“We’re looking for someone age 22–26… with 30 years of experience.”
No matter where you are in life and in your career, the amount of experience you have matters.
I started my career working on the Space Shuttles. Fresh out of college with a mechanical engineering degree, I was working alongside “gray beard” engineers (old timers with figurative grey beards to indicate their wisdom) who have been working over 20 years. How am I supposed to contribute value as a freshout?!
Fast forward to today, where I now run a business project office. Even today I question my lack of experience and wish I had accumulated more.
My point is, we can always benefit from having more experiences in life. If there’s an imaginary checklist of experiences to have in order to get promoted to that dream job, let’s learn how to check them off faster.
Gain Massive Experience in Less Time
Here are my top 5 techniques to more quickly gain useful experience.
- “Become an information omnivore.”  — Although it may seem like a waste of time or an indulgence (especially if you have a massive to-do list), you have to spend time reading about other organizations at work, cultivating your pursuit of hobbies and exploring additional topics of interest (besides politics!). This cross pollination will actually rapidly increase your knowledge set and you’ll be surprised how much more creative your ideas will be.
- Journaling — I know you’ve heard this advice before countless times and maybe this time you’ll actually take heed! Journaling will help your brain organize your thoughts more logically, and in doing so, reveal gaps in knowledge or incorrect assumptions. Like Mark Manson points out, you’ve got to challenge your beliefs, and in doing so, you’ll internalize experiences faster. 
- Develop unique knowledge that makes you a go-to resource. — Can you scour the depths of the Internet like no other? Can you give presentations in front of large crowds when public speaking is most people’s #1 fear? Identify what specific types of knowledge your team or your industry lacks, and build that expertise. Also, don’t forget to consider your personal background. For example, I claim to be a bit of an artist and it’s come in extremely handy at work. In fact, my art skills have opened doors into other projects and opportunities that I normally would not have been able to access.
- Say ‘yes’ to unenviable assignments. — These are tasks, at work or at home, that nobody wants to do. Maybe it’s tedious, maybe it’s a little unrewarding (at first glance), or maybe it requires dealing with difficult people. But successfully tackling these tasks has several benefits, including gaining unique knowledge, a wider network of relationships, and a solid reputation. You can’t pay enough for a great reputation.
- Be part of a learning community. — For example, I signed up for MasterClass over a year ago. I’ve watched courses about photography with Annie Leibovitz and Jimmy Chin, campaign strategy with David Axelrod, and most importantly, poker strategy with David Negreanu and Phil Ivey. How has this helped my career? Let’s just say, I bluff way better now!
“One way to think of the stratification in society at the moment is that there is a growing gap between those who learn well and quickly and those who do not. That gap comes in many guises, not just income gaps, but also gaps in health, well-being, divorce rates, addictions, and so on.” — @IAmMarkManson 
Symptoms of a Troubled Career
If we’re this deep in the pandemic and working from home, and you feel like your career and relationships aren’t stagnated, then well done. Hit reply all and tell us your secret.
But, if you’re feeling like most of us, stagnated, complacent, just plain tired and depressed — we’ve got to find a way to stop thinking that our life is on pause.
I’ve been having lots of conversations recently with folks who feel like their careers have hit a wall and don’t know why. It’s only in retrospect that they realize something has gone off the rails.
I tell them, “this is great.” The first step is to accept there’s a problem, right? Only then can we decide to do something about it. Today we discuss ways to determine if we have a problem and why.
“…the average mid-career manager feels they have more to lose if they make a mistake. They talk themselves into making decisions that play it safe, where they feel in control. They put off decisions when they should be examining what needs to change. In decision-making moments, they overestimate the risks of change and underestimate the risks of preserving the status quo.” — @LaurenceMinsky and @JuliaTangPeters in @HarvardBiz 
The point is we’ve put our life on pause because we aren’t taking enough risks. When we went into the office, or when we were younger in life, we took on way more risk. We took the risk because we wanted to be noticed or didn’t know enough to be scared.
Well, now is the time to go back to that philosophy. If you want to get ahead in life, you’re going to have to stand out from the crowd and that means taking risks.
Ask yourself: 
- Do you spend each day getting through what’s on your calendar and to-do list without pausing to ask, “is this the important stuff?”
- Do you have an automatic negative reaction to changing your routine? Time to ask if your routine is really getting you ahead in life, or if it’s just comfy.
- Do you avoid or procrastinate making big decisions? Chances are you’re scared of something and you better understand what that is before it runs your life.
- Do you ever ask for help? If you aren’t asking for help, then you’re probably insecure and incorrectly thinking it shows weakness. Let’s face it, we don’t know it all and that’s great! That’s why we surround ourselves with kind people who are smarter than us in different areas. Don’t be arrogant; be humble. It’s way sexier. 😉
“What distinguishes the winners from the losers in the experience curve game is their grasp of both the logic of the experience curve and the characteristics of the competitive arena that determine its suitability as a strategic weapon.” — @PankajGhemawat in @HarvardBiz 
How to Accelerate Your Learned Experiences
In my early 20’s, I had a personal goal to be a millionaire by age 30. When I didn’t make that goal, I questioned myself. Am I not smart enough to make it? Did I not try hard enough? Should I have bought more lotto tickets?
