I’m 52 and usually the oldest guy in the room whenever I meet with colleagues. How has this happened? How have I survived and prospered in a so-called ‘young person’s industry’? Here’s the answer, in 5 simple golden rules. They worked for me. Will they for you? First, not a rule. Just a reality. To survive in business and ensure your career keeps evolving and remaining relevant, you have to work on yourself as a project. You have to work harder on yourself than you do on your job. Seriously. Get very serious about yourself and working on improving and developing yourself. Here are the five golden rules:
- Stay green: If you’re green, you grow. If you're ripe, you rot. As simple as that. Stay green. Be open to new learning. Develop a thirst for it. Ensure you are learning and growing every day. Take steps to make this happen. Critique your progress regularly.
- Stay connected: Easier said than done, but I reckon I am more connected to what's happening ‘in the street’ than most of the youngsters in my business…and we have 4,000 of them. Why? Because I read the papers, online and off, every day. I read a lot. I read magazines on stuff I am not interested in. I go into shops I have never been in. Walk streets I have never walked. Have meals in suburbs I don’t know. Order dishes I have never had. Talk to taxi drivers. Go to the mosh pit of rock concerts. I have one of the biggest online brands of anyone in my business and through this have a connection with a global community from which I constantly learn. And I’m the oldest guy in the room.
- Have breakfast: Seriously. Have breakfast, three times a week, with a client, a colleague, industry contact, journalist. Give them 'no holds barred' time. Ask them this powerful question: 'How are you?' Make it all about them. They will tell you stuff they have told no one. You will make genuine human connections. And you will become invaluable to them. Oh, and make lifelong friendships.
- Become a productivity ninja: Get more of the important things done every day. Work hard on improving your efficiency and effectiveness. Plan every day in advance. Make ‘to do’ lists. Prioritise them carefully. Keep to those priorities as closely as you can in the cut and thrust of the day. Police your progress every day.
- Have a third place: Starbucks built its business on this concept. We have work. We have home. But where is your 'third place’ – that quiet, comforting space you can go to for a brief retreat and quiet reflection? For me, a coffee shop in North Sydney. I go there once a week. For an hour. To reflect upon how I am going, my progress and failures. How I need to sharpen my offer and accelerate the growth. How I can get more done and ensure I am working on the genuine important stuff. I always leave my third place with clarity of mind, a lighter step and hope in my heart.
Those are the five golden rules for me on giving yourself the best shot at a vibrant, opportunities-rich and rewarding career – for as long as you want to have it. Beware, though: you will end up the oldest person in the room, but you know what? That’s kind of exciting too. Do you have any other ideas on how to stay current, connected, evolving and valuable? This post originally appeared on Wrestling Possums.