Your career is your great life experiment. — Cassandra LeVan
Cassandra LeVan, managing director of Brainjolt Media, joined us last week for a Praxis workshop on how to strategically design your career. Cassandra’s own career has specialized in change management with early- to mid-stage startups, and she’s passionate about improving a company’s processes and building teams of employees who are empowered to do their best work. Five years ago, Cassandra was an entry-level employee, and now she has an executive-level job. In this workshop, Cassandra shared insights from her own career journey, and her insights on how to plan your career.
Your career is 100% your responsibility — Cassandra LeVan
Cassandra’s three points to consider when building your career:
- Who’s in charge? (Hint: it’s you)
- How do you build your career? (It involves lots of trial and error, exploration, and introspection)
- When do you make the important moves? (This is where the strategic visioning comes in!)
On the call, Cassandra walked participants through an exercise where they envisioned the lives they wanted to be living — first 10 and 20 years in the future, and then closer to the present. What you’re building now is the foundation for where you’re going, and the first step in making short-term decisions is figuring out where you want to be headed in the long run. What do you want to be building towards?
Some of Cassandra’s advice (things to watch for along the way!):
- Build career allies: mentors and friends, HR departments, and invest in a coach (and see if your employer will pay for it
- Get people talking about what keeps them excited. A great question to build connections: what are the things that keep you up at night?
- Be a person who actually listens. It’ll help you build connections and it’ll give you lots of great insights. There are so many problems in business that could be solved if we just sat down and listened.
- Write down your dream job description, and then score yourself in each area it requires you to be proficient in, and then have your boss score you.
- Most of the time companies aren’t hiring just to hire someone. They’re trying to find swiss army knife experts who can help solve problems — so learn how to solve problems!
- Reach out to people on LinkedIn and ask them for a 10 minute call. Make it clear you aren’t selling anything, and that you just want to learn more about what they do. Don’t take without giving something back. Active listening is a free way to do that — it’s a gift.
- Don’t wait for the right opportunity to build a perfect career. Start right now.
- Find out what people are dreaming about, and find out what your gifts, skills, and talents are, and bring them together and then find an amazing job that helps you use them to create value.
- Dream makers are often also rain makers.
Want to put this into practice? Sit down with a pen and a paper and ask yourself the following questions (and answer them in as much detail as possible!):
- What do you want to be doing in 20 years?
- What do you want to be doing in 10 years?
- What do you want to be doing in 5 years?
- What do you want to be doing in 2 years?
- What do you want to be doing in 1 year?
- What should you be doing in 6 months that’s moving you in that direction?
Your job is a sandbox in which to conduct lots of really interesting experiments, and a startup works really well for this, because startups move really quickly and deal with problems that don’t have easy answers. It’s a great sandbox to play in (and hopefully not take yourself too seriously). — Cassandra LeVan