Wednesday, June 4, 2008

10 Things to Learn this Year

From Guy Kawasaki's blog, How to Change the World:
I’m on the campus of UCSB this week at family camp, and it's inspired me to blog about what students should learn in order to prepare for the real world after graduation. This is an opportune time to broach this subject because the school year is about to begin, and careers can still be affected.

First, take this little test about the state of your understanding of the real world right after you graduated from school.
Here are the top 5 things Guy thinks you should learn this year and my advice under them:
  • How to talk to your boss.
    • The importance is obvious here. If you are unable to communicate with your boss then you will hardly be recognized when promotion time comes around. Just communicating with your boss will not be sufficient so try quality communication. Quality communication could be not taking up his/her time when he/she is busy by asking for advice from others or working on the task yourself. Quality communication is making your point accurately and quickly, giving him/her status updates, and sending him/her interesting material through email. If you find an interesting article and send it to your boss stating you found the material useful and is applicable to a project you are working on, you will be recognized. Most importantly... do not treat your boss like he/she is better than you. Treat him/her with the utmost respect, but if you are unable to communicate to them because you are terrified then that gets you no where.
  • How to survive a meeting that’s poorly run.
    • Look at the bright side, "is there anything that I can get out of this meeting that I am not seeing?" If the meeting is incredibly boring to you maybe there are some underlying things that you can learn from. Ask yourself "what would I do if I was the presenter right now, or what wouldn't I do?"
  • How to run a meeting.
    • Prepararion is the largest thing here. Prepare, prepare, and prepare. Take your time when you speak, it is not a marathon. If you see that your audience is bored or not comprehending you, clarify your points and dig deeper. The purpose of you presenting is to teach your audience something. Think of it this way, they are there for you.
  • How to figure out anything on your own.
    • Study. If you don't understand a concept, break it into smaller pieces. What are the pieces that I understand? What are the pieces that I don't understand? Seek out the answers to the ones you don't understand and the puzzle will eventually fit together. Do your due diligence. Google the topic, read books on the topic, and ask your peers and superiors for help.
  • How to negotiate.
    • Negotiation falls into many aspects of life, asking someone to stay late to work, getting a pay increase, a promotion, not being able to go to dinner with your spouse. If you need help on a project or task, you have to negotiate with others into helping you. Start out with the problem or solution, and ask "what do I need to get there?" If you need help for x days from x people, who are you going to ask? Who has time? How am I going to convince this person if they are available? If they aren't available, can I convince them to help by working late? How? You should be asking yourself all of these questions to these scenarios and how you are going to answer them. Preparation again is the key to success in this area. Always remember that you can't willingly get people to do things by forcing them. Think about what they want and how you can help them when they help you. It's a two-sided scenario always and can usually be a win-win result if you put some time into thinking about it.

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