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First off, I would like to thank Mike and Mark for this great resource. I love the Manager Tools approach - for a young person like me it's like you're handing pure nuggets of gold in each and every podcast.

As someone with much less experience than most of the MT audience, I would like to ask:

If you had to name three people/activities/courses/jobs that you feel had the greatest impact in your professional career, what/who would they be?

What advice did you find to be useful when you were starting up your careers?

quenfis's picture

I'll bite.

First and foremost is my education. Nothing glamorous, B.S. in Communications. Every course I ever took gave me the knowledge and abilities I have needed day in and day out for successful management. Especially in the verbal and written communication areas of my job. I have no idea where I would be without my college education.

Second is my current boss. He has been a very patient and encouraging manager. He is a firm believer in succession planning. As a High C with High D, and him as a High D with High I, that dynamic has made our operation a top performer for the past two years.

Lastly is Manager Tools. By far the best advice, instruction and overall knowledge I have gained in the past five years. I honestly feel that this site and the podcasts from M & M have made vast improvements in my managerial style.

My strongest advice right now is to listen to every podcast on this site, and work to interact with those on the forums. Pay good attention to your directs, peers and managers. Use O3's, Feedback and Coaching. Take the DiSC profile. It will open you eyes to better ways to communicate.

guvnor2000's picture

Go on then:

After leaving school with very little in the way of qualifications I would say the Management Qualification my employer urged me to go for (Certificate in Management) leading to a MInstLM Affiliation.

My current boss - ex army - a lot of people seem to be afraid of him, however they have never had the joy of working with him. Tells it how it is and never holds you back.

(I hope this passes) My current employer - been with them 8 years, worked my way through the ranks - they give you plenty of opportunity you just have to have the passion to go for it.

juliahhavener's picture

Education is definitely a plus, even without my college degree, the coursework I've done and my written and verbal communication skills are one of the things that has really opened doors along the way.

Manager Tools: I cannot ever say enough how much MT and M&M give with this free podcast. The forums I've found to be fun and informative. I find myself stopping by between work and homework for a break, to see how others deal with problems that come up (which inevitably becomes valuable to me at some later time), and to offer my own viewpoints on different questions and concerns.

aspiringceo's picture

I think my greatest influnces are similar to the previous replies.
1) My family for always encouraging and supporting me and for being a constant sounding board.
2) My first boss when I joined the NFP sector and who interestingly enough is, 7 bosses later my current boss, I learnt (am learning) more from her than from anyother employer or course
3) This forum and M&M's podcasts.

Edmund

bflynn's picture

1) my interests - I got into computers because they were cool and I liked them. I enjoy the challenge.
2) Money. Maybe its a little shallow, but having a higher salary was a partial driver of what put me where I am today (IT consulting).
3) Chance. I happened to be in the right places at the right time and/or not in the right places and time.

Brian

sundarrajan's picture

Here are my top 3 factors

1) Education
2) Support from parents & their non discouraging nature helped me to try a lot things which gave me courage.
3) My mentor/ Boss

rwwh's picture

[quote="bflynn"]
3) Chance. I happened to be in the right places at the right time and/or not in the right places and time.[/quote]

I used to think this was a major factor in my life, until I heard:
[quote]"Chance favors the prepared mind."
-- [i]Louis Pasteur[/i]
[/quote]

bflynn's picture

[quote="rwwh"][quote="bflynn"]
3) Chance. I happened to be in the right places at the right time and/or not in the right places and time.[/quote]

I used to think this was a major factor in my life, until I heard:
[quote]"Chance favors the prepared mind."
-- [i]Louis Pasteur[/i]
[/quote][/quote]

Chance is what I call external influences, they could be unknown. For example, when I was 17, my parents met the founder of a now very famous computer company. My mother bragged about my computer skills and I was indirectly offered an interview. There were less than 10 employees at the company at the time; today there are over 10,000 and this company regularly appears in all major business journals. My mother decided I was too young and did not mention it to me until years later.

There have probably been dozen of other situations, both good and bad over the years. Has anyone just happened to call the hiring manager right after he said he would hire the next reasonable person that he met? Or sat on a plane next to someone who became a friend? Or met someone because you decided to wear particular clothing at a certain time? Chance is external.

Preparation is taking control of external factors, so Chance does [i]favor[/i] the Prepared Mind. But, there will always be external events that you cannot control.