Since then, I haven’t lost my ambition nor my drive to set goals. (How do people live without goals?!) What’s new is that I realize I can be happy while failing.
Key to happiness is knowing that I am learning and growing along the way. Let’s dig really deep into something called the 70% Experience Curve.
Originally called the Learning Curve, but later dubbed the Experience Curve when applied to business, such that if the business isn’t seeing a % improvement in production efficiency and cost, they must be doing something wrong.
The 70% Experience Curve is how businesses learn over time and, as a result, make more money. Here’s how to apply it to your circumstances and accelerate your life:
- Labour efficiency: They become mentally more confident and spend less time hesitating, learning, experimenting, or making mistakes.
Takeaway — You need to learn shortcuts (new software, new techniques) and know who to go-to to make things happen (direct path to the decision-maker).
- Specialization and methods improvements: When employees specialize in a limited set of tasks, they gain more experience with these tasks and operate at a faster rate.
Takeaway — If it’s a skill that’ll be useful for a long time, put in the 10,000 hours to master it. Might sound dumb, but I’m made tons of PowerPoint presentations over my career and I’ve gotten pretty lethal with in making clear and concise charts. If I make the charts, I get to decide the message.
- Better use of equipment: Purchase of more productive equipment can be justifiable.
Takeaway — Are you hesitating on buying a $5 app? Don’t skimp on learning new tools and knowledge.
- Changes in the resource mix: As a company acquires experience, it can alter its mix of inputs and thereby become more efficient.
Takeaway — Are you versatile enough to adapt to different teams, tasks, and goals? Don’t get typecasted into a single role; they’ll never promote you out of it.
- Product redesign: As consumers have more experience with the product, they usually find improvements, resulting in changes to the manufacturing process.
Takeaway — Redefine your routine. The pandemic forced us to change a lot of our routines, such as our morning routine. Experiment, discover improvements, and redesign yourself.
- Network-building: For example, one fax machine in the world can do nothing, but if everyone has one, they build an increasingly efficient network of communications.
Takeaway — Be mindful of your true reputation. If one person thinks something of you, it probably doesn’t matter. If the whole organization thinks it, you better be aware of it.
- Shared experience effects: Experience curve effects are reinforced when two or more products share a common activity or resource.
Takeaway — Jordan had Pippen and Rodman. (Yes, I just watched Netflix’s The Last Dance.) Who’s your Pippen and Rodman? Create a tight relationship with them and help each other.
Experience Won’t Matter If You Don’t Do This
I have a close friend that’s of the opposite political view. If that statement has already made you feel uncomfortable, there’s more.
We regularly trade podcast episodes with each other, to highlight points to the other person, aka, “here’s what I’m hearing and thus why I believe this way.”
As you can imagine, we disagree a lot.
Most importantly though, we both (1) openly appreciate to each other that we can talk about this safely, (2) treat each other with the highest level of respect, and (3) prioritize the relationship over making a point.
Let’s explore the crucial skill of disagreeing and still building a relationship.
Maybe you think you’re a pushover. Or maybe you’re someone who steamrolls over other people. (It’s a dog eat dog world, right?)
Either way, it means a failure to disagree with someone and still build a relationship. Maybe it’s because we’re scared of conflict. Or maybe we use a hammer to solve every problem.
If we can’t harness our knowledge to disagree, then it won’t matter how much experience we have. If you leave them feeling like they’ve been run over, that’s not going to help you in the future.
“Why engage in uncomfortable but necessary dialogue with people you disagree with when you already have that angry tweet typed out and ready to send? Well, I’ll tell you why: it’s these very discomforts that thrust us towards the true rewards in life. But those true rewards require one thing: patience.” — @IAmMarkManson 
Patience during the conversation. Patience afterwards when you’re fuming with emotions. Patience with yourself and how you might be struggling to articulate with compassion.
Today’s takeaway is to master the skill of being patient in a disagreement. That’s a skill that will be powerful when combined with all your experience and knowledge. Add to that a genuine care for the relationship, and that person will be spreading the good word about you.
- My 2019 Annual Review by James Clear
- How to Gain Credibility When You Have Little Experience by Andy Molinsky and Jake Newfield
- How Today’s Young Professionals Should Grow: An Interview with Ayala Chairman and CEO by Vasundhara Sawhney
- Bolstering the Female CEO Pipeline: Equalizing the Playing Field and Igniting Women’s Potential as Top-Level Leaders by Signe M. Spencer, E. Susanne Blazek, J. Evelyn Orr
- Are You at Risk of a Mid-Career Rut? by Laurence Minsky and Julia Tang Peters
- Building Strategy on the Experience Curve by Pankaj Ghemawat
- Lifelong Learning: How to Continuously Learn and Grow by Mark Manson
- How to Be Patient in an Impatient World by Mark Manson
- Learning Curves
- Wikipedia: Experience curve effects
#ventureout #productivitytips #positivityonly #experiencematters