Posted November 26, 2013 by

4 Lessons Best Learned Early in Your Career

Ken Sundheim

Ken Sundheim, Chief Executive Officer at KAS Placement Sales Recruiting

Wisdom comes from experience.  It spawns from the ability to reflect on events in our lives (both professional and personal) and analyze those situations in a manner that is conducive to us handling those occurrences more effectively the next time around.

While some people will never learn the key lessons required to be a success, others will figure them out later in life.  Those who become accustomed to this wisdom earlier on can go further than others.

For example, Steve Jobs and Larry Page (in business and life) knew more than your average CEO at age 30 who knew more than your average employee.

While I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will never be a Page or Jobs, I still have learned my fair share.  With that being said, here are 5 things I’ve figured out:

1. Try to be reliant on the least amount of people possible and when you have to be, make sure you rely on the right people.  In 99% of cases, your co-workers or connections will not go out of their way to make you rich.

Also, when you need something from someone else, it creates tension and can have the opposite of the desired effect.  On the flip side, to truly create something great, people must be relied upon.  It wasn’t technological genius that was solely responsible for the achievements of Bill Gates, it was also his ability to properly choose whom to share it with.

2. It’s virtually impossible to make a lot of money doing something you don’t like.  Recent studies have shown that monetary reward alone cannot produce the best work an individual can create.  Factors such as passion and creativity must be rampant in the equation.   Money may be able to buy a Range Rover, but it can’t buy your undivided devotion to a career.

When devotion is not present, even an extremely high IQ won’t make a difference.  When you love what you do, paychecks come naturally.

3. People will only want to help you out when you act in a self-less manner, but it’s not that simple.  Consider this: corporate America can be a very cold place to work or sell into if you’re an entrepreneur.  In general, if others believe that you are taking any particular action solely out of self-interest, they will shy away.

However, in the business world, being overly compassionate and concerned about others can be conceived as a sign of weakness. When perceived weak, people are just as less apt to go out of their way to help you accomplish your goals.

The most successful individuals are able to play a sincere balancing act between coming across as aloof to others’ needs and being too concerned with assisting co-workers.

4. Networking is useless if you don’t possess any skills of interest to the other party.  It is in my opinion that the first of the big social media sites to fail will be LinkedIn.  In theory, the site is great – a Facebook, but for professionals who want to help each other out.  In reality, the premise that people will assist each other just for the sake of it, is a flawed thesis.

A problem LinkedIn is seeing is that decision makers don’t spend much time on the site anymore because everyone wanted to “network” with them strictly for their personal gain and didn’t have much to offer.

As the head of a recruiting firm, I believe I have nearly 2,000 contacts and while I get InMails all the time from people asking for jobs or selling something, I don’t think I’ve ever received correspondence from someone who phrased the email in a way which they could assist me.

This deters me from engaging the majority of them.  Effective networking can only take place when there is a mutual respect and mutual gain between the parties involved.  Unfortunately, in life respect is not given out, it must be earned.

Moreover, nobody ever got rich networking.  If you truly have a passion for it, I’d recommend considering a career as a politician instead of attempting to succeed in business.


Ken Sundheim is a writer for Forbes, Chicago Tribune and is the CEO of KAS Placement Sales Recruiting  an executive search firm based out of New York City assisting business development and all types of marketing professionals connect with some of today’s most innovative employers. 

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