Career Keystone - People
Great engineering is a team sport. You can’t do great engineering alone. People empower you. They guide you. They fund the projects. You need people to win! Great career success depends on the people involved in your work. How are people interwoven into your career trajectory? Read on to find out.
The three laws of career growth are:
For most people, it’s easy to focus on one or two of these laws. If you want to maximize your career growth and world impact, you need to cover all three.
These laws apply to software engineers, but they also apply in any line of work. I use these three laws as an entrepreneur, as an artist, as a project manager, as a mentor, and as a software engineer.
The Second Law - People
Having a successful career depends on how well you know and work with people.
Which people are inseparable from a successful career? The people you work for, the people you work with, and the people who fund your work. Even the most minimalist businesses have all these three categories.
The people you work for are the ones whose problems you are solving. Ideally, these would be your direct customers. You are making their lives better, simpler, and more joy-filled with what you are creating. They are the ones who are defining and grading the value you provide.
Who do you work with? It’s a bigger circle than you might realize. It includes your immediate team. It encompasses people working in supporting areas of your business. It includes others in the industry whom you learn from. Anyone who mentors or teaches you is a societal coworker. Industry tool creators also count. They massively impact your daily efficacy. Everything that we create in the modern world owes a great intellectual debt to those who created the tools, culture, and paradigms that empower us.
The people who fund your work make it possible to make a living while creating. Without money, your creation engine can’t go far. For some, funding is very direct. Customers pay you for your work. Yet, for most people, funding is indirect and comes from employer paychecks, sponsorships, grants, ad revenue, and other monetization approaches.
To have an uncommonly successful career, you need to build and evolve each of these three types of business relationships. The better you do so, the more success you will have.
How can we master the law of people?
Each of these three types of relationships affords powerful growth paths forward.
Want to better learn to solve people’s problems? That’s the essence of marketing. You must know whose life you are benefitting. You must know their thoughts, feelings, and cravings. You are most able to help them if you use the same tools they use to solve the problem (eat your own dog food). Listen to your customers/users. See what they do. Turn their feedback into practical improvements. Along this path lies customer delight. The better you are capable of delighting your customers, the more personally successful you will be. You can’t have more success unless you improve others’ lives.
Build strong relationships with your teammates. Learn from them. Be humble. Help them succeed. Collaborate on hard problems. Your effective working brainpower is greatly enriched by working with other competent and motivated people.
Find mentors and people in your industry you can learn from. Reinventing the wheel might feel good, but it’s one of the most inefficient ways to learn. The fastest path to learning is to find the best in the field, learn what they do, and then build those same skills, habits, and practices. Once you have learned from some masters, then you will have plenty of mental resources to synthesize your ideal way of working.
How about building stronger monetized relationships?
Cultivate a strong relationship with your boss. Learn their objectives and help them succeed. For most people, a career is more than just a way to make money. It’s a personal expression of a desire to evolve the world in some way. Know what motivates your direct boss, and your upper management. This will give you powerful insights on how to grow and have more world impact. You win when your company and your bosses win.
Learn more monetization techniques and find which works best. Maybe your customers shouldn’t be the ones directly monetizing your creation. Maybe being a content creator and having a platform monetize you will increase the number of lives you can positively impact. Maybe a free product will result in more world impact and more money long-term (see League of Legends and the Free-To-Play Gaming industry, or Churches and Non-Profit Organizations as examples).
Some people have weird relationships with money. By learning how people feel about money and knowing a broad array of monetization pathways, you can find more ways to impact the world while still funding your ability to create.
Where do you apply the law of people?
Everywhere. Every day.
Whenever you’re at work, people are the reason you’re doing what you do. They are the ones who make it possible for your career to exist. People are the ones you are doing work with.
Every day at work put in the effort to build new connections, strengthen your existing ones, and learn more about the amazing incredible people we share the planet with.
The Law of People is the second law of career growth and world impact.
It comes behind the Law of Value since if you have nothing to offer others, you won’t be able to improve anyone’s lives, nor reap the benefits from having enriched others. This is the nature of infants and small children. They have great needs, and very little ability to provide value. Yet, once you provide value, the second key is People.
If you want to create amazing technology, help people get fit, provide capital to businesses, teach transformative life lessons, create artistic masterpieces, or whatever else you want to do, you must master the law of people to maximize your potential to do so.
Focus deeply on discovering and doing those activities that generate that best increase your ability to positively impact people. Learn what makes people tick, what they want, what they hate, what helps them to be their best.
What other techniques do you have for improving your business relationships and impact?
Share them with me in the comments below.