"The world makes way for the man who knows where he is going."
My Vizify graphical bio. https://www.vizify.com/alex-battick
"Most obstacles are imaginary; the rest are only temporary."
Scott Sorrell (via tattoophrases)
I’ve been interested in pursuing law for quite some time. It was only recently that I think I had clearly defined the intrinsic reason for this pursuit. That realization, however, only stemmed from me rejecting the values and ideology I think many of the potential law students go in with.
Mind you, this is not to belittle or make a holier than thou statement. I had signed up for the McMaster pre-law society. I had decided to make some purposeful steps to orient myself in the direction of my prospective career. When I got to the first general meeting, I had never met such like minded people before. The introductions of most people were pretentious and self-serving. Each introduction was followed by one that tried to one up the other in experience or intellect. I noticed many - if not close to all, were students enrolled in political science and were aiming for oppurtunities in a law firm. Maybe it was feeling like the black sheep – being the only person in sociology and not fulfilling a double major, that turned me away from the pre-law society.
Whatever it was I had come to the revelation that I didn’t want to go visit courts to meet litigators and “build my network” to get into a successful private law firm. Something was pushing me away from it all. It could’ve been my ego that just wanted to go against the crowd, or maybe I had an epiphany that I can become a lawyer without following the status quo.
I liked sociology and I liked the volunteering that I was doing. I wasn’t going to give that up with the belief that there is only one way to accomplish my goal of practicing law. Truth be told there is more than one way to do anything. Following my own path, regardless of the adversity, has given me purpose.
I have an end goal - but its the purpose that i derived from following my own path. With that said, I urge anyone reading this to keep in mind that whatever dreams your have your minds eye set on, there is always more than one way to reach that goal. Be cognizant of this to allow flexibility in your planning and to avoid judgemental attitudes towards others.
Whether you are working on a group project, living with roommates, or engaging in a social context where you may rely on another person at some point to reach a goal – inevitably, you’ll encounter friction. Living in student housing has been one of the most enlightening experiences. Regardless of the conflict at times, I wouldn’t ask for an easier situation to have dealt with.
My mother told me once that difficult life situations one encounters is an opportunity to build your capacity. At the time, she was suggesting I accept a job I felt I wasn’t ready for, but there are many parallels that i’ve drawn from it throughout my undergrad.
Remember that time the dishes in the sink weren’t clean? Or when no one did the garbage? That person in your group didn’t edit their portion of the assignment? Building your capacity means cleaning everyones dishes when you noticed they piled up and no one else was willing to do it. It means doing all the garbage yourself when others are unwilling or have forgotten about it.
At the end of the day, my tolerance for difficult situations, as well as my work ethic has increased. This isn’t to say let people walk over you – its more about walking away from battles as to allow an opportunity for grow. And while arguing with my roommates about the dishes and garbage would’ve eventually gotten the job done, doing it myself allowed me to prove to myself that I am capable of doing a full load of dishes by myself, or take the garbage out on my own.
In a given conversation, I may say it maybe three times before I leave. Its not that I’m saying it in an apologetic sense… or even as a response to having a favour done for me.
I think I’ve learned to say thank you, mostly because I don’t think people acknowledge each other enough. I know most people aren’t consciously noticing all the thanks yous I’m saying, but its more for my benefit than theirs (yeah, I can be pretty selfish).
I believe I go into a conversation with a lot less than I will walk out with. Every utterance of the word thank you is to appreciate the growth. Whether you picked up the pen I accidentally dropped or answered a question I was puzzled with, I genuinely appreciate your assistance in my life (even as insignificant as it may seem).
Saying thank you, and be gratiutus to the actions of others is becoming an increasing theme and important revelation in my life. It keeps me grounded in the now, since I become conscious of what I’m grateful for.
I wouldn’t say I started off as the most close minded person four years ago, and yet I think I have broadened my mind beyond anything I could have imagined. As I conclude my final year of undergrad, I wanted to leave a message – not just as advice to those privileged enough to escape to a world outside the one they’ve known for the majority of their life – but also to acknowledge and thank all the great people that I have met along my journey.
I begun writing it a few months ago. I add to my Word document every time I am hit with a moment of inspiration. My list is pretty elaborate, but I hope to condense my points it to more digestible and friendly tips.
It’s easy to get bogged down with the rigid format of a traditional resume. Whether you’re transitioning careers or just getting started, generally the most difficult part of the process is finally sitting down in front of that computer screen. Below find some quick tips for all stages of your…
"Regret nothing. Do better next time."
Time is Not a Limitless Commodity – I so rarely find young professionals that have a heightened sense of urgency to get to the next level. In our 20s we think we have all the time in the world to A) figure it out and B) get what we want. Time is the only treasure we start off with in abundance, and can never get back. Make the most of the opportunities you have today, because there will be a time when you have no more of it.
You’re Talented, But Talent is Overrated - Congratulations, you may be the most capable, creative, knowledgeable & multi-tasking generation yet. As my father says, “I’ll Give You a Sh-t Medal.” Unrefined raw materials (no matter how valuable) are simply wasted potential. There’s no prize for talent, just results. Even the most seemingly gifted folks methodically and painfully worked their way to success. (Tip: read “Talent is Overrated”)
We’re More Productive in the Morning – During my first 2 years at Docstoc (while I was still in my 20’s) I prided myself on staying at the office until 3am on a regular basis. I thought I got so much work done in those hours long after everyone else was gone. But in retrospect I got more menial, task-based items done, not the more complicated strategic planning, phone calls or meetings that needed to happen during business hours. Now I stress an office-wide early start time because I know, for the most part, we’re more productive as a team in those early hours of the day.
