However, the experience at Salesforce was incredible for my growth. We were given the right skills, best practices on deal making and spending a few years there really boosted my resume.
Since leaving, I know exactly what to prepare for my forecast sessions; exactly what to do when I am assigned a new territory; I am able to control deals better and to dedicate my time and attention on the right opportunities.
My market value rose tremendously and my annual income grew more than 200% from 2019 to 2022.
Most people optimize for the day ahead. A few people optimize for 1-2 years ahead. Almost nobody optimizes for 3-4 years ahead (or longer).
The person who is willing to delay gratification longer than most reduces competition and gains a decisive advantage.
I started to think about how I would replicate this success in the next few years?
Right now, I am doing what I can to just get 1% better daily. I read voraciously; listen to several business and personal growth podcasts. I even hired a coach to help me improve my performance at work.
I also regularly sit down with mentors on a quarterly basis. Every year, I also speak with a recruiter who has been in the tech space for more than 20 years to discuss my gaps, and what we can do to fill them.
However, we can only do so much on an individual level.
I am someone who is always thinking about leverage. How do I achieve my goals and learn as much as i can within the shortest amount of time with the least pain?
Leverage comes from being in the right external environment; company; opportunities and having access to the right network and resources.
This will create a system where the effort we put in can yield a larger return.
Here are three levers we can pull to accelerate growth in our prime years
1. Work for great leaders
Our prime years are too short to work for leaders we cannot respect and learn from.
Great leadership makes a massive differencein our growth, career trajectory and performance.
I’ve witnessed two separate teams before. One whose boss is in retirement mode and the other one whose boss is super hungry.
There is a massive difference in the impact on the team when it comes to quality of talent; holding the adjacent teams accountable; coaching and removal of obstacles. This ultimately impacted the skill level, morale and performance of the team mates.
Similarly, I have also seen several people benefit from leaders who coached them well, improved in their skills in such as short period of time and accelerated their careers.
However, I learned recently that other than your direct manager, it is also important to evaluate the broader leadership team.
I am not sure if this is due to bad luck. However, in my past three jobs, all my managers all left before me.
They either got promoted; moved to other roles within the company or left for a faster-growing company.
It was quite frustrating because 50% of why I joined a company is because of the quality of my direct manager.
I shared about this series of unfortunate events with an ex-Tableau leader.
He gave me really good advice which was to focus not only on my hiring manager but the quality of talent in the broader leadership team.
In his words:
“I like the fact that you want to be mentored by your manager so that you can expand your skill sets and knowledge. However, especially in this present climate be cognizant that this may not be in your control. Your manager may get another offer, company may be in reduction mode… So do continue to seek out mentors that you can work and learn from but know that this situation might change.
Therefore, in addition to finding mentors and managers that you can learn from you may want to also see if the company itself has great management in general.
Your pillar (choice of manager) may change but the “super-structure” leadership is also in place to make sure that you are successful and they will pick the right replacement. “
In a high-growth company, your career; learning, and skills rise together with the organization. As I like to describe, you basically 借东风.
In a slow growth or declining one, you are bailing water out of a sinking boat or carrying the company and its weak leaders. Not the most efficient use of your time and effort if you are an ambitious person.
Two young talented people can have vastly different outcomes in three years if one joins a high-growth company and another joins a stagnant one.
To illustrate, when you compare the best performer in a stagnant company versus a high-growth company. The salary might be the same but the opportunities available for advancement and growth are drastically different.
A high performer in a growth company has more leverage. The put in the same amount of effort, and perform at the same level but get disproportionately larger access to good opportunities. This means ultimately their careers will accelerate faster.
This is because as the company expands, new roles and responsibilities may emerge, providing opportunities for career advancement and professional development.
The quality of talent and leaders is often much better too. In a company with ambitious and aggressive goals, weak leadership is extremely visible.
The ongoing tech winter has helped us to identify easily where sustainable growth is.
Want leverage for your efforts and time at work? Place your bets and your future in the right place
3. Surround yourself with highly competent and driven people
There is a buddhist saying which goes like this “Incense wrapped around incense smells of incense; a string binding fish smells of fish”
If one wants to excel, the best thing you can do for yourself is to put yourself in an environment where you are always exposed to other driven people.
These are people who not just sets ambitious goals but are also willing to put in the work and make necessary sacrifices to become better every day.
If someone merely sets goals but does not want to make the proper sacrifices to strategize and learn, they are likely to be someone who has tall poppy syndrome. Or worse, steal your credit for success. Instead of putting effort to improve, he or she might try to discredit you.
To be surrounded by people like that who are entitled and envious can be really stifling and discourage collaboration and excellence.
The right circle of influence raises the bar, helping us to set new, loftier expectations of ourselves. Oftentimes, we don’t know what we are capable of until we see others achieve.
Over the years, my idea of what great looks like has been changing rapidly.
For example, in the past, I thought that earning $300-400k per annum was impressive for a 31 year old. I learned that some were already achieving this at 27 years old!
I’ve always thought of myself as good because I was consistent in overachieving targets in most years.
Then, as I mixed with other people who are high achievers, I realized so what? There are others are doing multi-million SaaS deals, or even starting starting their SaaS companies and they were younger than me. 一山还比一山高
While being inspired by others is good, it is also important to hold on to your own definition of what success is.
For example, I am clear that possessions do not define my worth or idea of success.
This is partly due to my spiritual belief as a Taoist (Value: Simplicity) and also my upbringing where my dad did share something along the lines of – money talks but wealth whispers.
Being able to define factors that can help me do better in my 30s has been a good process for me.
I am now clear on the next steps and directions to take.
“Over the long term, the average person who constantly puts themselves in a good position beats the genius who finds themselves in a poor position. What looks like talent is often good positioning. The best way to put yourself in a good position? Good preparation.”