People often reach out to me for career advice.

People see how much content I create, the passion and joy I bring to the work I do, and reach out to learn how I got here, or ask advice about how to navigate from where they are to where they want to go.

Lately, it’s been happening more frequently.

So, I felt like writing about it.

Universal Career Advice

I always find it interesting when people ask me for career advice. I can’t help but think how my circumstances are usually so unlike many of the people who reach out to me.

  • I work for myself
  • I’ve only had a handful of jobs, and only one of those did I make it to two years
  • I have a reasonable safety net from an inheritance after my mother passed away

Those factors and privileges alone would make my situation significantly different from many of the people I speak to about their career. But beyond that…

As a middle-aged, white, cisgender man, who grew up in a wealthy suburb, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees and no student debt, I’ve had fewer barriers than many other people face.

✔️ Yes, I’ve had struggles.

✔️ Yes, I’ve had my fair share of trauma.

✔️ Yes, I’ve had long periods of unemployment or underemployment, or times where my own company barely covered my needs.

But none of that would be systemic in nature.

Laying out the context

I think it’s important to start here because everyone’s career advice has a certain amount of subjectivity or survivor’s bias, despite much of the posturing to the contrary. This means that while I can empathize with the struggles other people may face, at the end of the day, my only personal experience is as a white guy, in a society built for white guys. In many cases, even as someone who looks for it, I probably didn’t even see the doors open up in front of me.

This is why I think everyone should take career advice lightly. This is even more important when reading an article in Forbes, or Fortune, and when consuming the humble rags-to-riches stories about billionaires.

So, now that I’ve laid that all out there, I thought I would document my biggest pieces of career advice for anyone that is interested. I like to think that it is widely applicable, but as described above, this can only be based on my own personal experience.

First, start with “the Frigga Rule”

“Everyone fails at who they’re supposed to be, Thor. The measure of a person, of a hero, is how well they succeed at being who they are.”

Frigga, From Avengers: Endgame

Shed the expectations of who you are “supposed to be” and lean into who you are. The dominant culture of work was designed by and for the benefit of white, property-owning, heterosexual, Christian, cisgender men. At most, that fits 15% of the population and that’s only if everyone who fits that description aligns with those values. Everyone else, well, we’re just along for the ride…but, not like a fun road trip with friends, but more like tied up in the trunk and not sure where we’re headed.

Whatever expectations the culture has placed upon you were not gifts, they were obligations disguised as generosity and truth. Much like the china set your parents gave you during their downsizing, you don’t need to keep it in your space.

Tear down the relics of the past and blaze your own path. Figure out who you are and what you want your life to be about, and let that guide you.

Apply for a job at a new company, get a new title, have a resume gap, ask for and take the accomodations you need, take your sick days and vacation days, don’t work harder than you’re paid for — unless you want to for reasons that serve your own passions or career goals.

Remember, it’s YOUR career.

Next, find your people

There are so many people who will tell you directly or indirectly that you are not enough.

  • Seek out those who remind you that you are enough as you are.
  • Find those who will celebrate your wins.
  • Find those who will sit with you when you’ve been knocked down.
  • Find those who care about what you care about.

Surround yourself with them and build the most amazing network!

After that, find your superpowers

Midjourney Prompt: the moment you discover your superpowers, marvel comic style

In my experience, I’ve found my enjoyment comes from leaning into the things I’m good at or gifted at, rather than trying to muscle through work I find needlessly difficult or frustrating. I don’t subscribe to the belief that we should push boulders up steep hills. After all, I’m not Sisyphus.

That said, when I do try to overcome a weakness, I make sure it’s something I care deeply about or that serves my purpose and goals.

There are three types of superpowers to look for:

  • The ones you know about yourself
  • The ones others see in you
  • The ones you find along the way

Look for the things you’re unusually good at, listen and take note when people offer you praise and acknowledgement, and be open to changing course when you discover a new ability.

Then, start playing your own game

Once you know who you are and what you want your work to be about, you’ve found your people, and you’ve identified your superpowers, you’re ready to start molding your career.

This part will probably suck for a while. It might suck for a few months. It might suck for longer. It all depends.

My career sucked for my entire 20’s. It disguised itself as being amazing throughout my 30’s while still mostly sucking. Only now, in my 40’s, has it (mostly) ceased sucking and started being genuinely awesome.

So, now that you’re probably really excited to start playing your own game, here’s what to do…

Find things you want to change

Through the entire time my career sucked, I kept looking for things to make better. Sometimes that meant solutions to problems, sometimes it meant ways of behaving in different spaces. No matter what, it was a constant string of little missions.

Example: if you have an asshole boss that makes your team miserable, there are a few things you could change:

  • You could change your job
  • You could try to manage upward and make them a better boss
  • You could just try and take their job and do it better, without being an asshole

Example: if you are really good at your job and have an interesting body of work but don’t feel you’re getting to attention, accolades, or upward mobility you deserve, there are a few things you could change:

  • You could change your approach to self-promotion
  • You could find an organization that appreciates you more
  • You could change where you put your energy to start building a parallel path outside of work

Change is a constant. Don’t just react to it, initiate it.

Finally, always build your own personal brand

This is possibly the only piece of advice in this post that I think is truly universal. Whether you work for others or for yourself, never lose sight of the fact that you are always working for yourself.

The best time to start building your personal brand was at the start of your career. The next best time is now. In 2023, you should be able to walk in the room of an interview or sales meeting with your name on a sheet of paper and the ability to say two magic words: “Google me.”

There is no greater way to communicate who you are and what you are about then by immortalizing it through a body of work that is searchable, findable, and consumable.

  1. You should have your own website.
  • Build it on (starts at $9 per year)
  • Build it on WordPress (starts at free and goes up from there)
  • Build it on Squarespace

Ideally, you want the ability to publish content on your site but for now, don’t sweat where you put it, just get started. This is one of the most important things you can do for your personal brand.

2. You should create content that shares your unique perspective

Do something so that when people want to know your perspective, you can point them to an asset that you spent the time creating. I have more than 1,300 blog posts, around 300 podcast episodes I’ve hosted, dozens of videos, and guest appearances on podcasts, blogs, and in the media. Whatever I say about myself in any given moment is only strengthened by this body of work. I started doing this in 2008. It doesn’t happen overnight.

3. You should have some social media profiles.

  • Use this to create an easily discoverable profile that speaks to your positioning
  • Use this to amplify the content you’ve created
  • Use this to find more of your people

My final piece of advice about this is to never stop working on your personal brand. It doesn’t matter what job your get or company you start, never stop.

Building your personal brand is something that should continue until the day your career ends.

What’s your advice?

That’s my advice, so now, I want to hear yours. Sound off in the comments. If this resonated with you, share it with someone that would benefit from reading it.

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