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12 career tips from tech CEOs

Work hard, seize opportunities, think differently, say tech CEOs to young workers

By , Network World
August 29, 2012 03:53 PM ET

Network World - It's a long way from mowing lawns and washing windows to the CEO's office, but today's tech titans haven't forgotten where they started in the working world. When Network World asked tech CEOs to talk about their first jobs, more than 30 obliged (click here to read about their experiences making licorice, cleaning hotel rooms, shoveling monkey cages, and scuba diving). They also offered advice for newcomers in the working world. Here's what they had to say:

1. Expect criticism

"It's important to be mindful about what you say and how it's perceived by others. But it's also important to learn that as a public person you are always going to be judged, no matter what. ... You have to be comfortable with yourself and open to criticism." -- Dave Rich, Revolution Analytics CEO (first job: football announcer).

2. Seize opportunities

"Get your hands dirty and go... each job is a learning experience in life. Everyone today wants to start off as an executive. But you can't. Take every opportunity you can, because it will help you down the road." -- George Teixeira, DataCore Software CEO (first job: hotel housekeeper).

3. Take work seriously

"Show up on time. Dress the part. Listen, listen, listen. Focus on doing every job, no matter how menial, to the best of your ability. Someday when you are a CEO you will want every member of your team, down to the shop floor worker, executing with excellence and pride." -- Thad Eidman, Knoa Software CEO (first job: Toyota dealership employee).

TECH CEOs' FIRST JOBS: Licorice maker, housekeeper, scuba diver and more

4. Think big

"I think young people generally don't need much advice. All I can say is: Don't assume that because you look young and lack experience that you can't accomplish great things." -- Sanjeev Gupta, Realization Technologies CEO (first job: dishwasher)

5. Perform

"Work is hard and there's no way to climb to the top without putting in the hours, showing your dedication and outperforming your peers." -- Josh McCarter, GramercyOne CEO (first job: Detailing cars).

6. Learn from people around you

"The most powerful learning experience was watching these two entrepreneurs, the two Stalling brothers who owned the company, make decisions to help extremely poor families. Families that most Americans have never gotten to know. Families so poor the kids literally had no shoes, no electricity, who could not afford diapers, who had an open bill at the pharmacy they would pay on every time they came in after church on Sunday. ... My advice to young people entering the workforce and young entrepreneurs is to learn from the people around you. It will come faster when you pour your soul into the job even if it means cleaning up after a child whose parents could not afford diapers." -- Ben Smith, ShopCo CEO (first job: pharmacy clerk).

7. Don't squander learning opportunities

"The job is a big time sink in your life, so don't treat it as something that you have to suffer through. Each job, regardless of what it is, is an opportunity to learn, take on challenges and grow." -- Tomer Kagan, Quixey CEO (first job: movie theater employee).

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