Five Things We All Deserve in Our Work

For the first time in a while I’m on the job market looking for my next opportunity. I’m excited and I have a good deal of flexibility when it comes to compensation and the role but there are a few “really want to haves” wherever I might land over these next few months. So here is my list of “Five Things We All Deserve in Our Next Career.”

Work with a Purpose. I’m spoiled. I love working on projects that keep me awake at night – projects that stir my passion and heart. Don’t mistake this means I can only work for nonprofits. In fact, many of my for-profit stops had a mission focus in their work: Apple “think different”, Bluetooth “connecting the world without wires”, and even SpiderOak “encrypt everything.” All of these are in addition to Water.org, a true cause, “safe water and the dignity of a toilet for everyone in our lifetime.” Make the mission bigger than one product or the next sale, and your staff will respond.

Big Challenges. I’m at my best when I’m trying to solve a big challenge. The way I think, my approach to planning and brainstorming all make me more effective when trying to move an entire market, as opposed to getting a narrow market of prospects to buy one thing. When I look back on Bluetooth, I see that was a very big challenge. Back in 2002 the future of Bluetooth was very much uncertain; it took a great team to avoid failure and make room for the success we see today. Big challenges are the ones worth solving.

Embracing Risk. When it comes to growing a business if you do the same things as everyone else, how can you expect any different results? You can’t. A cause/product/company can only grow if the leadership is willing to embrace and encourage measured risk-taking. It’s the “fail fast, fail often” mantra of the technology industry. But I would add, take ten average sized risks on projects/ideas is WAY better than taking one with a lot more risk. As a marketer, think of yourself as a venture capital firm: invest a small amount in ten deals expecting one to work and nine to flame out instead of a one investment and hope to get lucky. Stick your neck out, you will do better than you think .

Partner Engagement. Most every big problem I’ve worked on needed a partner strategy to be effective. Let’s face it, in today’s world there are very few big problems that can be solved by one team or one company. Much of the marketing success of Water.org was built on partnerships. We worked with other nonprofits, press, Hollywood, and of course the big social platforms Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to affordably tell the world about the water crisis, and how together we could solve it for good. There is some art in doing this well and it starts with thinking of how your partner can benefit from the partnership before you do.

Autonomy & Trust. I expect my staff to do what we plan to do and I fully plan to the same for my management. It’s crushing to me when I get micro-managed. My best results come from building a plan, getting management to buy off on that plan, and then having the autonomy to get things done. I’m cool with benchmarks and metrics, checkins, and course corrections, but I like to have the room to think, do, and innovate. There have been several projects in my career that spanned multiple years and required patience and long term commitment to a distant goal. You have to have patience to see a plan through to the end. Don’t worry, I’ll let you know if I need help, but please don’t stop by desk every day asking me if I’m done yet. We want to be trusted to do the right thing.

So that’s my list. Notice compensation, title, stock options, work location, dress codes, free food, vacation policies and the like aren’t on the list. We all want more than that; give us something more and we will respond with our time, passion, and commitment.