3 Steps for Career and Leadership Development: Listen, Learn, Share

There are three steps for developing your career, no matter what level you are at.

1) Listen – Listen to others. Listen to their advice, direction and feedback.

Whether you’re just starting out at your first job or if you’re a CEO of a company the first step is always listening. On your first day on the job you listen to find guidance. The advice from others will help you to adjust to a new working environment. In order to do a job right you need to be able to listen to directions so you can follow them correctly. Feedback is key for your improvement. You’ll find out where your strengths lie and what areas need improvement.

Being  a good listener is one of the most essential qualities of a leader. You need to let others be comfortable approaching you, knowing you will sincerely listen to what he/she has to say. Listening also opens the door to new ideas where you can spark creativity. And even a good leader needs to be open to listening to feedback to continue to adjust to the needs of the group.

2) Learn – Learn from others and from your own experience.

Listening tends to lead to learning. You first learn by someone else teaching you or sharing stories of past experiences. Learning from other’s experience can give you the advantage of not making the same mistake twice and making smarter decisions at work. Then you learn form your own experience.

Know that no mistake is a failure, it is a learning experience. Learn from mistakes and accomplishments. Expand your horizon to learn more. Explore new areas. Try something new or out of your comfort zone to learn about talents you never knew you had.

3) Share – Share what you have learned with others. Help others to succeed.

Keeping what you have learned isn’t only selfish, it actually holds you back. To be able to move forward in your career, help someone else to succeed. Help them develop their own skills and knowledge to take your place when you take your next career move.

Sharing also pays respect to those who helped you when you started. It helps create create community between coworkers. If you share with others, they will feel loyal to you and share what they know with you.

These three steps continuously cycle throughout career and leadership development. Each time you move up in your career you will use these three steps again. You’ll start over listening to new coworkers or members of a team you now manage. You’ll learn about the company and people you work with and how things are down at this new position. You’ll share information back to your old coworkers or with your new team.

As you develop these skills you will become a better leader. You’ll recognize the need to listen and honestly, some people may be shocked that you actually care to. Gather all the information and experience you can to make yourself diverse. Diversity makes you a stronger candidate and it makes it easier to relate to others. A great leader empowers his/her followers. Empower them by giving them ways to succeed and the tools to do so.

How do you listen, learn and share with your job?

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Dr. Meg Jay from The Defining Decade – 30 Is Not The New 20

Check out my girl, Dr. Meg Jay! She’s on TED talking about her lessons for twentysomethings.

I did a post series on her book, The Defining Decade, where we learned about the importance of using our twenties to build of future in work, family and personal life. Listen to this talk, read some of my posts, and take the time to read The Defining Decade. If you learn and act, you will be better prepared than most of your peers.

“Thirty is not the new twenty, so claim your adulthood, get some identity capital, use your weak ties, pick your family. Don’t be defined by what you didn’t know or didn’t do. You’re deciding your life right now.” ~Dr. Meg Jay

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Where Have I Been!?!?

Oh my goodness it feels like years since I’ve written a new post! I apologize to all of you readers and I thank you for the continued support of comments and views while I was away. And a very merry welcome to new followers!

As you may know, I am a production assistant for Sesame Workshop, meaning I work at Sesame Street helping with a variety of tasks to make creating the show possible. The last few weeks have been crazy busy! We’ve been at the studio creating new pieces for the show. Although I can’t give you any clues as to what we did, I can tell you that I am surrounded by so many creative and talented professionals. The team never seizes to amaze me, the writers especially. The writers are so talented in creating content that is educational and entertaining for children, but also have content for the parents, guardians, babysitters, nannies, teachers or whoever is watching the children.

Since I’ve been away so long, I thought I would share with you the type of work I have been doing while I was away…

Studio

Our studio is at Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens. The studio has been there from the very beginning! When we are shooting at the studio I have a variety of tasks to complete so everyone else can do their job smoothly. Let me give you a generally run through of my day…

The day before I will usually receive the running order. The running order is basically our shooting schedule for the day. I print and distribute copies to everyone the day before so they know if there have been any changes and what to have ready first. Some people receive timed running orders, which are the same thing but someone has written the actual times of when we should be doing what and how long it should take. This is how the producers, stage manager, director and a few others can see if we’re on time or not.

In the morning I come in and immediately check my email. Even though I handed out the running orders the night before anything can change in a matter of hours… minutes really. Sometimes there are no changes and sometimes I have to start all over again. Either way, in the morning I hand out any running orders to people who weren’t there the day before and put up two extra large printed copies on the studio doors and talent doors. During the day the production stage manager will cross out what we’ve completed so everyone knows where we are. And it’s a real motivator to see how much we’ve done!

In addition to my running around with running orders (see what I did there 😉 ) I set up snacks and waters in the control room, hand out walkie talkies, refill water coolers and make sure the stage manager has waters on set for the talent. You may have seen my quality snack presentation on my Instagram. These tasks are small but I take pride in them. The little things need to get done so the big project can be fully functioning.

At a break before lunch I check in to see who needs lunch orders. There might be a vocal recording or meeting during lunch, these people will need personal lunches ready for them. These people could be talent, producers, directors, clients, international partners… basically there’s a potential I’m getting lunch for someone who is important. I need to coordinate my time to make sure I can get all the lunch orders at a time that is not interrupting their work schedule, order the food with enough time for it to arrive on time, and set it up before the lunch break. Taking these lunch orders gives me an opportunity to meet some pretty amazing people. Taking lunch orders and going on coffee runs is how I first met a lot of people at Sesame who are the reason why I work here.

The rest of the day is a little less planned out. I can get a random phone call to go on a run to pick something up for the director or an email saying we’re making changes that I need to notify people of. Sometimes I have time to observe on set. I learn so much from just observing. It’s also a great time for people to learn more about me by coming over chatting when they have a break.

Studio time can be a little hectic. I can wake up at 5am and not be back in my precious bed until after midnight. Normal call time for me is 7:30am at the studio, but depending on the work load I might come in earlier to set up. A normal wrap time can be from 6pm – 9pm. On long days we work more than twelve hours. I’ve learned how to get into a routine to keep me going for an entire week. You learn to adapt your lifestyle to what work asks of you. There are weeks when I’ll wake up, go to work, go home, have dinner, shower, go to bed and never see my roommates. It can be tiring but studio time is my absolute favorite! I would rather be on set than anywhere else!

Gala

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I was asked to help the stage manager for our Gala. You may have seen my pictures on Instagram for this as well. I was an assistant stage manager for the Sesame Workshop benefit dinner where we honor people for the extraordinary achievements and raise money for Sesame productions. The Gala is basically a dinner and a show. We have celebrity hosts, Muppet bits and a musical act. This year we had George Stephanopoulos and Ali Wentworth as our hosts and the PS22 Chorus for the musical act. A stage manager’s job is to make sure the show runs smoothly and talent has their cues. This was a one day project so we arrived early for a meeting with the director. When I say “we”, I mean the 3 camera men, the teleprompter, the other assistant stage manager, the stage manager, the assistant director, the director and myself. The director went over the script with all of us to share his vision of when shots and entrances would take place. I was out in charge of all the Muppeteer entrances. I marked up my script to see who had to be where, when and with what.

I loved working the Gala because I had never done it before. It was kind of similar to my theater experience in high school, but I was never actually a stage manager. It gave me new exposure to something that I think I could do one day.

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks but I love the chaos. The constant need of things getting done gets my adrenaline pumping so I can keep going throughout the day. What I’ve learned from my time at Sesame Workshop is to do everything that is asked of you to your best potential and do it with a smile.

If you have a job that at first glance might not look too important, look again. You’ll be surprise how much you would be needed if you weren’t there. Make an impression by taking yourself and your job seriously. Go above and beyond the normal. It’s a great opportunity to show your potential, but most importantly you will be happier at your job.

Quick Tip #0026

Keep everything!

You never know when you’re going to have to refer back to something. Someone may ask you a question where you’ll need to pull up an old document or even refer back to an old e-mail. Another co-worker showed me her work flow once…

For her e-mail she created a folders for projects and co-workers. This way she was able to quickly find an old e-mail.

For important documents that were updated regularly she saved them with the day’s date. Every time she made an edit she would “save as” and update the date. The old dates were placed in an archive folder.

Archive folders and organizing e-mails with folders can really be a life saver.

Free Lunch Or Coffee, Should You Take It?

Go to Bridgehead.

Go to Bridgehead. (Photo credit: emilybean)

You’re asked to go on a coffee or lunch run for one of your supervisors and they say, “Get yourself something.”

This is a debate I have been having with myself for a long time. Should I respond with the polite “No, thank you” my parents taught me to respond with or do I accept the offer?

I have had this debate with some of my friends. Some say that if they do not take the offer the person gets offended. Others think it is respectful to politely decline the offer.

Fellow young professionals, what would you do?