#4: What I Would Have Done Differently When Starting My Career in My 20’s

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Welcome to the People First Culture Podcast with me, Michel Falcon, where I share lessons I’ve learned and those of others on how to build a more purposeful business and career. Hello, everyone. And welcome to another episode of the People First Culture Podcast, I’m Michel Falcon and this is episode four. Each podcast that I record has one key goal that’s to share lessons on how to grow a great business and career. I share some lessons of my own, but sometimes I reach out to guests, people that I know to be able to ask them to unpack and share the lessons, the strategies, the tactics that they are using within their business and within their career so that we can share them with you and you can apply them within your business and your career. Pretty straightforward. If you haven’t subscribed to the podcast, please do so wherever you listen to your podcasts. If you liked prior episodes, please leave a review. If you like this episode, please leave a review, it helps us create more awareness about the podcast.

This episode took me a while to put together. Because I wanted to go deep into thought in what I would have done over again or differently in my 20s as I was building my career. I’m 35 now and as I was brainstorming some of the things that I would change, I was stuck. Not because there’s nothing I wouldn’t change. Of course, there are many which I’m going to share. I was stuck because I wanted to make it relevant to anybody listening and perhaps some things that you might feel you’ve experienced in your career, or maybe you’re just getting your career started. I wanted to make things practical for you. So, that’s what this episode is about. If you have questions that you believe I might be able to shed some light on, feel free to tweet at me at Michel Falcon or email me. My email is we michel@michelfalcon.com. DM on Instagram, send a courier pigeon, do something to get ahold of me.

I’m Michel Falcon everywhere. As long as you know how to spell Michael, you should be able to find me. So, this episode is one that I really enjoyed recording, and it is going to share what I would have done differently growing my career in my 20s. Now, whether you’re in your 20s now or older or younger, it’s almost irrelevant regarding the age. The only reason that I referenced my 20s is because that’s when I really started focusing on my career. As you may know, my career started working for a medium sized company in Vancouver called 1-800-GOT-JUNK in my early 20s. I started there in the call center, answering a 100 calls a day, worked my way up. And I am where I am now because many of the things that I did in my 20s.

When I was reflecting what I would do differently, the first thing that came to mind kept coming back to me was something that I learned from someone named Cameron Herold. He is the former COO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK. He took them from 7 million to 127 million, I believe, in six years or so. I may be slightly off with those numbers, but it’s in that vicinity. He had shared something with me many years ago regarding parenting. He said, and I’m paraphrasing, “When you have kids, you shouldn’t focus on their weaknesses and get them tutors, you should focus on their strengths and get them coaches.” And that really hit home for me because we’ve been trained that you get tutors for your weaknesses, but what about your strengths? You shouldn’t ignore those, you should probably amplify those. So, that’s the first thing that I would have done differently as I was getting my career started was being self aware of what my strengths are.

Now, whether your strengths have been fully baked or you’re just starting to realize them, every single human being has a strength in one regard or another. Not everyone spends time discovering them, getting intimate with them and truly understanding them. So, if I was to do my career over again, I would be more self-aware on what my strengths are, which would lead to the second thing. In my 20s, that’s when digital online courses were just starting to become popular, but definitely not as mainstream or accepted as they are today. But if I was to have been more self-aware of what my strengths were, I would have saved more money to be able to purchase digital courses, to be able to expand my strengths. So, for example, let’s say one of my strengths was public speaking. I would not go and ignore that, that’s a strength of mine and focus just on my weaknesses. I would acknowledge that, you know what? Public speaking is a strength of mine because I’ve had individuals tell me that I’m a good speaker.

Well, how can I bring that to the next level? How can I level up? Is there a course online that will sharpen my skills to become even a better public speaker? And there certainly is. There was then and there definitely is now. So, what you can do now, whether you are just starting your career or you’re living a very fruitful career now is get very, very clear on what your strengths are and support those strengths by amplifying them with even more resources. And courses these days are affordable. You don’t need a full-time coach or mentor. There are things that you could find online through Udimy and many other websites, many of which are subscription-based or you pay for the course individually. Those are two things that I would do.

The third thing is I would have spent way less time on Facebook and Instagram, and I would have spent more time on LinkedIn and Twitter. So, let’s unpack LinkedIn first. LinkedIn, it’s bizarre for me. It’s valuable, but it’s almost something that I ignore. I you don’t spend enough time on and I’m actually giving myself advice now in that I need to spend more time on LinkedIn for obvious reasons. I think every professional has a LinkedIn account. I think the majority of accounts are active. Now, is majority 55% or 85%? I’m not sure, but it is the professional social network, as we know, but I would spend more time connecting with people on LinkedIn. Now, this is how I connect with people on LinkedIn. Let’s say I wanted to learn better customer experience practices for my restaurant business. And when I ask myself who or what company could I learn from, I identify that, you know what? Lululemon is doing a kick-ass job at their online and offline customer experience.

