by Rick Gillis

Make Your 40-Year Career a Good One

Jan 23, 20155 mins

It's who knows what you know that makes a career. So, never assume that your boss knows exactly what you do for the organization. Make the effort to properly and professionally promote yourself to your managers. (Serialized from the soon to be published book, <em>"Promote!" </em>)

As I was writing my new book, PROMOTE!, I got to thinking about how much more I might have achieved in my corporate commercial real estate career had I recognized at the time that professionally I was at the mercy of my supervisors. To be candid, I did pretty well, but I now wonder what else I could have accomplished had I known the concepts and methods you will shortly be learning. Looking back, I know I missed opportunities by not being prepared to speak up on my own behalf.

As a nationally recognized career coach I have spent thousands of hours working with individuals across the nation. One of the commonplace factors that I have come to recognize among clients is how very few of them are capable of expressing their commercial value.

PROMOTE! is insight gained from coaching as well as personal experience. The concept is simple: Learn how to professionally promote yourself and all that you do for your organization to those to whom you are professionally at the mercy of.

On another note, I understand and recognize the negative cultural and religious aspects of the concept of bragging. As I use the terms “brag” and “boast” in PROMOTE! understand that what I am communicating is your taking advantage of those opportunities that I personally missed as a young man to speak up for yourself. Inform your employers that you truly do deserve the raise, the promotion and the opportunity to be all that you are capable of. It is your professional responsibility to yourself, as well as to your loved ones, to achieve all you can in the time you have allotted to you in this life.

I wish you great success!

Rick Gillis


Chapter 1: 40 Years

As Howard Buffett, son of legendary investor Warren Buffett made clear in his book, Forty Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World, farmers have 40 chances – that is, roughly 40 years in a working lifetime, to bring in the crops.

You probably aren’t a farmer but you have about the same number of years to bring in your own “crops.” By that I mean reaching the level of achievement most of us strive for: fulfilling work, professional achievement and recognition, good pay and a successful retirement if not outright wealth, personal satisfaction, raising a family and creating a legacy for children, grandchildren and beyond.       

In short, pursuit of the dreams we all seek from life, the reasons we get out of bed every day throughout each year’s seasons until, for whatever reason, we are done. We get about 40 years to do that and how we put those 40 years to use in the workplace is crucial to the outcome.

In several years of studying and teaching people how to find good jobs, I developed a new kind of resume that, in place of the traditional jobs-listed-in-chronological-order format, is based on accomplishments. Here’s why. Most resumes are little more than obituaries — they speak to the past when what every potential employer really wants to know is how you will impact their future: what you’re going to accomplish for him or her if you are hired.

Such a resume, based on solid accomplishments, requires a different format, a different verb tense, even a different voice and it has been highly successful for thousands of job seekers.

However, as effective as that resume format has been, my many years of working with job seekers revealed a common shortfall among them. Whether they were a recent graduate looking for a first job or a seasoned CEO, they shared an inability to express their value in a way that would wow their audience, be that a shop foreman or a board of directors.

Question: What does every celebrity have in common with annual reports?

Answer: They each have a publicity machine behind them.

Every major personality you’ve ever heard of has professional management; a team of experts choreographing their every move who then have their clients’ affairs reported to you as “news.” So too does every product you buy, every holding in your portfolio have their own team of experts promoting their client. Whether through internal marketing, advertising or legal departments or by way of an outside public relations firm, crisis management consultants or both, these experts are tasked with doing everything in their power to be sure you and I know only the best about their client.

Who do you have?        

You have YOU.

And that’s what this book is all about: how you can, and must in today’s employment world, become your own publicity machine.

It’s about how you can toot your own horn on the job, boast without being obnoxious and convince your employer of your value so that you can make every one of those 40 years of work as productive and successful as possible.

While I’m on the subject, let me provide you with the best definition of personal promotion and professional engagement you will ever hear:

It’s not who you know. It’s not even what you know. It’s who knows what you know that makes a career.

Next week’s installment: Chapter 2, “Are You Valuable?” from PROMOTE!