Brian

misskaz's picture

1. My previous manager - Not because he was good, but because he was horrible. My experience in that job had a very real impact on my view of the working world, and my understanding of what is important to me in my career. Namely, I learned that while some people can handle a high-stress job where you are just thrown in the deep end and berated for mistakes, I cannot. I need a supportive environment that rewarded me, even if it was just verbal praise for a job well done. Most importantly, I learned not to put up with a terrible situation - leaving a bad job is always an option.

2. My current manager - I found that supportive environment that I need. My boss has been an incredible mentor and leader. She is the reason I earned an employee of the year award after only my first year with the company, and got a promotion after only two.

3. My family - My parents and my boyfriend have been incredibly supportive while I stumbled my way to finding my career.

pneuhardt's picture

I was a management puppy a long time ago, so I can't cite MT as something that helped me along. Here is what did have that helped me become the manager I am today.

1. The first CIO I had as a manager was a very tough, EXTREMELY high-D woman that intimidated most who came in contact with her, even other high-D personalities. The first lesson I learned from her was that it was okay to say no to an executive so long as I could back it up with a reasoned argument supported by facts. Having an alternative was a real plus. "Do A!" "We can't do A because of B, C and D which will cost X, Y and Z ato remedy, and we don't have budget to support that. However, we can do A-prime which meets all but one of your objectives and costs X/2. What would you like?" I might not always prevail that way, but I would always be respected and heard by any reasonable executive who actually deserved the position s/he holds.

2. Mentors, mentors, mentors. I have had 3 situations over the years that I can point to and say "this was a true mentor relationship." Each was far above me on the corporate food chain and yet I managed to build good relationships with them. Each of my mentors taught me components of that one subject you never learn in school: how the real world really works. No, you don't learn that in school, even in graduate school. No, really, you don't and I don't care how many degrees the guy who told you that lie possesed. In school you had professors of theory. A mentor is a professor of practice. At age 44 and with 20 years since my first managerial responsibilities, I am about to ask someone to become my fourth mentor using the concepts I heard in an MT podcast. You are never too old to learn.

3. Being too dumb to know I couldn't do certain things and then going ahead and doing them anyway. One of my favorite phrases during my early days of my career was "Well, let's give it a shot and see what happens." As I have aged, it is harder and harder to keep this spirit alive, but I remind myself that I have achieved things in my professional life that should have been impossible but were not simply because I didn't realize they were beyond me. (For years, I kept a crow feather on my desk to remind myself that if Dumbo could fly, so could I.)

Mark's picture

West Point
LTC Ed Teixeira - the right way
Procter & Gamble
Roger Cameron - the wrong way
My family and a couple of very close personal friends
My faith
My partner

Manager Tools - my part of it - is a RESULT of these enormous influences.

There is a Bible verse, from Mark: For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

Imagine learning what your soul IS, and then giving it to the world.

Pretty sweet, folks, pretty sweet.

Mark

pneuhardt's picture

Mark brings up a powerful point in his list of influences, and that is the power of a counter-example.

Failures (and bad examples) are at least as educational as successes are. Often, they are even more instructional. Either way, when learning practical skills it is as important to learn what NOT to do as it is to learn what to do.

I've had or been around many bad managers in my career, and I've learned from every one of them what not to do. I guess I've been fortunate enough that I've never had one so bad that I've learned so much of what not to do that I can say they were one of the major influences on my career.

drinkcoffee's picture

1. My father.
2. All the bad bosses I've had in my career -- per pneuhardt's point: terrific examples of what NOT to do.
3. Manager Tools.

asteriskrntt1's picture

Only 3???

1. Going trough my MBA with an amazing group of people

2. Going through a non-dot com blaze out with an incredibly strong leader/mentor

3. Learning from all the bad bosses :)

4. Meeting 3 diverse mentors

5. Going through an acquisition (nothing like reporting to 4 managers in 4 different divisions) and watching everyone go into CYA and job preservation mode

6. Deciding to do a minimum of an hour of personal development/faith/managerial learning every day (yes, my Ipod has changed my life)

magnum's picture

Thank you all for your replies!

I think Confucious expressed the idea that bad examples are as important as good ones very concisely:

“When you see a good person, think of becoming like her/him. When you see someone not so good, reflect on your own weak points.”

