I’ve found over the years that in every company I’ve worked I tended to rise to be one of the best if not the best. Personally, I always wanted to be the best, and it meant something to me to achieve that goal. As I read more books and gained experience, I found that the following things time and again were the key contributors to outpacing many of my peers.
1) Study An Hour a Day
There are a few key motivational speakers that have influenced my perspective including Zig Ziglar, Jim Rohn, Brian Tracy and Tony Robbins to name a few. Brian Tracy in his blog One Hour Makes All The Difference mentions how Earl Nightingale once said that by just studying an hour a day you’d be at the top of your field within three years. When I heard this, I started doing it. In fact, when I first started, I wanted to go all out and studied 3 hours a day. In that routine I would get up and study an hour before work, I’d usually eat my lunch at my desk to study an hour and then one more hour after work. If you are still skeptical, I attribute this practice to how I eventually was hired by Microsoft.
Studying an hour a day doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re only considering Dynamics. It could be other related fields of study. The point is that this habit will slowly but surely continue making you better. While everyone else is out socializing or watching their favorite TV show, you will be gaining ground on all of them.
2) Seek Relevant Experience Opportunities
We all talk about years experience as if that is what matters. You could have had 20 years of project experience, and all you did was watch everyone else do the work. This is something I probe when I would interview candidates. The hard thing about experience is it tends to be more circumstantial. If you’re working for a customer that uses Dynamics, it may be hard to get a wide range of experience.
If you want to get experience get a job with a consulting firm. You’ll not only make more money but consulting is the fastest way to gain experience because you’ll be exposed to many more scenarios than working for a customer. In fact, if you ever wanted to work for Microsoft, it’s much more difficult getting in with only customer experience. The thing you’ll have to consider is that larger consulting practices tend to have the larger projects. This is where you’ll get the most exposure. The small boutique firms will tend to have small projects, fewer resources, and less discipline therefore not be as great. Also working with a larger practice means there’s a higher chance you may end up working as a sub-consultant under a Microsoft consulting project which can get you exposure.
3) Find People Better Than You To Be Mentors
I always look for people better than me in areas and lean on them to help me. My mentors have helped me jump over learning curves faster than I may usually have. They also have practical experience to help me start with the right perspectives. There’s something invaluable about gaining wisdom from everyone else’s mistakes.
Working at Microsoft for me was a new experience. To work for a company with all kinds of people with different areas of deep expertise was new for me. What was also new for me is meeting people who blew me away with their knowledge. I remember talking to one developer who was so advanced I had a hard time following him. I felt like a non-technical user trying to understand a developer talking about code. It was that day I gained a new respect and perspective on thinking too highly of myself.
The other great thing about mentors is since they are typically in higher positions and as a result have better connections. This can be helpful when the day comes when you’re looking to get a raise, promotion or even another job. It’s already helped me in my career efforts.
I can almost guarantee you that if you do these things diligently and consistently, you’ll get ahead no matter where you’re at in your career. If you ask why I can’t give you a guarantee… I’m a consultant. We’re not allowed to guarantee anything; just advise.