One of the joys of my 31-year career at IBM was the many wonderful friends I made, several of whom I still keep in touch with. People often marvel over my tremendous 31-year stint at IBM, but you believe my good friend Steve Schumer has been there 40 years and is still growing strong?
Steve has had an illustrious career with “Big Blue,” but it did not come without some struggles and roadblocks. Yet Steve remains an outstanding professional with an undying positive attitude.
Recently, Steve presented his “4 Lessons from (almost) 40 Years” at the Hillsdale, New Jersey Career Networking Group. Steve sent me the link to the presentation on Youtube, and since career development programs for companies and organizations is one of my consulting offerings and since I consider Steve a close friend, I took a listen.
It truly was an excellent and very useful session! I will summarize his 4 lessons below and also include a link to the video which I strongly encourage you to listen to. And Steve shared so much about his own personal journey will so many cool stories, the time watching the video flew by very quickly
Lesson 1: Pursue something you’re passionate about. Absolutely, you are going to do your best work and progress in your career if you do something you truly love. When I do career mapping modules for my clients, often I discover that their most successful people are truly passionate about their work and their field. I once mentored a young man who was miserable in a high paying job that he cared nothing about, but when he went into a lower paying field he really loved, vocational joy returned to his life.
Lesson 2: Differentiate yourself by your questions and points made. With hundreds of people applying for and competing for every job, how will you differentiate yourself from the masses? Steve shared the importance of really researching the company, the industry and the job well so that you shine in the interview by asking intelligent and relevant questions. He shared some great stories of how he did this in his early job search.
Lesson 3: Don’t take no for an answer. Steve shares that one of the top 10 qualities for long-term selling success, including selling yourself, is tenacity; the strength to not give up, even against opposition. Steve is not advocating being argumentative here, but does share several examples of standing strong and not giving up, including a cool story about his son interviewing for a job.
Lesson 4: Personalize your network. In terms of connecting with others during a career search, never send out mass standard letters or emails. Instead, take the time to add a unique personal touch to your networking with each person. Steve shared how he utilized personalized networking during a very dark period of his career when he was being laid off, but managed to defy all odds and stay at IBM. What is cool is, after I listened to the recorded session and emailed Steve, he was able to retrieve the personal email he sent to me 11 years ago when he was going through this tough challenge.
Whether you are early, mid, or late career, do take the time to watch this insightful presentation (link) by Steve Schumer.