Physician Dispensing

5 Career Thoughts for High Potentials

YesI was recently invited to discuss elements of my career with a “Strategic Career Management” class at Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI). Thanks Prof. Marietta Stalcup! I had a great time!

After the brief summary of my winding career, we got into an interesting Q&A on corporate vs. entrepreneurial work environments, transitioning to an entrepreneurial venture, networking, the role of leadership as it relates to strategic career management and parting advice for this group of high potentials. I wanted to share some of the more interesting discussion points with my friends on LinkedIn.

  1. Career-wise, there are really no right or wrong answers. Your path is your path and will take you exactly where you are supposed to be. Are some jobs better than others? Sure. But like education, relationships and exercise, you will get out of your job/career pretty much what you put in. Don’t sweat the long term, focus on the present and make it the best you can every day.
  2. Good networking is like a good exercise program, you do a little every day. Don’t make the mistake of only reaching out to people when you need something. Tools like LinkedIn, email and the telephone work wonders for building and maintaining bridges to your connections. Use them every day. Also, don’t make the mistake of only reaching out to people who you feel can provide immediate assistance or benefit – some of the best help comes from the most unexpected places.
  3. Say “Yes!” Remember the Jim Carey movie, Yes Man! ? In it, his character begins a program of saying “yes” to everything – skydiving, foreign language classes, risky loan approvals at his bank – of course, pandemonium ensues. However, there is a lesson here. It is so easy to say “no”. No, I don’t want to go to that dinner. No, I don’t have time to speak at the retiree event over at Bob Evans. Sorry, I’m not interested in hearing about the cool product you developed to remove dirt from dog paws. When you say “yes!” you open yourself to positive energy and new possibilities. I’m not suggesting the craziness of the movie, I’m simply suggesting that you look for reasons to say “yes” more often in a world where it is so much easier to say “no”.
  4. Understand your thresholds and take risks frequently. We all have wildly different levels of risk tolerance in all aspects of our life. Some of us are risk averse financially. Some of us are risk averse from a relationship perspective. Some see risk in so many elements affecting our health and environment. That is normal. When it comes to your career, be ready, and willing, to take some risks. Especially early on. We need to assess risk as it relates to our situation and make appropriate decisions for ourselves. However, avoiding perceived risk simply because it is, uh, risky is a surefire way to miss great opportunities. Be ready to push your envelope and walk down that road less traveled. Many of the paths to the corner office, start-up venture, new not-for-profit etc. were very, very unlikely.
  5. Every role can be a leadership role. At a few points during our evening, we were contrasting entrepreneurial environments with more corporate environments. My friend Dr. Joerg Schreiber brought up some great points on leadership styles as they relate to transitions and effectiveness within organizations. His points provided a great contrast for smaller versus larger organizational environments. In my companies, we have less specialization and require our team members to have broader responsibilities. This isn’t a good or bad thing, it is simply a reflection of the size and maturity of the organization. The point I made was that regardless of the type of organization in which you work, you need to look at the leadership opportunity in every role. You may or may not have direct decision making authority, but you will always have opportunities to lead and influence. There is always a choice and it is yours when it comes to how you invest in a role and what you make it.

Thank you to the entire class for making the evening fun with good questions, lively discussion and open minds!

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