Vistage Research Center

Get actionable, data-driven insights and expert perspectives from our global community of CEOs and thought leaders. Led by Joe Galvin, Chief Research Officer

Six bits of career wisdom I wish I could tell my 23-year-old self

Career wisdom

Millions of new graduates are entering the workforce, eager to make their marks on the business world. They’re entering a promising labor market with jobless claims levels at their lowest since 1973. They’re armed with passion, polished resumes and the best educations academia can provide, yet few know what they really are getting into.

Some lessons simply cannot be taught in a classroom – only through experience. If I could go back in time, this is the career wisdom I’d share with my 23-year-old self:

1) What business leaders really want are people who can get ahead of the curve and anticipate. It’s a big differentiator and accelerator in a career — anticipating opportunities, anticipating challenges and anticipating changing dynamics.

2) You become what you think about. Often, new graduates think they must have everything figured out. Not so. You don’t have to have everything figured out, and you don’t have to have a perfect plan. It’s going to be a long, winding road. Just have a clear idea about what success means to you personally and then use that vision as a compass to remain focused on your ultimate goal. The key is to make decisions that align with your concepts of personal success and to just keep making progress.

3) There can be more than one right answer to a problem. Always thinking there’s a “bad” and a “good” answer creates pressure and can cause indecision. I used to believe that every decision I made was either right or wrong, but I have changed my thinking about this over time. I remember times when I had made what I considered to be “lucky” decisions that turned out to be “right.” But it wasn’t that I made the right or the wrong choices. It was because I invested time and effort in what I really believed was best, and that ultimately made it the right decision.

4)  Get perspectives from others. But really listen, rather than search for confirmation bias. Looking for confirmation can lead to a myopic mentality. Be open to different ways of thinking and other feedback. But don’t lock yourself into committing to a suggestion either. Take good feedback, think about it and then make your decision.

5) When things sound too good to be true, they probably are. Believe in the value of hard work and that hard work always pays off. I’ve seen many people my age whose careers didn’t go where they wanted because they were always looking for the quick hit and they flamed out. Those shortcuts end up sending these false expectations that things can just happen overnight. And when they don’t, people get discouraged.

6) Don’t make assumptions. So many disconnects and miscommunications happen because people assume rather than ask for clarification. When I was in sales, I wanted to know what people were really thinking. So, I just asked for confirmation and clarity. It was amazing how many things surfaced from asking instead of assuming. Everyone has experienced the feeling in a discussion when they don’t know something and they should ask for explanation, but they don’t. That’s when they assume. Just ask!

This article was previously published by ACBJ.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
One comment
  1. Dan Kreis

    August 13, 2018 at 9:07 am

    Good Points, it is difficult to admit that I need to review these over and over. The idea if telling my 23 years old self is good but these 6 points should be reviewed on a regular basis by all leaders.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Predefined Skins

Primary Color

Background Color

Example Patterns

demo demo demo demo demo demo demo demo demo demo

Privacy Policy Settings

  • Required Cookies
  • Performance Cookies
  • Functional Cookies
  • Advertising Cookies
These cookies are essential in order to enable you to move around the Sites and use its features, such as accessing secure areas of the Sites and using Vistage’s Services. Since these cookies are essential to operate Vistage’s Sites and Services, there is no option to opt out of these cookies.
These cookies collect information about how visitors our Sites, for instance which pages visitors go to most often. These cookies don’t collect information that identifies a visitor. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site, and will not be able to monitor its performance.

Cookies used

Visual Web Optimizer
These cookies remember information you have entered or choices you make (e.g. as your username, language, or your region), and provide enhanced, more personal features. They may also be used to provide services you have asked for such as watching a video or commenting on a blog. They may be set by us or by third party providers whose services we have added to our pages. If you do not allow these cookies then some or all of these services may not function properly.

Cookies used

Google Analytics
Gravity Forms
These cookies are used to make advertising more relevant to you and your interests. The cookies are usually placed by third party advertising networks. They remember the websites you visit and that information is shared with other parties such as advertisers. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.