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30 Essential Learnings to Guide Your Next Career Move

Editor's Note:

“I quit. Right now. Today.”

I remember standing across from my former boss on the day I resigned from the worst job I had ever had.

Without going into unnecessary detail, this job frequently pitted my personal values against the financial needs of the business. Not only did this stunt my career growth, but it also negatively impacted my mental health.

Even so, as I quit without giving a two weeks notice, I started having second thoughts…

  • What will my clients think? They’ll hate me for leaving them in the dust.
  • Will I ever get hired again with this stain on my resume?
  • Did I just waste a year of my life chasing a career I’m not suited for?
  • What if I end up working for another boss and business like this?

At the time, I didn’t have a mentor. Working for the same company for decades, neither of my parents had ever experienced a professional situation quite like this.

There was seemingly no one I could turn to for career advice that might challenge, restore, or validate my mindset, which could be summed up in one sentence: I NEED to get the heck out of here!

So I left and began my freelance journey despite having no real plan of action for how I'd pay for next month's rent.

Are you at a crossroads with your career?

Then you’ll love Master Mentors, based on the On Leadership podcast by Scott Miller. In today’s featured excerpt, I’m sharing a condensed version of the 30 essential learnings Scott has received on the podcast over the years from thought leaders including Trent Shelton, Nancy Duarte, Dave Hollis, Susan Cain, and more!

Ultimately, I’m glad I quit that job. After nearly two years of freelancing, I ended up in the role of my dreams and I feel like I’m on a career path that works for me.

But it sure would have been nice to have a book like Master Mentors in my hands with 30 insights from top business minds like Nely Galan’s advice to “hype your failures” and Seth Godin’s suggestion to understand the difference between being fearless and being reckless.

Read the rest of the blog post for quick career advice or shop the book in our store.

9780814432983

For busy professionals and lifelong learners seeking practical strategies for reaching new heights, Master Mentors distills 30 essential learnings from Seth Godin, Susan Cain, Trent Shelton, General Stanley McChrystal, and other top business minds and thought leaders of our time.

Meet Your Mentors

1. Gratitude

THE MENTOR

Nick Vujicic is a motivational speaker who inspires leaders through his experiences with tetra-amelia syndrome, which left him with no arms or legs.

Read more about Nick’s story in Master Mentors >> 

THE TRANSFORMATIONAL INSIGHT

Build mindfulness around the small things you take for granted (which actually may be big things) and practice more consistent gratitude in every area of your life.

THE QUESTION

What will it take in your life to transform your level of gratitude from I have to or I ought to to I get to?

***

2. Your Brand is How You Show Up

THE MENTOR

Stephanie McMahon is a retired professional wrestler and the chief brand officer for WWE.

THE TRANSFORMATIONAL INSIGHT

You’re always on camera . . . even when you’re not. How you look and act is your brand.

THE QUESTION

How much of a scripted “character” are you bringing into your leadership role? Is your motivation self-focused and inward-focused, as opposed to being other-focused and outward-focused?

3. Vulnerability

THE MENTOR

Dave Hollis is the former president of theatrical distribution for Walt Disney Studios. Now, he is a personal growth coach and New York Times bestselling author.

THE TRANSFORMATIONAL INSIGHT

First, recognize that vulnerability is an actual leadership competency, and that peers, colleagues, and direct reports crave relatability and transparency in their leaders.

Second, the higher you are in an organization, the more warped and blurred your view becomes of what’s really happening on the ground. Remember not only to focus “on” the business, but to work “in” the business as needed.

THE QUESTION

Stephen R. Covey wrote, “Be a light, not a judge. Be a model, not a critic.” What actions are required for you to demonstrate the vulnerability that allows those around you to do the same?

4. Emotional Agility

THE MENTOR

Susan David is a psychologist who specializes in the study of human thoughts, emotions, and motives.

THE TRANSFORMATIONAL INSIGHT

It’s human nature to confuse our emotions, opinions, and feelings with facts. The more aware you are of this challenge, the less you will do it. Both are legitimate, but they serve different purposes, so don’t conflate the two.

THE QUESTION

How do you find your own healthy balance between preparation (role-play) and impromptu (winging it) to ensure your next interpersonal engagement is less contentious and more rewarding and productive for both parties?

***

5. Peak, Trough, and Recovery

THE MENTOR

Daniel Pink worked in politics for much of his early career, spending the better part of two years as former vice president Al Gore’s chief speechwriter. Since quitting that job in 1997, he’s written several bestselling books on mindset and motivation.

