People with Talent (Like Us) | 10 Pillars to Build Your Dream Career
A specialist in leadership and talent management, Maria da Glória Ribeiro is the Founder and Managing Partner of Amrop Portugal. With a Masters in Psychology from the University of Porto, and specialized in business organizational development, she has over 20 years’ experience in strategic consulting and organizational behavior. She is called upon to evaluate, guide and recruit talents for companies from diverse professional sectors. She has been recognized as one of the main Portuguese headhunters by Nancy Garrison-Jenn, (The Global 200 Executive Recruiters).
Based on her recently published book, Maria Da Gloria presents 10 pillars to build a fulfilled professional career, each drawing inspiration from a true life story. Telling Francisco’s story, this first chapter looks at Life Strategy.
In my previous book I Am My Biggest Project readers most liked the stories I told to support various aspects of the ‘socio-professional I’. In my second book, from which this new series is drawn, I start each chapter with stories from people who have marked me throughout my career, protecting the names of those involved.
I will share ten themes that I believe are fundamental to constructing a professional career.
Life strategy. Motivation. Talent. Risk-taking. Persistence and passion. Emotional intelligence. Self exposure and abundance. Time and choice. Failure. Uniqueness, and playing a role in the world.
You will meet people who have taken advantage of their original talent and expanded on it to achieve remarkable goals. But I also tell stories of people who serenely let life carry them along like a leaf in the wind.
Throughout my career, I have seen how these pillars influenced people's lives. By telling their stories and talking about these pillars, I hope in some way to help readers to build a unique and coherent professional journey - a motivated and accomplished way of life.
Knowing that we don’t know
As I finish writing, I am myself in a process of intense learning when it comes to people’s attitudes towards the Covid-19 struggle. It seems that those who know the least are the most inclined to predict what is right and wrong.
Few are wise enough to admit that their knowledge is restricted to possible interpretations of medical reports and mathematical modeling. I hope I belong to the group that is aware they know nothing, but I do try to improve my knowledge. I also know that each one of us has to do what we think is right, to be useful, and not enter a state of hibernation.
Because I am certain that the future begins today.
Francisco was born in a city in the Portuguese interior. He grew up in a family that was well-known in the region. His great-grandfather was heir to several generations of influential and highly respected people. He was the first to drive a car through the province, beyond a 100 kilometer radius of Lisbon. In the early 20th century he imported a Fiat. Years later, Francisco felt moved when he saw the very same car at the Caramulo Museum and read his ancestor’s name on the display, described as a pioneer of automotive import in Portugal.
Francisco’s inheritance was mostly non-material. Sure, he had a family lineage and name, but nothing more. Nothing that would allow him to even be in a big city pondering his life choices. However, he decided to rely on himself and go on an adventure — a change. Francisco went to Lisbon to make his mark. He wanted to take anything life had to offer and empower himself. He had to prove to himself that he might be able to create his own future.
He roomed with a woman from his home district, in a suburb of Lisbon. It was as if he’d exchanged all the perks of the land for their opposite. He became, in a sense, the tenant of someone who could once have been a family employee. He didn’t consider any of this to be an obstacle. He made the most of the opportunity to reach his goal: getting closer to the best, most avant-garde music scene.
Go here for the full story on how Francisco moved from a comfortable place into unknown territory and how his self-discovery process led him to become a cutting-edge music brand. How he achieved self-fulfilment by designing his own life.
Most of the time, change isn’t easy. It takes work, investment and risk. We leave our familiar paradigm and jump onto new ground. We leave our comfort zone, the routine in which everything is predictable, controllable and comfortable.
To change, and identify the direction we want our career to take, we need a self-analysis, a critical view. It takes mental lucidity to look in the mirror, identify our profile, know ourselves, our added value and flaws, and understand what we need to do, what skills we need to acquire to shape our future selves.
Sometimes we sense a need for change, but feel it in a whirlwind of emotions. To make the right change implies honest self-reflection. We must think clearly about the reasons for it and the factors to move it forward. These will be as disruptive and fracturing as the change itself. Whether we’re adapting to a new culture or transferring from a traditional industry to an epicenter of innovation and technology.
Talking and touring
Often, the change is made with no defined direction, keeping us stuck in an unmotivating career. But since we haven’t worked out the map, we don’t know where we’re going. However, there is no standard check-list of do’s and don’ts, strengths and weaknesses. Our analysis is unique and takes time to mature.
Of course, reflecting individually doesn’t mean discounting the wisdom of the people around us. These sages are usually people with experience, who have already traveled on the same roads as we have and be our co-pilots. Empathetic people who observe, reflect, and empower others are also wise.
Each of us is the agent of our change, we own the decision to manage our own existence and act. Because without action the decision loses its usefulness.
Perceiving the dynamics of change presupposes that we understand and own the desire for transformation. Change is idealized then mobilized. Let’s take action.
Building a personal brand
Francisco’s story illustrates someone who understood that he had to create himself – construct an image that corresponded to the ‘product’ he sought to be. This demanded deep and honest self-knowledge. From that self-image, he could develop and create his persona, his external image and personal brand.
So it all begins with self-analysis, operates through self-knowledge, and subsequently an ability to strategically define where we want to get to, supporting or leveraging the brand we have created to achieve our goal. Francisco’s goal was to produce his own music. He had to create his own image and raise its reputation.
People who know how to use the concepts of image and reputation to their advantage practically enshrine them. This is personal marketing.
Our personal brand aims to position ourselves in the minds of others as we want to be seen. Developing it involves identifying and communicating the characteristics that make us stand out as relevant, visible, attractive and unique. It reflects who we truly are. It gives us added value in the executive labor market.
Reflect: What sets you apart from the rest? What are your assets? What characteristics make you different? What value do you want to communicate?
Be Your Own Entrepreneur
“Entrepreneurship is the persistent progression towards an innovative solution to a key problem. It’s the constant hunger for making things better and the idea that you are never satisfied with how things are.” (Debbie Roxarzade, founder and CEO of Rachel’s Kitchen restaurant chain).
Definitions of entrepreneurship typically focus on launching and managing companies. Due to the high stakes of a start-up, we can add the notion of ownership. So entrepreneurship distills the characteristics that an individual like Francisco needs for the personal enterprise of self-creation and self-branding. A product, therefore, a differentiated and autonomous form of professional life. This implies risk, determination and courage.
Innovation means making the new viable, creating the means for the invention to serve a concrete objective.
What accomplishes us as human beings?
Daniel Pink is a reference in the world of management and behavior. He has attracted academics and others interested in human behavior with the theories in his New York Times bestsellers. What truly motivates us? What gives us the energy and strength to work towards a purpose? What accomplishes us as human beings?
Daniel Pink realized that traditional theories of motivation, job satisfaction and personal fulfillment did not explain creativity, or the development of work that might not be remunerated accordingly. He compared groups of highly committed individuals with disinterested equivalents. He concluded that it is necessary to increase people’s satisfaction in carrying out their professional tasks.
In this way, people want to carry out their activities with the purpose of personal fulfillment, with the realization of the activities as the main goal rather than money or other extrinsic rewards. Achieving that goal is the engine of motivation, Pink considers. But as we know, talking is easier than doing. How can this motivation be instilled in people?
Pink presents several answers, all of which revolve around the ability to self-motivate and excel, when we find the profession that truly drives us.
We will visit this in our next article.