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LinkedIn CEO Says This Is One Thing MBA's Should Do To Invest In Themselves


By Vishal Chandawarkar, MBA ’20

This blog originally appeared on Vishal’s LinkedIn page. It is republished here with permission. To comment, like, or share, visit the original post

"Let’s do a little exercise.
Set your timer for 15 seconds.
Looking out 40-50 years and looking back on your career, what do you want to say you accomplished?
Start the time and write down an answer."

During my recently completed MBA summer internship at LinkedIn, I asked CEO Jeff Weiner how MBA’s should invest in themselves today to become effective leaders when entering the business world of tomorrow. He started his response with the thought exercise above. 

Jeff continued, "the reason it's 15 seconds is because, if you’ve given it some thought previously and you have a very explicit understanding of the answer to that question, 15 seconds is all it requires.

“I believe with every fiber of my being that you should invest in understanding what it is you ultimately want to accomplish with clarity and specificity.”

It can be tweaked over time and you’re going to iterate on it based on what you experience, but you’re going to be much more likely to make it happen based on having an explicit understanding. You’re going to manifest it in terms of your communication to other people of what it is you want to accomplish and by virtue of them understanding what it is and opening doors for you. You’re going to manifest it in terms of the choices that you make, the priorities you create, and the decisions that you take. 

And I don’t mean you’re going to manifest it in some kind of predeterministic way — you have to work hard to make it happen. Without a level of clarity, though, it becomes very difficult. I’m often surprised about how few people don’t know the answer to that question well into their careers.

Knowing what it is you want to accomplish is a great way to start. Give yourself the time to think through the answer to that question.

And to the extent you don’t have an answer, the corollary is to optimize for both your passion and your skill — not one at the exclusion of the other, which is a very common mistake.

I’m super passionate about the Warriors and I love watching Steph Curry run a team on the basketball court. I am not going to be the starting point guard for the Warriors any time soon, nor am I ever going to be a professional basketball player. 

People might say, “oh you gotta dream!” I agree, but I don’t have the skill set no matter how much I practice and how much I learn basketball — I don’t have the aptitude for it. 

Passion is only half of the equation — the other is skill. 

And there’s a flip side to this. The converse is that you may recognize you’re really good at something and other people may recognize it too by rewarding you with things that make you feel good about yourself in the short term. Over time, you realize you’re not passionate about it. So you wake up 10, 12, 15 years down the road and you’re miserable even though everyone keeps defining you and saying how successful you are by conventional definitions. 

But in here *points to heart* you’re not happy. You’re not passionate about what you’re doing.

You want to optimize for both passion and skill if you don’t know what it is you want to do. Try different things. Try a start up. Try a large company. Try different industries. Try different functional areas. Explore things you recognize you’re naturally good at and can develop the right skills for. Things you’re passionate about. Find things that resonate with you on both of those dimensions.

That’s the answer to the question — that’s how you should be investing in yourself.

One last thing I want to say on this front. It’s interesting to me how often people will prioritize their day, their month, their quarter, or their year in terms of business objectives. Yet they don’t spend one bit of time thinking about their career objectives. That should be flipped.

“Invest in your career objectives, invest in what you ultimately want to accomplish. The rest will take care of itself."

View the original post on LinkedIn