THE TRANSFORMATIONAL INSIGHT

The more self-aware you are about your circadian rhythm, the better aligned you can be with everyone in your life—professionally and personally.

THE QUESTION

Have you identified the rhythm that leads your day? And can you create increased congruence with those high-leveraged demands that require your best thinking during your peaks and not your troughs?

***

6. Deliberate vs. Emergent Strategies

THE MENTOR

Karen Dillon is the former editor of Harvard Business Review magazine. She has also co-authored many New York Times bestselling books with Clayton Christensen.

THE TRANSFORMATIONAL INSIGHT

Effective leaders intentionally build a culture where multiple strategies can thrive interdependently and exercise the humility and confidence to see the signs when it may be time to adapt.

THE QUESTION

What will prevent you from moving off your deliberate strategy onto an emergent strategy? How will you know it when it’s time?

Real Readers of Master Mentors!

7. What's Your Motive?

THE MENTOR

Anne Chow is the first woman and first woman of color to become CEO of AT&T.

THE TRANSFORMATIONAL INSIGHT

Our motives are commonly driven by our mindsets and belief systems, and are manifested in our language and behavior. Become more mindful of how these are showing up in your life.

THE QUESTION

If you’re tempted to ask, “Where are you from?” what could you ask instead? But be sure to address your motives by addressing how you intend to use the information.

***

8. Keep a Compelling Scoreboard

THE MENTOR

Chris McChesney is the Global Practice Leader of Execution for FranklinCovey Co.

THE TRANSFORMATIONAL INSIGHT

People want to win in every part of their life—especially in their career. Provide a compelling, evergreen scoreboard that ensures clarity and builds engagement.

THE QUESTION

If it were illegal to use Excel or any bar-chart-generating software package, how would your scoreboard efforts look, track, and, more importantly, drive your desired behaviors?

***

9. Protect Your Brain

THE MENTOR

Daniel Amen is a psychiatrist and brain health expert who serves as the director of Amen Clinics.

THE TRANSFORMATIONAL INSIGHT

Just because you can’t see your brain doesn’t mean it’s not there. Invest as much energy caring for it as you do your heart, lungs, skin, and other more conspicuous organs.

THE QUESTION

Are you willing to become the family or community pariah in order to save a life? Dramatic? Yes. Accurate? Even more so.

***

10. Be on the Right Side of History

THE MENTOR

General Stanley McChrystal retired from the United States Army after many decades of military

service, culminating as commander of the United States military operations in Afghanistan in the mid-2000s. His military career ended rather abruptly when a Rolling Stone interview reported derogatory comments from him and his staff where they appeared to mock top civilian officials.

THE TRANSFORMATIONAL INSIGHT

You are leaving a historical legacy, whether you’re conscious of it or not. Make the choice to be on the right side of history now before you’re forced to be a casualty on the other side later.

THE QUESTION

If a historian were chronicling your decisions, what might you pause and do differently?

***

11. Radical Candor

THE MENTOR

Kim Scott coaches CEOs in Silicon Valley. She is the author of the perennial bestseller, Radical Candor.

THE TRANSFORMATIONAL INSIGHT

As a leader, move outside your comfort zone and discuss the undiscussables with your team members. Solicit feedback from them and give feedback in return. It’s likely the greatest professional gift they’ll ever receive.

THE QUESTION

How can you better recognize the blind spots of those around you, and with a balance of courage and consideration, provide them feedback for improvement? And further, how can you become more aware of your own blind spots and accept feedback from others on them?

12. Twist If You Can't Invent (And Even If You Can)

THE MENTOR

Dorie Clark is an executive education professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

THE TRANSFORMATIONAL INSIGHT

Not only is there no shame in twisting an original idea, there is tremendous value. In many cases, it will be better accepted in the marketplace than the original version.

THE QUESTION

Can you stop questioning your lack of genius and creativity, and instead focus your ability to twist an existing idea to fill or create a new niche opportunity?

13. The Servant Leader

THE MENTOR

Bob Whitman is Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer of FranklinCovey.

THE TRANSFORMATIONAL INSIGHT

Servant leadership doesn’t always literally mean serving. But sometimes it does.

THE QUESTION

How would you define and model servant leadership in every role of your life: parent, spouse, leader, colleague, committee member, and so on?

