Life Lessons in my early adulthood
As someone now in my 30s, I've had plenty of time to learn a few basic life tips (applicable both to career and personal). Bebe and I spoke more about this in episode 4, but I wanted to summarize a few key learnings here:
- Be responsive: This was battered into my brain early on by my various professional services jobs (nothing one fears more than being unresponsive to a client), but even today I personally just find it to be a basic courtesy to respond to people in a timely manner. I mean, does anyone like it when it takes someone literal days to respond to a simple request or "how are you doing?" That's a big warning sign of a haphazard / uncommitted person (or organization) and something you should stay away from both professionally and personally.
If you're someone important to me, or if you're someone I work with making a reasonable request, it is a plain and simple courtesy for me to respond to you in a timely manner. You'll find that nobody at work will ever tell you "you responded too quickly" (in fact, much more likely to hear complaints on the opposite). And I personally don't believe in playing waiting games, with friends or when dating. If the other person wants to or judges you for responding too quick, chances are that's not someone worth having in your life. You aren't "cool" just because you waited to reply because that means you're busy. No, you just chose not to prioritize that message
- Humor will get you far: Everyone likes to laugh. Even if this means the meeting gets extended by a few minutes, nobody will think "that was a big waste of time" if something genuinely made them laugh. And people with a sense of humor tend to advance far - it's hard to meet leaders who don't have a good sense of humor. It makes them likeable, and likeability means advancing in life and winning friends/supporters.
I do wish I'd tried to develop the humor muscle earlier in life, so anyways take the chance to build on that and don't be afraid to crack jokes around those you know.
- Time spent together = greater fondness: I'm honestly convinced it doesn't matter how different or similar someone's personality is to you, the truth of the matter is the more you go through together with someone, the more fondness you will feel for them. Friendships take a total of 50 hours together to develop (as studied), which means that even if you don't like someone off the bat, chances are after 50 hours together you'll at least have a passing fondness and sense of comfort around them.
That's why offsites and activities to get to know your team are important at work too - even if you don't necessarily love working with someone, if you spend enough time with them you may come to understand how they tick and vice versa. and if the two of you find yourselves someday in a big meeting knowing nobody else, you'll naturally feel ally-ship with that person. so go out, meet people - dedicate as many hours as you can. Don't judge off the bat and be open to learning about them.
- Simpler & shorter is better: This is so important. nobody wants to read the 2-page long descriptive email. People want to learn quickly and easily, which you can probably sympathize with. Condense, simplify, cut out every excess word you can. and learn to do this both in written and verbal explanations. the best professors are those that break down complex concepts into easily digestible bits. This doesn't just apply to teaching, this is something everyone in the world appreciates. So learn to do this early and stop trying to show off with more.
- Assertiveness inspires followership: Take control - people love it when they don't have to make a decision. First off, it's easier to respond to something than to create it from nothing (the decision maker is taking that tough first step). Second, we're hardwired as humans to want to take instructions from someone who's confident. Third, no one is ever 100% sure of anything. So as long as you have a view, go ahead and state it and let others react / follow. Just think of the last time you were at a group dinner and someone took the lead to order apps for the table - generally most people would have felt a sense of relief from that responsibility.
- Where you spend your time is where you'll build expertise: Outsource the things that are not supporting your personal priorities (aka housework, mundane tasks, etc.) the more you spend time on something you want to craft expertise on, such as speaking skills, building interesting analyses, the better you'll get at that even if it's challenging in the beginning. So focus in on your time.
- Ask others more questions than they ask you: If you find yourself talking a lot in a setting, pause and readjust. Sure, you may be having a great time, but it's unlikely the other person is. Nobody wants to listen to someone droning on a topic, no matter how interesting you personally find that topic. Everyone wants to be an active participant in a discussion, and better yet have people be curious about them.
So stop talking about yourself and intercept with a question for them. I always try to ensure the split of conversation is 50/50, or if it's someone I'm trying to impress, I make sure to ask them more questions than they ask me (so important for interviews). In fact, the most annoying interviews I've done have involved the candidate barely asking any questions of me or my role - it just makes me stop and question whether they're really interested in the opportunity.