Other than that, I think some key ideas that arise from this thread are:

1. Education does matter - it is the basis for the work of most managers
2. Good and bad examples of doing things are very important in developing, so observing as many different styles and approaches of management can prove invaluable. Also, mentors!
3. Manager Tools ROCKS!
4. Support and encouragement from others is important
5. Aiming at transforming your interests into strengths
6. Chance - As Brian Tracy said it, "Luck is when preparation meets opportunity!"
7. Attidute - Doing and trying new things anyway, and learning/growing in the process

MattJBeckwith's picture

Great forum topic Magnum. One thing that I will add, at least for me, is the power of failure and making mistakes. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got from a manager years and years ago could be summed up today with Mark's phrase, "Fit in, fit in, fit in." Another best piece of advice was to not fear failure. When I was young(er) and dumb(er) I was afraid to screw up and I could have continued that trend except for a manager that told me to embrace failure.

themacstack's picture

For me I can sum it up this way.

1. Someone had to say "yes" to me the first time. Someone had to belive in me enough to take me on as a new greenhorn and give my my first job with my company. Thanks Joe C. in Texas!

2. Great mentors. I didn't know it then but I sure do know it now. There were a handful of senior leaders that cared enough about me to give me honest feedback (even though it hurt me at times) and cared enough to give advice on how to overcome some obstacles.

3. A progressive company. I am fortunate to work for a company that is in a very competitive and growing industry. We are expanding and with expansion comes opportunity. I have been blessed with the opportunity to seek out and secure these advancement positions.

Honorable mention --

* -- My ever supportive and patient wife and kids. I would be nothing without them.

* -- Electricity. Without it how would I fire up the laptop and a desklamp at 1:30am when an idea strikes

* -- My peers. I have had a opportunity to partner with some fantastic people along the way who have taught me about many things, but most of all have been a friend to me.

steven_martin's picture

The two biggest factors that have turned things around for me are:

1) Executive Coach - I have been working with a coach for the last 9 months and she has really moved me along. It is amazing how working with her developed my awareness of a number of things I was doing was limiting if not hurting me.

2) My Current Manager - She is the most results oriented manager i have worked for. Working with her has forced me to focus on setting realistic deadlines and ensuring that I meet these commitments.

cwatine's picture

[b]1. My parents :[/b] they gave me love and had a total confidence in me so I was totally confident in the future. Both of them were issued from mothers who were owning their own companies (very rare at that time ! Just after WW2) : it gave me the will to run a company, one day.

[b]2. My wife and children.[/b] My wife gave me all the support and makes our family so strong, even with a hardworking husband ! (she is a strong "S" !). My children are fantastic people : I admire each of them 4 (my third is a very heavily handicaped little girl and she teaches so much about living in the present, supporting hard things with a smile, giving love without expecting return).

3. A little number of [b]very close friends.[/b]

4. The [b]founders[/b] of each of the companies I have bought. They are very different people (a high "S" and a high "I"). But I did a "part of the road" with each. And each was clever enough to let me do things my way, just giving me their opinion. And letting me correct my way if I wanted.

[b]Well maybe "5." will be MT ? [/b]Too soon to say !
I have always been bumping against this question : "People are the most important resource in a company. So you need to have them work in the best direction. So how can I help achieving the company goals, without manipulating them which is against my personal beliefs ?"
In my management, I was spending too much time on judgment and not enough on action.
I also wanted to find a method that could be transferable to my managers (leverage).

[b]Well MT just looks like the perfect answer to my questions ...[/b]

rikt's picture

There is so much, I will try to stick to three:

1.[b]The Military[/b] - Somehow getting repeatedly kicked in the face, being cold, wet, lonely, and miserable, taught me to never quit, there is always tomorrow.
2. [b]Failing[/b] - My first attempt at running a business, losing everything, working 3 and 4 jobs to make my comeback, and being patient for the next job to come along. There is something about making $150k one year to $18k the next, then scrubbing toilets, working as an EMT, Best Buy - yes best buy, dispatching, and firefighter, puts everything back in to perspective. You will work harder when you get your next opportunity.
3. [b]Family[/b] - Knowing that my Dad never gave up on his family, I too knew that I had to provide, make my children proud of me. This also gave me fuel to my fire to not disappoint them.

ok I have to do four:
4. [b]My Manager[/b] - An amazing man that has taught me so much about the cerebral aspects of being a manager. "This isn't a football game Rik, it's a chess match."

Finally, I look back and kick myself for not finishing college right out of highschool, but the challenge of the Military, diving and playing tough guy won over, I kick myself again when I was offered to go to NAPs and hopefully on to the Academy. Youthful decisions gone awry.