Social Media is Not a Career – These job titles won’t exist in 5 years. Social media is simply a function of marketing; it helps support branding, ROI or both. Social media is a means to get more awareness, more users or more revenue. It’s not an end in itself. I’d strongly caution against pegging your career trajectory solely to a social media job title.
Pick Up the Phone – Stop hiding behind your computer. Business gets done on the phone and in person. It should be your first instinct, not last, to talk to a real person and source business opportunities. And when the Internet goes down… stop looking so befuddled and don’t ask to go home. Don’t be a pansy, pick up the phone.
Be the First In & Last to Leave – I give this advice to everyone starting a new job or still in the formative stages of their professional career. You have more ground to make up than everyone else around you, and you do have something to prove. There’s only one sure-fire way to get ahead, and that’s to work harder than all of your peers.
Don’t Wait to Be Told What to Do – You can’t have a sense of entitlement without a sense of responsibility. You’ll never get ahead by waiting for someone to tell you what to do. Saying “nobody asked me to do this” is a guaranteed recipe for failure. Err on the side of doing too much, not too little. (Watch: Millennials in the Workplace Training Video)
Take Responsibility for Your Mistakes – You should be making lots of mistakeswhen you’re early on in your career. But you shouldn’t be defensive about errors in judgment or execution. Stop trying to justify your F-ups. You’re only going to grow by embracing the lessons learned from your mistakes, and committing to learn from those experiences.
You Should Be Getting Your Butt Kicked – Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada” would be the most valuable boss you could possibly have. This is the most impressionable, malleable and formative stage of your professional career. Working for someone that demands excellence and pushes your limits every daywill build the most solid foundation for your ongoing professional success.
A New Job a Year Isn’t a Good Thing – 1-year stints don’t tell me that you’re so talented that you keep outgrowing your company. It tells me that you don’t have the discipline to see your own learning curve through to completion. It takes about 2-3 years to master any new critical skill, give yourself at least that much time before you jump ship. Otherwise your resume reads as a series ofred flags on why not to be hired.
People Matter More Than Perks – It’s so trendy to pick the company that offers the most flex time, unlimited meals, company massages, game rooms and team outings. Those should all matter, but not as much as the character of your founders and managers. Great leaders will mentor you and will be a loyal source of employment long after you’ve left. Make a conscious bet on the folks you’re going to work for and your commitment to them will pay off much more than those fluffy perks.
Map Effort to Your Professional Gain – You’re going to be asked to do things you don’t like to do. Keep your eye on the prize. Connect what you’re doing today, with where you want to be tomorrow. That should be all the incentive you need. If you can’t map your future success to your current responsibilities, then it’s time to find a new opportunity.
Speak Up, Not Out – We’re raising a generation of sh-t talkers. In your workplace this is a cancer. If you have issues with management, culture or your role & responsibilities, SPEAK UP. Don’t take those complaints and trash-talk the company or co-workers on lunch breaks and anonymous chat boards. If you caneffectively communicate what needs to be improved, you have the ability to shape your surroundings and professional destiny.
You HAVE to Build Your Technical Chops – Adding “Proficient in Microsoft Office” at the bottom of your resume under Skills, is not going to cut it anymore. I immediately give preference to candidates who are ninjas in: Photoshop, HTML/CSS, iOS, WordPress, Adwords, MySQL, Balsamiq, advanced Excel, Final Cut Pro – regardless of their job position. If you plan to stay gainfully employed, you better complement that humanities degree with some applicable technical chops.
Both the Size and Quality of Your Network Matter – It’s who you know more than what you know, that gets you ahead in business. Knowing a small group of folks very well, or a huge smattering of contacts superficially, just won’t cut it. Meet and stay connected to lots of folks, and invest your time developing as many of those relationships as possible. (TIP: Here is my Networking Advice)
You Need At Least 3 Professional Mentors – The most guaranteed path to success is to emulate those who’ve achieved what you seek. You should always have at least 3 people you call mentors who are where you want to be. Their free guidance and counsel will be the most priceless gift you can receive. (TIP: “The Secret to Finding and Keeping Mentors”)
Pick an Idol & Act “As If” – You may not know what to do, but your professional idol does. I often coach my employees to pick the businessperson they most admire, and act “as if.” If you were (fill in the blank) how would he or she carry themselves, make decisions, organize his/her day, accomplish goals? You’ve got to fake it until you make it, so it’s better to fake it as the most accomplished person you could imagine. (Shout out to Tony Robbins for the tip)
Read More Books, Fewer Tweets/Texts – Your generation consumes information in headlines and 140 characters: all breadth and no depth. Creativity, thoughtfulness and thinking skills are freed when you’re forced to read a full book cover to cover. All the keys to your future success, lay in the past experience of others. Make sure to read a book a month (fiction or non-fiction) and your career will blossom.
Spend 25% Less Than You Make – When your material needs meet or exceed your income, you’re sabotaging your ability to really make it big. Don’t shackle yourself with golden handcuffs (a fancy car or an expensive apartment). Be willing and able to take 20% less in the short term, if it could mean 200% more earning potential. You’re nothing more than penny wise and pound-foolish if you pass up an amazing new career opportunity to keep an extra little bit of income. No matter how much money you make, spend 25% less to support your life. It’s a guaranteed formula to be less stressed and to always have the flexibility to pursue your dreams.
Your Reputation is Priceless, Don’t Damage It – Over time, your reputation is the most valuable currency you have in business. It’s the invisible key that either opens or closes doors of professional opportunity. Especially in an age where everything is forever recorded and accessible, your reputation has to be guardedlike the most sacred treasure. It’s the one item that, once lost, you can never get back.
"It’s easy for me to pretend that there are things I can’t figure out. But when I’m honest with myself, I usually know the answers I need. I just don’t always want to admit it."