As the year comes to an end I would like to take the time to reflect back on some of the major things that helped me grow. A lot of people do not share their tips on how to advance or get somewhere in life. Very often you will get the generic answer, which is: to work hard in school and get good grades etc.
While this is all true, I have also found that sometimes working hard in life and getting good grades may not get you to the places you really want to be. I have 5 tips I would like to share with students that come from my experiences. These are things I do religiously and things that I have to continuously learn on a daily basis because learning my dear friends, NEVER STOPS! This is not to say I am giving you solutions that will work. I am trying to get you to think outside the box, in order to achieve the things you want to or at least to start thinking about how you would like to shape your future.
Get yourself a mentor
This was something I never thought about until last year. Had it not been for my very ambitious friend who mentioned to me that he had a mentor, I would have never looked into the idea. I did my research on how I would get one and I was very fortunate because my university runs a mentor scheme program that matches you up with a mentor for the whole year. The mentors they have are great. My mentor was everything. Her name is Jacqui Owen and she taught me the following:
- The importance of networking effectively
- How to be confident in a professional setting when you have some pretty intimidating high profile people in the same room as you.
- She introduced me to some of her good contacts
- I was able to work as an assistant at CPA Congress 2014, which is an annual event for the organization she works for.
These were some of the few things that Jacqui opened me up to. However, for such great outcomes in a mentoring relationship, both parties have to be as equally devoted and motivated to achieve results and grow for both you and your mentor to flourish.
I wont even spend too much time on this one but that is not to say it is not important. This tip is very important. Especially if you are starting out. I would firstly recommend reading a few articles on how to get started on LinkedIn. Alex Malley, the CEO of CPA Australia wrote a whole chapter on LinkedIn in his book titled “The Naked Ceo”. So if you want to make a few investments now, get LinkedIn and start reading about it so that you can use it correctly and get the most out of it.
Start creating a brand for yourself
Many young people have this idea that you only need to worry about your future when you have that D (degree) but I am here to burst your bubble, just the same way mine was burst. You need to start being conscious of your future now and that means branding yourself accordingly.
What do I mean by brand yourself?
Well, when you think of the following brands: Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Balmain, Mercedes Benz we can all agree that particular images come to mind. I chose to use these luxury brands, as examples purposely. These brands are do not come cheap and are known for their quality. People remember class when they think of these brands.
So when you are on Facebook, Twitter, Instgram or any social media platform, be very mindful of what you post. Keep in mind that what you do post is part of your brand. If there is one thing that is hard to recover, it is a reputation. If you do not know how to deal with these things properly, do not be discouraged, neither do I, but I did learn from my mistakes, then I made several more but now I am slowly starting to get it right.
When opportunity doesn’t knock, find a way to gracefully slam the door
We live in a world that can be very harsh and unfair. At the same time we also live in a world that is very generous, loving and filled with opportunities. It is a “take the good with the bad” situation. Having said that, sometimes life will test you and it will put you through hell before it gives you a taste of paradise. When you do taste paradise eventually, it is very demanding and it will challenge you in ways you never thought you could be challenged.
What is my point? You are never going to be happy with everything; there will always be something that isn’t quite right.
A time when opportunity didn’t knock at my door:
Most people do not know that I did not get into university straight away. I got rejected because my grades were not that great. They weren’t that bad either but I just didn’t meet the direct entry requirements for the course I wanted to study. I could have gone to a different university that was willing to accept me but I wanted to attend QUT. Opportunity didn’t knock so I had to work my ass off in foundation and face my worst demon (maths). Eventually, after months of doing this bridging course I got accepted into my dream course. I had gracefully slammed the door.
What is my point? When opportunity doesn’t knock, find a way to make it work
Enjoy the ride, you hear it all the time but life is actually pretty short
There is no sequel to your life. We only get one shot at this and I want to be one of those people who make the most of each day. When I look at people like Strive Masiywa, Oprah Winfrey, Terrerai Trent, Paulo Cohelo, Vusi Thembekwayo, Madonna Badger and Elizabeth Gilbert, I can’t help but wonder who they would have become if they chosen to get stuck in their struggle? There is living proof out there, that when you are equipped with the right tools and when you surround yourself with people who would like to see you grow, you will get through life. You will overcome challenges, and you will grow.
Final tips for you?
Find people who genuinely inspire you. The people who currently inspire me: Vusi Thembekwayo (Global Business Speaker & Private Equity CEO), Alex Malley (CEO of CPA Australia) and Jacqui Owen (My mentor from CPA Australia).
Last thing I recommend is to read some books that apply to you. Do not try and read all the business books for the sake of being able to put your hand up or nod when people ask if you have read a book. I recommend the two below:
“Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki