Business leaders share 3 crucial strategies to accelerate your career

I was lucky to stumble upon Issue 1 of the Collective Hub magazine in an airport lounge in 2013. Since then, I’ve been inspired by the stories of creativity, innovation, adventure, entrepreneurialism and social change they feature.

Last Friday, I went along to their one-day annual Kick. Start. Smart. conference in Melbourne. The speakers were diverse, ranging from the founders of social enterprise Thankyou, to the MD Australia of online accounting software Xero, to celebrated artist David Bromley.

Though primarily aimed at entrepreneurs or aspiring entrepreneurs, there was plenty of inspiration and education for employees too. (It surprised me to see that a meaningful portion of the attendees were employees, based on an informal show-of-hands. And at the Brisbane conference, apparently employees accounted for around 50% of the crowd!)

So if you're a high achiever who wants to realise your professional and personal potential, here are 3 strategies from the speakers that will help you get where you want to go, faster.


1. You own your career

This came through loud and clear as the most important message that Trent Innes, Managing Director of Xero Australia, wanted to impress on the audience.

As Trent said,

“Jobs will come and go, mentors will come and go. You own your career.”

Though that may sound obvious, how many of us allow our career direction be determined by our employer's needs, society's expectations, or even our own lack of clarity or confidence? How much are you investing in your own professional and personal development rather than relying on your employer to drive what and when you learn?

Are you currently the driver or passenger of your career?


2. Define your personal brand

According to Dan Gregory, CEO of The Impossible Institute, your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room, and the stories they tell about you. This applies whether you’re a company or an individual. So if you’re an employee, you have a personal brand too – the question is whether you’re actively influencing it.

Dan offered three key questions that you can use to define your personal brand:

  1. What do you stand for? Identify what your ‘why’ is and what your values are
  2. Who do you stand with? Develop relationships that propel your career forward by aligning your actions with what your boss, your customers and other stakeholders value the most
  3. How do you stand out? Identify what makes you distinctive and how you can build the extraordinary into everyday

What’s your personal brand right now? What do you want to be known for?


3. Close the gap between your intention and action

Phill Nosworthy, founder of Switch, Inc., believes that the biggest opportunity in life, business or anything you do is to close the gap between your intention and action.

This is critical because ultimately your actions define your impact.

Ironically, we tend to judge others by their actions but we judge ourselves by our intentions.

Phill suggested that the size of the gap between your intentions and your actions is the size of the dysfunction in that area of your life. He invited us to consider, for example, “Imagine if your finances were a better reflection of your intention for your finances? Imagine if your health was a better reflection of your intention for your health?”

We all have areas of our lives where the gap between our intention and action is larger than is comfortable to admit. And in those circumstances, Phill has some words of encouragement too, saying that you’re only ever able to close the gap if you’re gentle enough with yourself to allow yourself to be a work in progress. Phill spoke about the big rewards that can come from taking risks and embracing failure. He believes that “growth doesn’t come from getting it right, it comes from having to improve things”.

Where is the largest gap between intention and action in your life? What small step can you take to begin to close that gap today?


Which of these 3 strategies would have the most impact for you right now? Share your perspectives in a comment below.


P.S. Want more insights from Kick. Start. Smart.? Read the inspiring story behind social enterprise Thankyou and lessons shared by the co-founder and Managing Director, Daniel Flynn, in this article here.