I would go to LinkedIn, I would use the search bar. I would filter by company and I would search Lululemon. That’s going to generate a result, a report that will filter who in my network, first connections, second connections, third connections on LinkedIn work for Lululemon. That will filter a report for you and then you can see who am I connected with that knows these individuals. So, let’s say my friend, Bobby is a connection to someone named Lisa who works at Lululemon. I would go reach out to Bobby and ask, “Hey, this is what I’m trying to achieve. I understand that you know Lisa, is there a chance you can make an introduction? This is what I’m trying to learn.” And that is how I would have leveraged LinkedIn better in my 20s to really level up my career.

Now, for Twitter, same thing. Twitter is the best social network, full stop, from career to comedy, to sports, to news. I don’t believe they’ve done a great job at educating people on how to properly use the platform so there is a bit of friction, which is why you might not spend as much time on Twitter as you do on Instagram. The great thing about Twitter too, is you can just be a bystander. You don’t have to engage, you can just scroll and read and consume, but I would do the same thing. I would go to Twitter user search function and type in Lululemon and see who has Lululemon in their bio or who is constantly tweeting about Lululemon and reach out to them. But it’s best to reach out in a warm fashion. So, trying to find somebody who you know, that nosy individual that you’re trying to reach, that is just connections 101.

I wish I spent way more time on LinkedIn and Twitter than I did on Facebook and Instagram. Next, I wish I was more comfortable in my own skin and I think that’s a direct correlation to being confident. Today, I’m much more confident, therefore, I’m more comfortable saying things, sharing my opinions and other things, but that comes with time. I don’t think we’re just born or naturally progressed because we get older being comfortable in our own skin. There are still times today where I second guess whether should I tweet that out because what if I get ridiculed. One day, if somebody rubbed somebody the wrong way, what if, a bunch of what ifs. So, I wish I had found a way of being more comfortable in my own skin earlier and I don’t know how one can do that without having a lot of self-confidence.

For me, my confidence was derived from achievement. Now, is that a good thing or a bad thing? I don’t know. As I say this, I’m questioning what a therapist might say, but I am who I am and I’ve learned to accept that. And I’m now probably in the best place I’ve ever been when it comes to my confidence and being comfortable in my positioning and things. Next is probably, not probably, it is the most important thing that I wish I had known. I was younger developing my career. Only open your mouth when you know a topic very well. There’s a quote, which is one of my favorite quotes. It goes like this, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” You don’t need to have an opinion on everything. Society isn’t asking all of us to have an opinion on everything. I like the idea of remaining silent when I don’t know what I’m talking about if I don’t know the subject.

Whether it comes to business or societal issues, I just remain quiet. And I rather know a few things very well, then many things at a moderate level. I remember being younger and feeling the pressure to have an opinion on things that were brought to my attention or a dialogue that was within my sphere of influence or around people that were having these conversations. I felt like there was a need for me to have contributed to these conversations. Today, if you asked me my opinion on something and I have no idea what the subject is about, I will tell you confidently, I don’t know anything about that subject. My opinion’s irrelevant. If I know a little bit about the thing that you’ve engaged me in, I will preface it by saying, I don’t know a lot about this topic, this is what I know. So, I believe this is my opinion.

If I do know a topic very well, you likely know that I know it well, maybe because you’re a friend or we’ve worked together and I will speak very confidently in that. So, when it comes to business, anything related to company culture, customer experience, and employee engagement, that’s my thing. I will speak to it very fluidly. But when it comes to things like finance, which I’m no dummy, I can read a P&L and understand a balance sheet, that’s that mid tier where I know enough I’ll contribute, but I will preface it and saying, I need this presented to me in layman’s terms and here’s my opinion based on what I have gathered. And that allows somebody to be corrected.

When you approach a topic that you’re fairly familiar with, with your guard kind of half up, that gives people the permission to coach you on it. But if you go into every conversation, acting like you know everything, that’s going to repel people from wanting to work with you, from wanting to correct you as well. So, be careful with how you frame your opinion. And if you don’t know anything about the topic, I’ll give you an example in my business, I do not know, I know more now today, but at the beginning, I did not know how to build a supply chain. So, I went to experts who did. Somebody named Tyler, who I had a conversation with today, who used to work for A&W and is now a consultant. I went to my friend, Chef Guillermo Russo, who has done this before. So, I approach it and say, this is what I’m trying to solve. I have no opinion on this, I don’t know how this is done.

And that is not showing weakness or vulnerability, it’s just honest and admirable. Those are the things that I wish that I had learned or done more of when I was in my earlier 20s. Let me know what you think. Leave a comment, leave a review. Do you feel like you could have done things better earlier in your career? Are you still trying to find your footing within your career? And if so, what are some of the things that you’re struggling with? Where do you excel? I am Michel Falcon everywhere online. Thank you so much for dedicating a little bit of time to listening to this episode. If you liked it, subscribe to wherever you listen to your podcasts and write a review if you learned a thing or two. Thank you so much. And you can go to my website, michelfalcon.com. You could share your email address so that you’re alerted every time I release a podcast or some sort of valuable education. Until next time, everyone, thank you so much for your time. Take care. If you made it this far, thank you. Please consider leaving a rating and review for my podcast.


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