If I only knew this when I started work . . .

Starting out at work can be intimidating and it is easy to forget to be yourself. In this post I share a few other pointers for those early days at work . . .

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Business is a game. It shouldn't be taken too seriously but should be seen as something in which we should play and experiment.

When I started work everything looked so professional and clever. The managers seemed to have superpowers and spoke the language that was alien to me. It was really intimidating and before long I noticed that I was trying to emulate them to fit in.

By doing so I became somebody but wasn't really me. Yes, I looked fantastic in my business suits. Yes, I carried the obligatory Filofax (think PDA, that's dated me). Yes, I could carry out what seemed like smart conversations about how we are performing versus strategy, and why we are so excited about our new innovations.

The problem was that when I was pretending to be somebody else, I could only bring a small part of my unique genius to the game.

What I've learnt over the years is that to be great at work you have to be great at being you.

1. Be you. Play to your strengths and do them brilliantly and don't spend time working on your weaknesses. Just create a role where they don't matter.

2. Manage your boss. If they are crap it's your fault. They need feedback to grow and they need to understand the impact they’re having on the business. If you can’t let them know how can they do their job?

3. Do what you love. When jobs feel like they are hard work we have got something wrong. If you do what you love and what you’re great at everything you do will shine.

4. Don't chase the cash. People who are only interested in the money they make, make terrible decisions about the work they do and often get nothing back from their days in the office but money. It's a terrible waste of life.

5. Grow you. One of the most amazing things about work is that it presents countless opportunities for you to experiment and learn. Be ruthless about your growth and demand feedback every day. If you do so there is no limits on how far you can go.

6. Make every day count. One third of your days on this planet are workdays. To not fully live on those days is a terrible waste of life. Every day you turn up to work think about how you can make it extraordinary and be singularly focused on doing so.

7. One big thing. Before going to email or meetings or any other distractions at work, sit quietly and ask yourself “what is the one big thing you need to do today?” If it’s down to you then make sure it's achieved, and that you are really creating impact.

8. Digital detox. Answering email is not your job. Do not respond to it when it nags you but when you decide the time is right. You are in charge not your pinging inbox. Try not engaging with anything electronic until at least 1 PM and see how much more you get done.

9. Interview regularly. This isn't about disloyalty it's about seeing how your job compares to the rest of the world and honing your brand. If you do interview for a job and you're so excited you can't turn it down, jump. Many is the time however that you will realise that the job you are doing is actually rather good.

10. Craft your role. There is no such thing as a perfect job. Ask any restaurant critic, beer taster, swimsuit model photographer, pilot and you will hear it's the same for all. Our task is to take the job that we have and craft it into the one that fits us best. Nobody’s asking to do that for you so get on with it.

11. Play the game. I love to see what I can get away with. I love to see if I can break the rules of the game. I love to push the boundaries to see ways that are really possible. Play the game; it is yours to own.


Chris Baréz-Brown

Author, speaker and founder Upping Your Elvis, Upping Your Elvis

Best selling author, speaker and business beatnik Chris Baréz Brown has a rather unusual view of the world in that he knows that everybody is perfect. As we grow, develop and socialise we can lose touch with that brilliance and often become somebody we’re not. Chris founded his Dorset based company Upping Your Elvis in 2009 to help people reconnect with their inner genius and once again become confident in being who they truly are. The Guardian recently described Chris as a long haired, twinkly eyed cross between Richard Branson and a wizard.


Go to the profile of Charles Thiede
over 7 years ago
Chris is this is great advice for anyone. This is a powerful video to consider as an alternative view. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTmvA5Gw0Bk
Go to the profile of Chris Baréz-Brown
over 7 years ago
Glad you liked it. Great video, thx for sharing. Certainly a perspective that is powerful to remember. cx
Go to the profile of Victoria Ophield
over 7 years ago
Awesome piece. I went through a similar experience early in my career - it took longer to unpick someone else's bad habits than it has since to form my own! It's only once you get into your own groove that you can truly understand what works for you and find something you love. Really wise words - thanks Chris.
Go to the profile of Chris Baréz-Brown
over 7 years ago
Thanks Victoria. Glad you agree, Chris
Go to the profile of Dr. Mandy Lehto
about 7 years ago
Chris, this is a great piece. I'm nodding repeatedly as I recall my former investment banking career (your reference to your suits, that was SO me too. Argh). Now, the best test for a piece of work is, can I be my best self in this opportunity? Then it's an easy hell yes. Otherwise, it's a hell no. There's no such thing as a hell maybe. I'm looking forward to your next LifeLabs piece. Thanks.