Romer: The best advice I’ve ever received
I have written previous columns regarding advice that I would, given the opportunity to go back in time, give to my younger self as I entered the workforce. These columns received great feedback and led some to ask about some key lessons and advice that I’ve learned from my mentors.LinkedIn also focused on this topic recently with leaders from various industries sharing their thoughts on the “best advice” they’ve ever received.Advice, left on its own, is simply someone’s opinion. Unless it’s welcomed and searched for, it’s often unappreciated. That being said, I’ve appreciated various opportunities throughout the years to actively search out feedback from mentors in part to ensure I was on the right track in my position and in part as an effort to continually improve and add value to my organization. What better way to make sure your boss is happy with your job performance than to simply ask your boss what they think, or how you could do better, or what approach they might take to solve a problem.The key, of course, is to take your boss’s advice and put it to action. This is common sense, yet a rather rare skill these days.Without further ado, some of the very best advice I’ve received and the lessons that it helped teach me:”Perception is reality”A high school economics teacher reinforced this and it’s stuck with me for years; if people perceive value in you (or your business enterprise), there is value. Conversely, if they don’t, regardless of what you might think, you’ll be in trouble because perception is reality.”Consensus is overrated” Consensus is often valued and many organizations, meetings and companies strive for the mythical consensus. The importance of consensus is reinforced in business school and throughout many organizations. An early boss of mine taught me that this is baloney. Consensus is dangerous and most often results in mediocrity as it forces group-think and is more concerned with feeling good than in producing solid results. When it comes to business, it’s often best to leave your feelings at the door and focus on results, not sacrificing your beliefs on behalf of consensus.”Learn to listen”I had the good fortune to run the CU Ski & Snowboard Club as a college student at CU-Boulder; the club consisted of upwards of 5,000 members and was a business operation operated by a board of student volunteers. The previous president of the club, and to this day a good friend, taught me that not only is it important to listen but he taught me how to listen. The key, as I learned at 19, is to talk less than whomever it is you are talking with. A lesson that often needs constant reinforcement (for me at least), but a valuable lesson none the less. “Follow your passion”Many people here in the Vail Valley can relate to this one. As a kid growing up in Cincinnati, all I ever really wanted was to leave Cincinnati. Don’t get me wrong – Cincinnati is a nice place and a great place to grow up or to raise a family, but it wasn’t for me. My mother encouraged me to follow my dream, which was to live in Colorado. Twenty years later, I’m fortunate enough to have listened to my mother (at least about this). “Work harder than anyone else”This one is directly tied to the “perception is reality” lesson mentioned above. I had a boss who once told me to be in the office at least 5 minutes before them, and stay at least five minutes after they left the office. I took this advice to mean that it’s important to work harder than anyone else, as your boss will notice your habits if you are consistently at work when they are arriving or leaving.”Don’t strive for people to like you, strive for people to respect you”I often think back to something that a mentor told me: Don’t worry about being liked, instead work to have people respect you. In today’s world of Facebook “likes,” it’s easy to get caught up in being liked; however, in business, it’s more important to be respected.”Avoid those that speak loudly while doing nothing”We all know these people that talk a big game but who often don’t do anything other than try to cause problems for others and who almost never offer solutions. As kids, we called them bullies. As adults, we just feel sorry for them. I was fortunate to learn at a young age that you don’t become big by making others small. This advice often comes in handy in the business world.As noted above, advice is meaningless if you don’t do something with it. I’ve tried to learn from my mentors and to put the above advice into action on an ongoing basis.Chris Romer is president & CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership
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