Join Betty Liu for an in-depth discussion in this video Final thoughts, part of Betty Liu on Career Success.
- One of the most heartening things that I find when I talk to really successful people is how many of them had no idea what they were doing in their careers. How many of them failed, how many of them made mistakes, how many of them were fired, how many of them were unhappy in their jobs. I mean the list goes on, right. So, I find actually some comfort in that because the worst thing is to know that, that the only way to be successful is to be successful all the time. I mean, that's just not real. So, I think the most heartening things that I've heard are stories from very successful people telling me about the mistakes that they made or what happened when they were fired.
We did an interview one time with George Zimmer, the former CEO of Men's Warehouse, and he told me that, about a time when he was running his company. This was 10 years into his company. There was a big economic crisis in the state that he was, that his company was based in, it was in Texas. There was an oil crisis in the 1980s, and his company, which had been running for 10 years, and was profitable was suddenly on the verge of bankruptcy. So he went around the country looking for more money, was looking to fundraise, only needed half a million dollars to raise money, or to save his company, and he almost got that money from another retail executive but that retail executive pulled out at the last moment, and so, finally, the person who bailed him out was his mother who had borrowed that money from someone else.
And he said that whole experience which was just mindblowingly painful to him, he said that whole experience taught him that his business model wasn't working. So, he took that near failure, that mistake, and he reorganized his whole company, reorganized his whole business model, turned the model into everyday low pricing which is what Men's Warehouse became known for, and grew that company into two and a half billion dollars in sales. So that to me is emblematic of what I hear a lot from CEOs which is, either they failed or they nearly failed, and they turned that into a life life lesson for themselves, and they changed the way they looked at things, and grew their next level to success.
I think there's a big misnomer about mentoring which is that you have to have a lot of mentors in order to have a successful career. I think mentorship is more about finding an organic connection with a few people who will help you tremendously in your career. I could probably count on one hand the number of true mentors I've really had. And some of them, some of the people weren't even related in my field. They weren't other journalists, they weren't editors. They were just different people who were able to give me advice at the right times, and who I've become friends with for 10, 20 years or so.
But mentoring is really about having that organic connection, and being able to feed off of each other. I give that person as much as they give me or maybe they give me more, but I give them something as well. You have to have a very deep connection with someone. So, it's not about collecting a bunch of mentors, it's not about how the more you have, the better you'll be, it's about having some deep, deep connections. In your career you might have only three or four men-- true, three or four true mentors. And that's okay.
One of the biggest surprises just about growing older and growing more advanced in your career is how much more confident you become. So, when you're in your twenties you're, you're struggling, you're grappling with everything it can seem like a very scary place. As you grow older, as you grow more advanced, you just become much more comfortable in your skin, at least I have. And you know what you like and you know what you don't like.
And you know where you fit in, and you know where you don't fit in. And you know what you can do well, and what you can't. And I think knowing yourself has been a very pleasant surprise for me. I would say when I was 25 years old, I hardly knew myself. Now I do, and so, from that, you really can get a better sense of what, of where you fit in this world. And I think that's been kind of a pleasant surprise for me. I think the biggest myth about success is that money makes you happy.
(laughs) Right? So, everyone thinks that once they get to a certain point, they'll be rich and they'll be happy. No, I mean I know a lot of rich people who are very unhappy. So, I think that that's kind of a big, a big myth that people have or something that they feel like once they get that money that everything's gonna be set, and it's just not the case at all. I think there's a study out there that says anybody who earns, I believe, over $75,000 a year the happiness quotient pretty much doesn't move much one way up or down after that, and I tend to think that that's probably pretty true.
Now, being more well off does buy you certain things, right. It buys you better health care, it buys you better food, better clothes, all of those things, but it doesn't buy you more happiness. So, I think that's one thing people have to really remember is that the more successful that they've become, don't expect that you're gonna be much happier. Happiness really comes from other things. It comes from knowing who you are, it comes from the connections that you make. It comes from knowing that you're living your life to the fullest, to the most, to the way that you want to live it, to the truest and purest way.
It has almost nothing to do with how much money is in your bank account. All of these things that we just talked about, right, how to network, how to find what you're good at and pursue your dreams. Don't get frustrated, these are the things that don't come overnight. I mean, they take years and years to discover. It took me years to discover as well. And you're constantly growing. I mean, this is not something where you master networking and that's it. You are, you're constantly networking, you're constantly learning how to network even better.
You're constantly building your brand. You're always writing articles, you're constantly reinforcing what value you bring to your employer or to your company, into your startup. So always keep, always keep that long term view in mind. I mean, anyone who thinks that they're gonna get to a position and they're gonna be happy after that and that's it, right. People say that all the time. "If I just get this dream job, "then everything's fine." No, once they find that dream job, they'll find there's another dream job that they want or there's another set of problems that they encounter.
So it's always constantly evolving. Your career's always constantly evolving, and you'll always have more and more challenges. Now, if you're looking for more guidance, I would highly recommend that you pick up my book, Work Smarts. You can get it on Amazon. But also, subscribe to our podcast, the Radiate podcast. I think you'll find some pretty inspirational stories that'll kind of motivate you through your day. And, the other thing you could do, is you could subscribe to my newsletter on my website, betty-liu.com. And that, every week we give you more tips on how to grow your career.
And, of course, go to Linkedin, right. Go to some of these resources, Lynda, Linkedin, and others and constantly connect and learn more. Read other people's articles. Read more books. Constantly consume more information to learn and grow and make yourself a better person. If you can wake up every morning and say, "I've learned something new." Or if you can go to sleep every night and say that you've learned something new, then you're much better than you were the day before.
Learn what it takes to
- Find your passion
- Be an outstanding job candidate
- Interview well
- Overcome fear
- Make a career change
- Network and find mentors