***

14. Rethinking Introverts and Extroverts

THE MENTOR

Susan Cain catapulted into the mainstream with her popular TedTalk “The Power of Introverts.” She writes books about introversion and leadership and is a co-founder of Quiet Revolution.

THE TRANSFORMATIONAL INSIGHT

People like people like themselves. And leaders can fall into the same trap. So be mindful not to dismiss or minimize those around you with personalities, communication styles, and proclivities that may differ from yours.

THE QUESTION

How can you recognize when your style—be it introvert or extrovert—might be lifting or limiting the potential contribution of others?

15. Self-Discipline

THE MENTOR

Ryan Holiday hosts The Daily Stoic podcast and the New York Times bestselling author of Stillness is the Key.

THE TRANSFORMATIONAL INSIGHT

We often think of self-discipline as being focused on doing something in particular. And although that certainly is true, exercising the self-discipline not to do something can exponentiate your creativity and productivity.

THE QUESTION

If you were to establish a greater degree of self-discipline tomorrow, is there one recurring habit that, if you could improve upon, modify, or even eliminate, would have a disproportionately positive impact on both your confidence and your ability to progress something enormously important to you?

16. Hype Your Failures

THE MENTOR

Nely Galan is the former President of Entertainment for Telemundo. Now, she is an independent producer.

THE TRANSFORMATIONAL INSIGHT

The most successful and influential people achieve that stature not just by experiencing failure but hyping their failures for the benefit of others.

THE QUESTION

Which failure of yours, if revisited and publicized, could transform someone else’s confidence into their own successful journey?

***

17. Extreme Ownership

THE MENTOR

Leif Babin is a former U.S. Navy SEAL officer, co-author of #1 New York Times bestseller Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win.

THE TRANSFORMATIONAL INSIGHT

When your team members see you own not just the successes, but the outright failures with no finger-pointing, you set the only acceptable standard.

THE QUESTION

Ask yourself: Do I demonstrate Extreme Ownership across every area of my life—professionally and personally?

***

18. Choose Your Identity

THE MENTOR

Stedman Graham is an educator and businessman, as well as an author. He is also Oprah Winfrey’s long-time partner.

THE TRANSFORMATIONAL INSIGHT

Cease fulfilling the identity foisted upon you by others and, instead, create the identity that best leverages your passions, talents, and dreams. Be the version of yourself you want to be.

THE QUESTION

How will you create the identity that helps you pursue your “extraordinary” thing?

***

19. Be a Multiplier and Not a Diminisher

THE MENTOR

Liz Wiseman is the CEO of the Wiseman Group, a leadership research and development firm headquartered in Silicon Valley, California.

THE TRANSFORMATIONAL INSIGHT

Multiplying leaders possess not only the self-awareness to recognize when they could be accidentally diminishing others but create and allow space for others to feel smart around them.

THE QUESTION

Do you tend to be the genius in the room or the genius maker of others? How can you become more multiplying and less diminishing in your interactions?

***

20. The ONE Thing

THE MENTOR

Jay Papasan is the vice president and executive editor at Keller Williams Realty Inc, the world's largest real estate company

THE TRANSFORMATIONAL INSIGHT

Achieving any level of goal necessitates that you follow both a systematic and pragmatic approach that, ultimately, results in you doing something different . . . right now.

THE QUESTION

Did you skip the exercise above? If you did, not only are you a horrible goal setter, but you’re never going to accomplish your Someday Goal . . . because you don’t even know what it is. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200. Go back and do the exercise.

21. Fearless vs. Reckless

THE MENTOR

Seth Godin is an author, entrepreneur, and teacher of topics including marketing, leadership, management, and business.

THE TRANSFORMATIONAL INSIGHT

Create a heightened understanding of when your fearlessness impacts people beyond yourself and results in diminishing them and even your mutual relationship.

THE QUESTION

When you find yourself confusing these two concepts, ask yourself, How do I want to show up? How do I want to be remembered? How do I want to make the other person feel?

***

22. The Power of Relationships

THE MENTOR

Todd Davis is FranklinCovey’s Chief People Officer and Executive Vice President.

THE TRANSFORMATIONAL INSIGHT

Resist falling into the trap of believing that your organization’s most valuable asset is the collection of your people. Your most valuable asset is your culture, built and defined by the relationships between your people.

THE QUESTION

Confront reality. Are you just repeating what sounds convenient regarding the power of relationships, or do you truly believe and act in a way that supports their value in your organization and overall life?

