How do I get better at my job?

Ed Zitron ‏ @edzitron: how do i get better at my job. any job.


A) you have to love the product. If you don’t, then get a new job. The economy is ripening now. If you like comic books, get a job at a comic book company. If you like advertising, get a job at an ad agency. But only get a job at a company where you love the product. In the early 90s I LOVED the TV shows on HBO. I watched every one. So I got a job at HBO. The lowest level job there, and I was still unqualified for it. But I loved it.

B) Know the history of the company. Who were the prior CEOs, who was the founder. How did they beat the competition? Know the history of their marketing campaigns. Ask the head of marketing why they chose different marketing campaigns. Learn whatever you can about the company.

C) Work hard but give your boss credit for everything you do. There is absolutely no upside in taking credit for yourself. ONLY give your boss credit. He gives you the sandbox to make things happen. If you build a castle, give it to him. Tomorrow he will give you a bigger sandbox.

D) Study the entire industry. If you are in the search engine space, learn about every search engine before Google. Learn the patents. Learn the failed business models. Start to brainstorm on what a newer and better search engine can look like. Learn all the competitors. What makes them work. What do they do differently than your company? Even go to lunch with the competitors and find out what makes them tick. Examples: when I worked at HBO I went out to lunch all the time with people from Showtime or MTV. When I started my first company, Reset, I would go to lunch with the CEOs of my competitors whenever I could. Your best sources of knowledge about the industry will be your frenemies.

E) BECOME the company. Say “we” instead of “you” when describing what the company should do next. Feel the “we”. The company is you. Be a loyal soldier. Fight to the death. We are fighting for liberty and the pursuit of happiness and the success of our company. Feel it.

F) LEAVE. Always find out what your value is in the marketplace. Always test the waters everywhere else. Always continue to network throughout the industry so you can leave when you need to. The world has turned sideways from vertical advancement to horizontal. People advance by either moving sideways or starting their own businesses. Every two years, at least, you should be totally prepared to do one or the other. No matterhow much I loved HBO, for instance, I took at least one job offer while I was there (which parlayed into a 60% salary increase at HBO) and then two years after that I left to do my own company – building websites for entertainment companies.