Four Sure-Fire Ways to Stand out in Your Career

A young man in a class I was addressing at a Columbia University business class asked me a poignant question. “How do I stand out in my career?”

He was in his mid-twenties, professionally dressed, and his body language exuded self-confidence. He already had a lot going for him, but this is the advice I gave him and would give to any young man or woman who wants to stand out in their career:

1. “Go the extra mile.”

If you only do 90 percent of what they’re asking of you, you won’t stand out. You’ll be average and there’s no pay-off for the effort you put into the job. However, doing more than what is expected is a great investment because it will pay off in your reputation and it’s only a little more effort. Doing more than is required means you’ll be the one management thinks of when there’s an important assignment. You’ll be the one with who gets the promotions.

2. Be a team player.

I promise you, management notices selfish behavior, the kind where a person puts his own good ahead of the team.

3. Work on your people skills.

Learn how to get along with others and how to bring out the best in others. Consider taking the Dale Carnegie Course on human relations skills. Frank Perdue took it, I took it, and my late father, co-founder of the Sheraton Hotels took it. And just how important is this skill? John D. Rockefeller answered this question when he said, “The ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee and I will pay more for that ability than for any other under the sun.”

4. Constantly learn new skills.

I agree with what Scott Adams, creator of the comic strip Dilbert, says: “Develop a variety of skills that work well together. Each new skill you learn doubles your odds of success.” I’ve made it a rule always to take at least one new course a year, and amazingly, they all come in handy. I think it’s a Law of the Universe that somehow the things you learn, whether (in my case) languages, database programming, public speaking or whatever, have helped advance my career. The more skills you have, the more useful you are to yourself and to an organization, and being able to solve problems for an organization is an incredibly valuable career advantage.

So, to stand out in your career, go the extra mile, be a team player, work on your people skills, and constantly work on acquire new skills.



Mitzi Perdue is a speaker, author, and businesswoman. She is the widow of Frank Perdue and daughter of Ernest Henderson, founder of the Sheraton Hotel Chain.

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