***

23. Clarify Your Message

THE MENTOR

Donald Miller is the CEO of marketing company, StoryBrand, and a New York Times bestselling author of titles including StoryBrand and Business Made Simple.

THE TRANSFORMATIONAL INSIGHT

If your customer cannot find themself squarely in your messaging, it’s frankly useless—for both of you.

THE QUESTION

It likely feels counterintuitive, but are you capable of putting your business needs aside when creating your messaging—to bring your client’s business needs front and center?

***

24. Balancing Efficiency with Effectiveness

THE MENTOR

M.J. Fievre is a Haitain writer and educator who signed her first book deal for a young adult novel at the age of 19.

THE TRANSFORMATIONAL INSIGHT

Be mindful that even a strength such as efficiency in tasks can be a weakness if not bridged into effectiveness in relationships.

THE QUESTION

Have you folded your relationships into your to-do list, then hit the “Puree” button?

***

25. Disrupt Yourself

THE MENTOR

Whitney Johnson is the CEO of WLJ Advisors and one of the 50 leading business thinkers in the world as named by Thinkers50.

THE TRANSFORMATIONAL INSIGHT

Exercise the boldness to understand where you are on your career journey and when it’s time to disrupt yourself before you are inevitably disrupted by external forces or people.

THE QUESTION

Where are you on your own three-year itch? Are you confident and competent enough to disrupt yourself and step over to the next ladder before it disappears? Are there skills you need to develop to become relevant and valuable enough to stick the landing?

***

26. The Power Perspective

THE MENTOR

Trent Shelton is a former football wide receiver. Now, he serves as the founder and president of a Christian-based non-profit organization, RehabTime.

THE TRANSFORMATIONAL INSIGHT

Harness the emotional and intellectual agility to carefully choose your response when an outside situation or influence changes beyond your control.

THE QUESTION

Can you turn the page when you (inevitably) face disappointment, unfulfilled expectations, or outright violations in your life?

***

27. Prolific Quality Output

THE MENTOR

Brendon Burchard is a high performance coach and author.

THE TRANSFORMATIONAL INSIGHT

It’s easy to fall into the trap of measurement by volume or quantity. Instead, what differentiates successful and influential people is the quality of their output achieved through a relentless focus on the few necessary things that must get done.

THE QUESTION

Are you able to exercise the discipline to resist an array of opportunities and distractions that may validate your ego, and instead focus on the PQOs that could transform your brand?

***

28. Pulling the Plug

THE MENTOR

Stephen M. R. Covey is the co-founder and CEO of a company called CoveyLink Worldwide and former President and CEO of Covey Leadership Center

THE TRANSFORMATIONAL INSIGHT

Seeing past the “fog of war” to exercise integrity in a key moment of choice may mean pulling the plug now for the longer-term win.

THE QUESTION

What’s on your horizon, personally and professionally, that you need to proactively decide if you’re moving forward with full conviction, or if you should pause, reassess the opportunity, and perhaps pull the plug?

29. The PowerPoint Plague

THE MENTOR

Nancy Duarte is an expert in presentation design and principal of Duarte Design.

THE TRANSFORMATIONAL INSIGHT

PowerPoint is not the problem. Visuals aren’t the problem. In fact, both are often quite useful to communicate a compelling vision. It’s the sequence of building a deck as the component of designing your presentation that’s the problem.

First, structure the conversation by following the “what is and what could be . . . what is and what could be” framework. Then decide what visuals, if any, should be created to best drive home your point.

THE QUESTION

Are you willing to pay the price to know your subject so well, and bring it to life with your own storytelling skills, that you don’t need a presentation crutch?

30. Knowing Your Story

THE MENTOR

Eric Barker blogs about the science behind life hacking on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

THE TRANSFORMATIONAL INSIGHT

Stop your story. Stop the tape. Whose story are you living? Yours, or Mr. Wiley’s?

THE QUESTION

Are you willing, tonight, to put down Master Mentors and go into your kitchen (I don’t care what you’re wearing) and grab a whisk, or a wooden spoon, or a spatula? Doesn’t matter. Tell yourself your story. Alone. In the dark. With nobody listening. Out loud. Uncensored. You may be on the cusp of starting the next chapter in your own story.

Want to read more? Get the book!

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Renee Evenson

RENEE EVENSON is a small-business consultant specializing in workplace communication and conflict resolution strategies. She is the author of several books, including Powerful Phrases for Effective Customer Service and Customer Service Training 101.

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