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Job Seeker Blog

10 Unconventional Career Tips from an Unlikely CEO

Find the right balance

1. Expose Yourself
People entering the business world today are a commodity. They’ve gone to the same schools, taken the same courses, read the same books, and watched the same movies. Meanwhile, companies like mine are desperately seeking fresh minds to help them navigate massive cultural and technological changes. Where are they going to find them?

Growing up in a small town in Indiana, I led the middle-class life of Beaver Cleaver, until I was kicked off the high school tennis team. Then my real education began with a new curriculum of hustling, drinking, smoking, cruising, fighting, and sex. (I mostly examined the latter.)

Think of your life as a big magazine rack. When you’re standing in front of it deciding what to choose, resist the normal impulse to reach for People or Cosmopolitan. Instead, grab a copy of Game Informer, Inked, Guns and Ammo, or Bass Fisherman. Apply the same approach to movies, books, and people. You need to expose yourself. Whether you’re looking for your first job or your fifth, you’ll benefit from exploring unusual ideas and engaging unconventional individuals. If you experiment with your life, you’ll learn a lot about yourself and the rest of the human race.

2. Hit the Road
Americans are a sedentary lot. Only one out of three have a passport. When they travel, their favorite destination is Las Vegas, where they can photograph the Eiffel Tower, float in a gondola, and visit the pyramids. Less than 5 percent of US citizens travel overseas each year. As a result, they know less about the rest of the world than the rest of the world. This is a problem when every cell phone is made in China and every service call is answered in India.

Selling expensive leather wallets to unsuspecting tourists in Florence, Italy, I learned why Americans are afraid to travel. Foreign businessmen like my boss Enzo were just waiting to rip them off. In two-thirds of the world, bribery is an accepted business practice and bargaining is an art. You need to learn the regional ropes by studying or working abroad, because every employer is banking on international sales to fuel their future. If you want to compete in the global economy, especially in a melting pot like Miami, you’ve got to hit the road.

3. Ask the Captain
Knocking on a captain’s door opened a new world for me. While my contemporaries were graduating from college, I talked my way into a job as a cabin boy on a Norwegian tanker bound for Asian destinations I’d never imagined. In your career you will encounter “ships” that can transport you to unexpected places. You just have to figure out how to ask the captain.

Senior executives are intimidating to those just starting out. But they’re the ones who can have a real impact on your career. Stalk them in the hallways. Corner them at events. Drill them with smart questions. Ask for their help. If you want to be a captain tomorrow, you should start by asking one a question today.

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posted in: Blogging, EmployerNews, News

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