I have figured out though that all of my success, all of my failures, followed by my success has made me the manager I am today and more importantly the man I am today...

Wow that was pretty deep for so early. I am lucky I have the day off to reflect. :D

Mark's picture

One of the best posts here I've ever read.

There is something to be said for humble honesty. Most of us who have been fired, or have been through deep difficulties, do others a favor by talking about it openly.

He or she who has suffered is not only more appreciative of abundance but also more respectful of those who suffer. That makes the world a better place.

Mark

JohnGMacAskill's picture

For me, its not the things that 'changed my career', but have 'made my career'. I may have changed tack often, but it always takes me in one direction. And that's forward.

1. My grandfather; Papa. A man who believed he could achieve anything and was right. My best friend, ever.
2. My last boss, in a different organisation. Gave me my first big promotion and still supports me.
3. Jack Welch. Read the books, met him. Nuff said. My first business hero (after my Papa!).

I'm an 'inspirational pattern', so how could you expect me to stop now?

4. My current boss. Supports and has belief. I am doing exciting things at the moment and it is down to him I have the chance to do so.
5. Manager Tools...the podcasts.
6. The MT Effective Manager Conference; Mark, Mike and everyone else who worked and attended...most important two days...ever! Cheers.
7. My family...or it would all be for nought.

Great thread...I should be working not reflecting!

kklogic's picture

1. Knowing where I wanted to go and being open to the doors that opened along the way to get me there. I couldn't have possibly planned those opportunities.

2. Remembering when I'm interacting with higher ups that they are people too. Letting your nerves get the best of you around them hinders you.

3. Building my network. It gives you a line on great jobs that are out there. It's also a wonderful resource when you need to bounce ideas off of other folks.

MattJBeckwith's picture

I just noticed that I replied to this forum but didn't list my three.

I've enjoyed reading everyone else's so here are mine.

1. My mother! When I was five years old she taught me the meaning of demand and supply and of great service. I still carry her lessons of life, work and leadership with me.

2. I've had many jobs in my life, but only four notable managers - three good and one bad - that each had huge impact on me. They each cared about me a great deal and taught me about the importance of people and relationships and how to grow and learn.

3. My wife and my kids who allow me to better myself by being brutally honest when I need them to be and supportive always.

Of course, I have to add a 4th.

4. Manager Tools. Simply put, the best and the most manager training I have received is from Manager Tools.

chopper's picture

1. A previous Manager of mine. She believed in me and gave me the opportunity to lead.
2. Another previous Boss of mine. He believed in me and gave me the opportunity to lead.
3. A way huge executive at corporate I had met only once. He believed in me and gave me the opportunity to stay with the company and lead during a down-sizing/closing of our facility. My Manager & myself were the only 2 at that plant that remained with the company.

I made a desicion 9 years ago to become a brand. Here is my brand;
Believe in your team (your directs). They have the real power.
Earn their trust and respect by treating them like adults and really caring about them.
Get to know as many people as you can.
[u]Do the right thing[/u] - [b][u]always[/u][/b]. Even if it has negative consequences. You will succeed and you will get noticed.

Not sure if this is a direct answer or not...enjoy
Have a choppy day
-Chopper[i][/i]

ccleveland's picture

1. [b]My grandmother[/b], who made sure I had an excellent start in life in spite of my teenage self. In addition to financial help, she provided moral and emotional support when I most needed and least wanted it.

2. [b]Prof. J. Dixey[/b] (undergrad ~’93) and [b]Prof. C. Francis[/b] (graduate ’06) – the two professors who most influenced the way I think and perceive the workplace and the world in general. Critical thinking, awareness of available information, alternative perspectives, sensitivity to how our decisions effect others…these are the paths that these profs. most helped light the way.

3. [b]Growing up in the Midwest, moving to the East Coast[/b] and getting the best of both cultures. In the Midwest, positives are stressed; negatives are sometimes hidden and hard to see. Easterners tend to be much more direct and often focus on the negatives. This has helped my ability to see both weakness and strengths in myself and others.

Cheers,

CC

smallnetd's picture

1. My education. I left my house when I was 17 to go study abroad. Those two together, education abroad, opened my eyes to a much bigger world, ideas, cultures, and crazyness. I learned so much more that what I studied in class.

