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Career advice that will change your life

By Mary Brandel, Network World
February 12, 2013 02:56 PM ET

Page 2 of 3

"The actual quote is from philosopher G.K. Chesterton, and I ran into it just recently when I was traveling -- I think it was in the morning newspaper they deliver to your hotel room. It's good for anyone whose inclination is to turn down opportunities if you think you're not good enough or not worthy.

"Over time, I've become more willing to take risks, especially in areas where it's clear there's a need and no one is jumping up to do something. I also spend more of my time trying to invite more people to take a chance and encourage them to trust themselves to do something they feel they can't do."

Douglas Menefee, CIO, Schumacher Group

Advice: "Articulate your dream job."

Douglas Menefee
Douglas Menefee

"I was at dinner one night with the person who had bought my company, a Web application development firm I'd started up in the mid-1990s. I was a consultant (he was a film producer), and he asked me to describe what my ideal job would look like. I gave him some vague answer, and he said, 'No really -- what would your day look like?' So, I gave it some more thought and ended up giving him eight separate bullet points of what I was looking for in my dream job.

"Six months later, Dr. Schumacher called me and ended up offering me exactly what I had articulated that night. He told me his vision for the company, that he was looking for a CIO to play a strategic role, what role technology would play, how fast the company was intended to grow and the impact he wanted to have on healthcare. I said, that's exactly what I described six months ago. But had I not laid it out, I very possibly could have passed over that opportunity.

"Too many people -- and I was guilty of this -- figure things will just fall into place when it comes to their career. But it's important to visualize and essentially document and articulate what you want to accomplish and what your perfect job is. Once you go through that exercise and have it locked in your subconscious, it will start to come into play.

"We've done leadership development, where you write out your life journey. I've seen it work time and time again: If you write out what you want to accomplish, nine times out of 10, you will accomplish that.

"A risk is that you can't be so aggressive that you do more harm than good. I've seen young individuals go into an organization and move into a management role because there's more money there, but they're not passionate about managing people. Good things come through a process, and you have to trust the process of defining a goal and moving toward it."

Jacob Spoelstra, global head of R&D, Opera Solutions

Advice: "Be careful not to become a bottleneck."

Jacob Spoelstra
Jacob Spoelstra

"Like many scientists, my career started as an individual contributor. Over time, you get trusted with more complex problems, while also taking on management responsibility. As a technical person, I enjoy getting my hands dirty working on technical tasks -- manipulating data files, writing code, training models, analyzing results. However, this requires extended periods of focus and concentration.

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