Top 10 Early Career Lessons

I’ve always loved the lessons from, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” which is a book of short essays written by Robert Fulghum. In the book, Fulghum simplifies how the world can be improved if we just use the rules we learned as children. The corollary for my business career has been, “All I Really Need to Know About Business I Learned Early.” Early on in my career, I managed the human resources function for a successful data center business headquartered in Denver, Colorado. For me, the experiences I gained there were as formative in my business career as kindergarten was on my life.

Following are my top 10 career lessons learned:

1. Wait to hire the best talent, even when it hurts in the short run.
2. Share companywide goals, metrics and progress with every level of the organization. Don’t hide poor or negative information. Instead, focus on your plans to get back on track.
3. Remember that your people are the source of your strength.
4. Quantify your goals and results.
5. Build an engine, so that your processes can continue on without you.
6. Charismatic leadership is key to great company culture.
7. Support the people who report to you, even when it’s time for them to move on.
8. Have fun with the “great game of business.” Also the title of a book our CEO and COO encouraged us to read and live by, “The Great Game of Business” by Jack Stack is about open-book management and is a reminder that business really is just a high-stakes game. Play it well and enjoy it!
9. Work hard, but don’t forget to play hard, too.
10. Never burn a bridge. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together. (While this lesson from kindergarten, it is also applicable in business.)

Much like life, we sometimes overcomplicate the challenges of business. Take a few minutes to go back to the basics and reflect on your top 10.