7 Lessons Learned from a Year in the Business World

1) Communication: Timely and Transparent

It’s not hard, but it does require taking conscious time and energy to communicate in a transparent and timely fashion. I have found that the benefits of this type of communication are well worth the investment of time and energy. Whenever your boss, colleague, or employee (yes this applies 360′ degrees) initiaties a conversation that requires a response, I highly encourage you to answer it as quickly as possible (at the moment you receive it if you are able and it works to do so).

Over time, I have observed that this simple concept of communicating as promptly as possible has helped me build a great amount of earned responsibility, trust, and reliability among my colleagues. That trust has translated to a number of various opportunities that wouldn’t have been available if my colleagues didn’t know they can always count on me to be responsive, transparent, and punctual.

2) Use Your Voice

Social media and business, tyrell mara keynote

I am such a huge believer that we all have a powerful unique voice that has huge potential for positive impact in our world. This belief is at the core of all of the work I do from social media and communications strategy, to public speaking. Over the course of the year, I worked hard to create opportunities (no they did not just appear), to use my voice in a few different ways. I focused on one area in my field, public speaking, and one area of personal passion, writing, to continue to share from a place of authenticity and use my unique voice.

Through “Using my Voice” I was able to speak at several different events in Western Canada on the topics of social media for business, personal branding, and leadership. I also was able to continually share my passions and personal beliefs (which is a very soul fulfilling practice for me), here on my website. This allowed me to stay connected in my existing community and opened the doors to some really new and exciting opportunities.

We are now living in a world where the opportunities to share your voice in a meaningful way are endless. Don’t let anyone tell you you cannot do or believe in something!

3) Say Yes to Opportunity

A while back, I listened to a great segment of “Agent Caffeine Radio” hosted by Kelly Mitchell who was interviewing a business leader named Jared James. Jared said something that resonated with me, “…the difference between an entrepreneur and a salesman is that an entrepreneur will always say yes to an opportunity, and then figure out how to make it happen afterwards”. Creating high access to opportunity has been one of the most important learning experiences I have had this year. Whether it is making a great new connection over coffee or exploring new projects and possibilities, we have to create this space in order for opportunity to reveal itself to us.

My advice here would be to go into every conversation looking for opportunities that provide mutual value. Meaning that the motive is never to only benefit yourself, but find people, conversations, and experiences that provide value (learning, exposure, revenue… You define “value”) to you, and the other parties involved. By approaching every interaction (both online and offline) with this attitude, it has opened the door to countless new opportunities. More importantly, it has helped me gain clarity around what types of opportunities really “jazz” me, and which don’t!

And that type of clarity is invaluable!

4) Gauge Your Energy and Engagement

I think this is especially important for individuals entering the workforce for the first time, or even beginning a new job or position. In this unknown environment, there will inevitably be things that really excite you, get you fired up and motivated to do your best, and things that drain you, that are a struggle to do, and typically get left to last… I have a simple equation for finding more happiness in life: continually find ways to do more of the first, and less of the second!

Of course, we cannot identify these “energy fill” and “energy suck” activities if we don’t first understand our own intrinsic values, beliefs, and motives, and secondly if we are not checking in with ourselves and being completely honest with “how that felt”. Here are some questions to ask yourself: Did I enjoy that experience? Do I feel energized or drained afterwards? Could I do it effortlessly? Did time fly by? Were the people around me engaged and excited as a result of the great energy I was giving?

5) Never Stop Learning

You have hundreds of opportunities to learn every day, and as I discussed in my last post, a lot of capitalizing on that opportunity comes down to the choice you make.

Try not to make decisions that are driven by a fear of failure

I believe that if you are in a great work environment and culture, where your values and beliefs are aligned and you are intrinsically motivated- you should feel like there is room to fail, make mistakes, and ultimately learn from those experiences.

NOW- not so fast, one of the critical pieces of this equation that I feel doesn’t get talked about enough, is what you do after you fail or make a mistake. How do you report back to your superior in a way that illustrates you have already taken the steps to learn and improve on the process for next time? In the past year I have had short comings both large and small, but in every case, one of my first steps is to reflect on the experience and create a detailed framework for why a certain initiative failed, the lessons learned, and how things could be done better next time.

Your boss, partner, colleague, or direct report, should not expect you to be perfect in every task (if this is the case it will create an environment of fear where the envelope of innovation, change, and progress will never be pushed). They should however have the confidence and trust in you that when obstacles and setbacks occur, you will have already thought about important lessons learned and come prepared to make recommendations of how this could be improved upon.

If you are looking for increased responsibility , autonomy, and leadership opportunities- this is a powerful process!

6) Don’t Discount the Value of Relationship Building

Yes I know… We’re all busy… Coffee’s, unrelated work conversations, and taking the time to genuinely check in with friends and colleagues isn’t as important as what’s on my desk today… I’m going to be honest here, this just doesn’t fly with me. I know we all have urgent tasks, deadlines, and high priority work- but I would argue that if your not taking some time to invest in building valuable relationships (both professional and personal), you will begin falling far behind in the bigger picture of life…

Tip: Social Media is an incredible way to filter through the noise and qualify the connections and relationships you want to pursue, here is what I mean:


7) Find “Your” Life Balance

Over the year, I have learnt from experience to always prepare for push back when I mention the term “life balance”… “There is no such thing about life balance”, “Life balance is a myth”, etc, you get it… Well, I guess my initial response is that if you believe that balance is a myth, than it always will be- as simple as that. Secondly, “life-balance” looks vastly different for each and every one of us- and true life balance should be an internal pursuit and alignment of self, not an external expectation to satisfy the world’s expectations. If we define optimum balance based on who we are, our goals and aspirations, and what fills us with energy, than we can begin working towards creating that life.

My advice here is to not use others as a gauge of measurement… So what if Bob has a nicer car, is that really important to you? Would that fill you up with radiant energy? If not, than what will? Gauge your ideal life balance on how you feel, your energy flow, and how the impact you are having in the world resonates with your inner being!