2. Previous bosses. The first one, very analytical and careful to detail. He is very academic in a way and a great mentor. The second one, very practical in nature and goal oriented. He challenged me in everyway pushing me to rethink my ideas, preconceptions, and how to be efficient. And my last and current boss, a micromanager that treats people like machines and is truely controlling in everyway (a true example of what not to do).

3. My wife. She is an intelligent and demanding person. She is tenacious, but people oriented. I truely admire her and since she knows me since college, she knows my weaknesses and strengths. She takes the liberty to tell me things exaclty how she sees them. Sometimes she's brutally honest. She keeps my feet on the ground.

4. Travelling. Since college and throughout my jobs, I have had the opportunity to meet people from every continent. The richness of cultures and ways of thinking goes a long way when adapting to new situations and to relating to people.

5. Languages. I know spanish, english, and some french. Language also affects the way you think. I would love to have more time to learn other languages, but for now I'll keep working on my french. Three languages is far too few.

jhack's picture

If I had to pick just three...

1. Discovering computer programming in the punchcard / Model 33 teletype era.
2. Choosing to become a manager because the scope of my approved proposal was far beyond what I could do by myself.
3. Losing it all and having to start over.

Of course my parents instilled core values, and my family is a great support...

tcomeau's picture

[quote="magnum"]
If you had to name three people/activities/courses/jobs that you feel had the greatest impact in your professional career, what/who would they be?
[/quote]

First, an undergraduate course: Philosophy of the Human Person. At a formative time in my life I had to think critically about what it meant to be human, and what responsibilities I had to other humans, without being able to rely on a religious foundation.

Second, an absolutely disastrous project. Technically, we did everything right. We had an excellent team, a senior executive sponsor, a clear set of requirements, picked a well-understood international standard, and built our system ahead of schedule and very close to budget. However, this was for a subsidiary of a regional phone company in the 80s who did not understand the emerging public data network environment, and the standard we picked was X.25, instead of TCP/IP. Because TCP/IP wasn't a "real" standard. By the end of the project it was clear that while we were going to deliver a great product, nobody was going to want it. People at the bottom were openly derisive of the CEO. The subsidiary basically folded, and we all lost our jobs. Only a handful found jobs with the parent company. The parent company merged with another company that already had a TCP/IP network. I learned a lot about the difference between technical and business success, and the warning signs for a company in the process of collapse. From below.

Third, a series of managers who have perservered. When the Hubble mirror problem was discovered, many voices suggested all was lost. A handful of leaders at the Institute refused to accept failure, and organized a set of recovery steps that included image restoration and corrective optics. Another manager showed me how to deal with a string of people problems, including a messy divorce, serious illness, sudden death, long drawn-out death, and suicide. Another senior manager kept pushing for process reform against a management culture that didn't want to hear it. She kept trying to do the right thing, both for the organization and for the people in it, right up until they walked her out the door. If nothing else, she taught me how to get fired with some grace and class.

[quote="magnum"]
What advice did you find to be useful when you were starting up your careers?
[/quote]
"Well, you can't sing and you can't dance, so you'd better find a real job."

I went into college as an Acting major, intending to get a minor in Computer Science. After the first semester I switched to a double major, and ultimately dropped the second major.

There's an important truth there, however: Find a career that plays to your strengths. It is important to find something you like, and it is also important to find something that likes you. I would have been constantly frustrated trying to find pure character work, and as much as I enjoyed being on stage, I did not have the versatility to get good parts on a regular basis. I'm really good at this technical stuff, and I think I'm getting better as a manager.

tc>

karaikudy's picture

4 Great Aspects
[b]
My Education[/b]:- Did something different as a Post Graduation, which helped me stand out in a crowd and moving forward to reach career heights.

[b]Great companies and Great boss[/b]:- All 22 years I had been very very lucky to work in Great companies /world class organizations ( Sandoz, BASF, Monsanto, now Honeywell) and very great bosses /Managers who inspired me to strive to reach my potential and continue to learn. (I had 11 Bosses in that time, only one was horrible person (for about 8 months, of course, I learned from that as to how one shouldn't be a bad boss. Of course he triggered me to look for an important change to reach new heights). Also to work with people/ locations -various cultural backgrounds, the Americans, the Polish, The Aussie, the English, the French, the Germans, what more can you ask for!!!.

[b]My Family[/b] (Parents, wife, children) great strength.

[b]Manager tools[/b]. I tell my friends here in India that after Peter Drucker, these are people who have come to make a difference to the world. Great Preaching.

Great job.

Karthik.