Prudent Advice

Life Lessons for My Daughter

Category Archives: Work

#275 Get the assistant on your team.

In business it always helps to befriend the executive assistant; he or she holds a lot of sway behind the scenes.  Make sure the assistant who orders lunch for your conference gets a plate of food, include him or her in as many business decisions as reasonably possible, and remember his or her birthday.  These are kind gestures with obvious benefits: If the assistant likes you, chances are, the boss will like you.

#234 Take pride in your work.

People will repeatedly tell you that to be truly happy, you must find a job that you love. I sincerely hope that you do. But in case you have to take a less-than-ideal position to pay the bills, there are some things you should know. Avoid any job that you find morally objectionable—you can’t reconcile your values with tasks you find repugnant. But you can earn rewards from a job that you find only mildly tolerable. When you are presented with a challenge and use your skills to meet it, you will feel accomplished, regardless of the task. That feeling is universally valid and undeniably admirable; embracing it will make work a more rewarding experience in the day to day, even if it doesn’t feed your soul.

#230 Politics truly can be a noble profession.

Genuine politics—even politics worthy of the name—the only politics I am willing to devote myself to—is simply a matter of serving those around us: serving the community and serving those who will come after us. Its deepest roots are moral because it is a responsibility expressed through action, to and for the whole.

-Václav Havel

#211 Stop when it’s done.

With any creative pursuit, learning when to stop is part of the challenge; this type of editing can be what separates ordinary from excellent. It’s very easy to make an oil painting muddy, an essay over-complicated, or a stir-fry mushy by not realizing when the work is complete.

#204 Be candid.

Use language that is free from subterfuge to render opinions that are frank, outspoken, and sincere. Choose appropriate moments to do so and strive to be impartial and unreserved. If you can develop consistency and compassion in this regard you will be known as a trusted friend and valued confidant, while simultaneously cultivating an honest and forthright relationship with the observations and emotions roiling about in your own head.