Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Patty Azzarello on Succeeding While Loving Life

The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology (ABI for short) Board of Advisers meeting last week was really inspirational.  On the morning of the second day, we were treated to a talk by Patty Azzarello based on her new book Rise: How to be Really Successful at Work AND Like Your Life.  Even though the focus was on life in industry, I felt like there was a lot of advice I could apply to my own situation.

Business girl

The main theme was that "just working hard doesn't work."  In your career, it's easy to think that it's all about your expertise.  And it kind of is... at the beginning.  But then there's more to it.

It's not about politics, promotions, or raises — it's about how you approach your work.

There are three main things you should be doing / thinking about: aim to do better (have more impact), look better (be visible but not annoying), and connect better (get support).  Next are some tidbits on each of these.

Do Better
  • Be less busy.  Nobody has motivation to make you less busy other than you.
  • Know what the business values.
  • Be wary of the trap of being a workhorse.  Although it might feel like the right thing, the only reward is more work. (Incidentally, this is one reason I don't believe in working overtime regularly.)
  • Rise above the work and learn to delegate.
  • Create processes and systems.
  • Defend your time and be ruthless about priorities.
  • Evolve your job in order to add business value, and change it to suit you better.  The better you make your career, the more value you will end up giving your company.
Look Better
  • Don't be invisible, but never put politics before getting results.
  • You don't need to have a big personality to succeed.  Humility is ok.  Build credibility as you.
  • People with high credibility get more done, and are asked fewer (potentially dumb!) questions.
  • Don't educate others about what you do. Instead, use the language of the business, and connect the dots to your own work for those you speak to.
  • You have a brand that is defined by others. Ask yourself if it's what you want.  It should show who you are, why you are good, and what you care about.  A package of skills is boring.  (Patty talks about brand-building on her blog.)
Connect Better
  • The biggest impact on your career will come from having a mentor.
  • Don't be afraid to get help.  Build your team and never struggle alone.
  • Build relationships.
  • When networking, give more than you take, meet people for a reason, and keep in touch with people you know.  (During the talk I mentioned how I use Facebook to do this when someone asked how to find the time to keep in touch.)
  • Schedule 30 minutes a month to send personal emails to your contacts.
  • Get on "the list."  There is always a list.  Find it and get on it.

Want more? I definitely recommend picking up the book.  I'll be reading it myself, since Patty was kind enough to give us all a copy.  There is much more detail and lots of great stories in there, so it's totally worth the purchase.


Basu said...

I suggest Cal Newport's Study Hacks for similar stuff on making yourself less busy. Also Keith Ferrazzi's Never Eat Alone is a good read on connecting and looking good. Not the ebst writing, but good perspective and ideas, it's certainly had an effect on my life.

Gail Carmichael said...

Cool! Thanks for the links!

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