3 Behaviors That Will Boost Your Career

In a recent interview, Mellody Hobson, CEO of Ariel Investment and TED Talk star, opened up on race issues and her growing career. She is a reference to corporate America leaders. She delivered us her keys to success.

I know that today we praise freelancing, we advocate self-employment and we give the advice to build our own income streams. Nonetheless, working in companies — whatever the size — is still a reality and can make you thrive and find success just as well.

The big difference between being a freelancer and being employed for a company is that you have to work with other people, and for other people. In both cases, you are expected to produce something, but it is not the same person at the origin of this demand. When a freelancer, it is your clients directly; when in a company, it is your superior.

There are ways to behave in companies and to fulfill the duties that can help you stand out from your colleagues. If you do it the right, you can play your cards and find your own success.

Here are the guidelines Mellody Hobson followed in her life and career to get to the top, despite everything else that could have held her back.

Give all of you in the beginning, so you can get all of it later

I have always been an advocate for this way of thinking. Ever since I got into college, I would tell myself: ‘Work hard now, give all you have got, and then you will enjoy the rest of your life’. And I did so.

My dream is to settle in a city — not Paris, but not too small — open my coffee shop, and grow my plants. However, I can not do that right now. Because first, I need enough money to pay for a place to live in, to be able to sustain myself, to have enough money to retire one day, etc. And I need to raise money to boost start my project.

I wanted freedom, and I realized that the only way you get freedom is to pay your dues. — Mellody Hobson

To achieve my goal, I know that I will have to work — hard — for maybe 3 years, maybe for a decade. In any case, I need to build a solid foundation for my life, with increasing income streams.

The first couple of years will be to grow in my career, improve my skills and experience, and get higher ranked. Next, the point is to stabilize my situation and to start working on other side income (investments …). Once I am comfortable, I can start working on my project, putting money in it, develop it. And enjoy it.

Be prepared

When you start your career, you will find yourself in a whole new environment. Every time you will face a change, you will be confronted with things you are not used to. Don’t be afraid, it is the same for every one of us.

To prevent being destabilized, prepare yourself. Learn about the company. Learn about their working methods. Learn about your coworkers (browse through their LinkedIn profile). Learn about the tools you will have to use (do some quick online courses).

Confidence comes from preparation and knowing the subject matter. — Mellody Hobson

Not only you will be ready, but you also will be confident. Why does being a confident person matter?

I am not talking about being over-confident and talking too much. No, I am telling you to be confident about your work, to know you are doing great, and meeting the company’s expectations.

If you are confident in your job, and that you are productive, people will look ahead for you. You will be recognized for your capacities, more than if you are downgrading yourself all the time. It means that your colleagues and superiors will know about your added value. With time, it will get you easier promotions, salary raises, and positions offer.

Moreover, if you are confident and know what you are doing, you are likely to learn quickly about new things. You won’t be afraid to start something new. To push your boundaries. And to work your way up to your goals.

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Mellody Hobson, TED, on Flickr

Make yourself indispensable

Being important in a company and recognized means that you can not be switched with somebody else. We can not replace you. You, your capacities, are needed where you are and no one else can to it for you.

Being indispensable is what will make you stand out. People will have the intuition to turn to you, to ask you about your accomplishments. They will notice that you are a whole part of their working day.

What is the difference between you and the others? It is that you know. Do the little things that you would want others to have thought about. Do things without being told to. Answer the questions by yourself, and become the answer.

“Make yourself indispensable and you can’t get fired.”

— Mellody Hobson

One day, my superior came to me saying that he was nicely surprised that I decided to take some action by myself. At first, I did not understand to what extent it was particularly impressive, but then he told me that most of my team would wait to be told what to do. That they did not have the confidence to pass out information, to reach out to other teams, whereas it is the usual work process. My superior can not track everyone’s actions and whereabouts. He expects us to go to the end of things. So I had done something that was supposed to be the usual but turns out it was not.

It is not about doing things that are not in your scope, but to cover your full scope. Tasks have a beginning and an end. Work through them fully. Ask yourself: Is there anything else I could have done? What is the next step? Is it my role to do it? If not, to whom should I transmit the information?

People won’t have to clean your work after you. Your team will look up to you, and will seek advice. Do as much as you can. This way, you will prove that you can do it, and more.

If you reach the end of your progress bar, then you will have to make this progress bar bigger. How? Getting promoted, being given more responsibilities. Step by step, you will be indispensable.

Wrapping Up

You can build a career easily without having to work 12 hours a day. The main thing you have to keep in mind is to always be a step forward. Know where you are going and what you have to do to go there. Don’t leave anything aside.

I am just at the beginning of my career and I have already noticed these behaviors, and they always match the personalities of leaders. Of the ones who are making a difference.