Monday, July 22, 2013

A Major League Insider Tells London School of Economics Grads How To Choose a Career Path

I have long-ago  identified Piipa Malmgren as major league insider. Recently, she spoke at The London School of Economic's graduation ceremony.

In her speech, she provides advice to the LSE grads about their careers, but what I find most fascinating is a footnote she added about how her career started. (Keep in mind this is someone who eventually ended up on the ultimate insider gig, The Plunge Protection Team)
As I said, when I graduated in 1991 it took me a while to realize that the Savings and Loan Crisis would prevent me from getting a job. But, that year I learned what it meant to be really hungry for work and to appreciate the job that I eventually got. As an aside, I also learned that you can, in fact, wear out your shoe leather by going from one dead end interview to another.  I got an LSE degree and a hole in my shoe. Both were valuable.
Here's what she said in the body of her speech about finding a career:
Speaking of impossibility, many of you worry, no doubt, about finding a job given the current state of the world economy. I suggest you reverse your thought process regarding your career. Instead of worrying about the job you need today, think about the life you hope to have in future. Then work backwards. What skills and life experiences will you need to achieve that dream? How much of that dream can be achieved alone? So, start building the foundation and forging the trusted allies you will need to get there.  The world is unendingly complex and yet there are really only two kinds of people out there: the ones that give you energy and the ones that take it away. Ruthlessly surround yourself with the former.

If you do what you love, then success and money will follow, simply because passion alone is a greater driver of success than any material incentive. Whatever your passion is, make it happen. That will save you from waking up one day twenty years from now and asking what the heck happened to all the valuable years that now lie ahead of you.

Don't just accept a job; forge a life path.  This will leave you room to accept some of life's great invitations which are in the habit of arriving unexpectedly and from strange places. If you are building a future then no single job choice can possibly divert you off a destination you believe in and every single interesting opportunity you never considered can help you arrive at that destination with more even more skill and judgment. People will believe in you if you believe in your vision no matter how impossible it might seem now.

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