As I read more business books and meet more authors, I find it interesting that many have started out writing blogs or newsletter articles which, over time, gained steam and led to eventual published works. Author Beverly Jones successfully leveraged her career-advice-filled blog and newsletter, turning it into a great book called Think Like an Entrepreneur, Act Like a CEO. It includes 50 tips on how to stay afloat, bounce back and get ahead at work.
I spoke with Jones about the inspiration for her book, and she told me that she has always had an interest in how some people are able to adapt to workplace changes and career setbacks better than others. She wondered how some people always land on their feet and appear to be incredibly resilient. During her legal, business and coaching career, she has learned that the same characteristics that enable people to start and run successful businesses are also common in resilient professionals who are adept at making changes and adapting. In her opinion, many successful executives are thinking like entrepreneurs.
It turns out, she says, that many of the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs and CEOs translate well to salaried workers who have never made a payroll and don't aspire to the C-suite -- yet they want to have fruitful and meaningful careers.
Jones offered a few key tips on how to have a resilient career:
Continue to hone your listening skills.
While this may seem like basic stuff, Jones says that many of us have become so confident in ourselves that we have stopped properly listening to other people. She says that if she could give her clients one "super skill," it would be that they become terrific listeners. Put aside that voice in your head that wants to interject, and listen to what is being said and truly focus on the other people in conversations. Shut off the urge to be defensive and to start asking questions. She has found that truly resilient people in business have strong listening skills.
Learn to be conscious of and comfortable with feedback.
Jones explains that many people actually struggle with receiving praise, which is a key part of business success. Accepting praise properly is easy to learn: If someone praises your work, pause for a moment and then thank them for it. Focus on feeling grateful and then make sure the person who gave you the praise feels good about it too. If you shrug off praise or act awkwardly about it, then you may not get more of it.
Get over your fear of looking like a "suck-up."
Sometimes we are shy about congratulating our colleagues and co-workers, particularly if they are senior to us. She advises that we should always congratulate deserving people because, in most cases, there is very little chance that we will be perceived as a suck-up. Many straight shooting people have a disproportionate fear of looking like a butt-kisser even though many CEOs espouse giving positive feedback at all levels when it is authentic and deserved.
Even if you were born more cautious and pessimistic, Jones advises that people who are resilient in business tend to be optimistic - or at least learn to project a positive viewpoint. She calls herself a "cautious person" but has learned to choose to be more optimistic and push back against that negative voice in her head. Focusing on optimism naturally leads to actions that add value and improve things.
Jones's book also offers great tips (remember, 50 in total) on making career shifts, managing your boss, mentoring and handling career rejection among others. Pick up a copy online or your nearest bookstore. You can also check out her blog for ongoing tips and advice.
And if you want to write about business but don't know where to begin, consider starting a blog. It might just lead you to a publishing deal one day.