Your (and the President’s) most valuable asset

The doctor is in... (copyright A. M. Kuchling)

Often, when people start drawing their own professional network, they spend a lot of time putting actors on the map who give them money or orders or get products or services from them. They are all very important, because, sure, you are in business or employment to be able to pay your rent, you have to follow (or get around) those with formal authority and if you forget about your clients needs, you won’t be successful for long. But… I learned that if you look at your professional progress in the longer term, not just a snapshot of your situation today, you might find that your bosses and clients are rather exchangeable, but a completely different category of people is much more crucial in shaping where you go and how (and if) you get there. That’s the advisors in the largest sense of the word: People who share their experience with you, warn you of potential pitfalls, connect you with promising ideas and people, inspire you and guide you along your way. Or maybe just at one crucial point in time, when you were at a crossroads and they helped you to decide which way to turn.

Sometimes your advisors might be individuals who also give you money, orders, or receive your services. Others have no formal link to your work life: they might be family members, friends or even significant strangers. Look back at the last 5 years of your career and think about those moments when you had to make big decisions: Who was there? Where and when did you have this impactful conversations that gave you strength and direction to go this way (and not that)? Who picked you up and told you to persevere when you thought it really wasn’t worth it any more? Who told you some inconvenient truth that you hated at the moment but that safed you a lot of bruises or wrong turns? Who inspires you and gets your creative juices flowing?

Take good care of them, because they might be among your most valuable assets. Just as they say: A President is just as good as his ability to choose great advisors. Acknowledge them in your success. Call them every once in a while and see what will happen. You might just have a nice chat and an opportunity to thank them. Or you might go away with a new insight that is crucial for your next step.

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