or social media (for me), its going for a walk in nature, spending time with friends (even on Zoom during lock downs), writing and reading. Although I have been know to zone out with my Twitter feed and binge watch TV. You might have guessed on one of my favorites if you follow my posts (spoilers).

How do you grow your people?

This question came out of a story I told about growing your people vs. protecting your people. When I was leading the Entresto team, we were under tremendous pressure to deliver this medicine in record time to save as many lives as possible. As a leader, I felt it was my job to shield the team from that pressure so they could deliver the submission under these tight deadlines (which they did—they were amazing!). But when I got to Canada and was leading the 100 person medical team through a transformational journey, a coach told me, “Its not your job to protect your people, its your job to grow your people.” This was certainly a mindset shift after my Entresto experience, but she was fully right. If we were going to be successful in our transformation, I needed to help them grow into the best leaders they could be. How do you do that?

  • IMO, the best way to grow people, is to give them timely, honest feedback. I find that many managers don’t give developmental feedback, ever. I saw this in Canada, people with fundamental performance and behavioral issues had never had that difficult conversation with their manager. IMO, this is not out of kindness to the associate, but because of the cowardliness of the manager! Explaining to someone why and how they are not meeting standards is difficult and uncomfortable. It takes preparation and training to do well. In other words, its hard work! And its the work of the manager. Get comfortable being uncomfortable, its the price you pay to be a leader.

How do you choose your next step?

How do you know what job is right for you? One thing for folks early in their career to keep in mind, you don’t have to choose perfectly. While you’ll want to be self-aware and thoughtful about your decision, chances are any “mistakes” you might make won’t be fatal. You’ll learn more about yourself, develop new skills and make new connections. All good things for a career.

Another part of the question: what’s more important, money, prestige or how the job prepares you for what’s next? Its clearly the latter for me—The great Jim Rohn said, “Don’t take a job for what you’ll make, take a job for what it will make of you.” Great advice for anyone!

Thanks Team China! It was my honor to speak with you and share some leadership pearls. I hope to visit someday soon.

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