Category Archives: LinkedIn

Career Advice for My 21 Year-Old Self.


A few weeks back Scott Stratton penned a LinkedIn post entitled “New Grad Advice I Wish I Was Given”.  It was an insightful piece that was dead on and something worthy of sharing with any recent grad you know – although I must admit I thought he was way off-base on the sushi advice.

It got me thinking about the advice I would have given myself as a newly minted graduate.  In a literal stream of consciousness I jotted down, quite haphazardly, things that came to mind in a list that came together in just a few minutes.  No rhyme, no reason.

It also made me wonder why University don’t offer this as a capstone course for all graduating seniors.  As much as you learn in college, you really learn nothing on how it applies to the “real world”.

So, consider this a companion piece to Scott’s sage advice.

New Grad Advice I wish I was Given

1. Your performance review will  have little bearing on your raise, bonus, promotability – those things are determined by a formula in HR.  Your effort, however, will have an enormous bearing on your long term career.  Keep grinding.

2. Your degree is like a new car – it loses half its value after you leave campus.  The last time your degree will mean anything is after you get your first job.  After that nobody cares where you went or what your GPA was. They want to know what you’ve done.

3. The most important part of your education are the relationships you formed with your classmates and faculty. Keep nurturing those relationships.

4. A Harvard degree will start your career on second base.  Most colleges will start you at first.  No degree will hit you a home run. That’s your responsibility.

5. Put your phone/laptop away during meetings. If other things are more important than that meeting then you shouldn’t be in that meeting.

6. If two people in a meeting agree on everything, one of them shouldn’t be there.

7. Don’t be the last one in the office or the first to leave. Don’t be the first one in the office AND the last to leave.

8. You’re smarter than you think, speak up if you have something to contribute.

9. The boss that hired you will like you more than anyone else will. Make him/her glad he/she brought you on board.

10. Make sure that every piece of work you do includes something extra that wasn’t asked for.

11. Calibri, Times New Roman, Courier. Period. Nothing destroys a reputation more quickly than a serious document written in comic sans….unless you’re a bad comic, or a face painter, or making fun of bad comics or face painters.

12. A pie chart is worthless.  A well thought out analysis and recommendation on what the pie chart is telling you is invaluable.

13. A word cloud is just plain worthless.

14. Don’t be the guy that gets sloppy drunk at corporate social events. It’s how you will always be remembered.

15. Your LinkedIn Profile (or resume) should always be up to date.  You don’t know when that next opportunity will be looking for you.  If you haven’t got any updates to make to your resume in a year then you’re not trying hard enough.

16.  Avoid the red-eye flight at all costs.

17. Your place on the totem pole is less about talent and more built on relationships, effort, luck, timing, and asking for the job you think you’re not qualified to do.

18. If you are in the same position for 3 years, you need to find a new job.  You are either not good at that job or at a place that doesn’t reward good work.  Either way, get out*

19. Your boss only remembers what you did for them yesterday, so be sure to remind them of your past experience and accomplishments.

20. When you leave work for the day,  be done with work.  24/7 availability to the company is a fool’s game.

21. Keep a running tally of your achievements as you go. Trust me, you’ll forget a lot at the end of the year during your review.

22. Be your boss’ biggest ally, (I didn’t say biggest suck-up). Support them publicly, critique them privately.

23. When you get to be boss, be your team’s biggest ally. Support them publicly, critique them privately.

24. Once in your life, start your own business.

25.  Don’t be an asshole.

26. You’ll learn more at a start-up in 6 months than you’ll learn at a Fortune 500 in 10 years.

27. A car is a necessary evil and no one is impressed as you think they are with your BMW.

28. The receptionist is the most important person at the company.

29. You’re young, you don’t have a pot to piss in. You have a small window of time to take some risks and it closes quickly.

30. Save 10% of everything you earn in a retirement fund.

31. Travel light.

32. Very few people ever find their dream job.  Find a job that doesn’t suck, that will challenge, inspire, and reward you.

33. Every once in a while look around your work space and ask “Could I gather all my things and be out in 30 minutes.” You just might have to do that one day.

34. Save examples of your best work and important files on a thumb drive.

35. Don’t wear shorts to the office. Ever.

36. Don’t collect things. Collect memories.

37. Wine, liquor, beer.  Pick one.

38. Don’t let your email determine your schedule.  It’s a time sucking tool of generally meaningless work and possibly the worst tool business has ever created.

39. ALWAYS talk with someone who approaches you about a new opportunity. You can always decline it and you never know where it will lead.

40. Become comfortable presenting to an audience. Its an essential skill.

41. Layoffs suck.  Be prepared for when its your turn and empathetic to others when it theirs.

42. Stay in touch with former coworkers, associates, customers, colleagues. It’s easy to send birthday greetings, congratulations, and have get togethers once in a while.

43. Give, give, give, give, give, give, take.

44. Thanking someone for their work or help is great. Sending that thanks to their boss is greater.

45. Every 3 months, send a note to someone’s boss telling them how valuable that person has been in making your job easier. Don’t tell them you did it.

46. Research the company and boss that just gave you that nice job offer.  No job is worth it if you’re working in a hell-hole or for a jackass.

47. Ask “why” a lot.  “Because it how we’ve always done it” is always the wrong answer.

48. Work happens in the office between 9-5. Careers happen outside the office 24-7.

49.  Learn to say “No”.

50. Learn how to dress and always dress a smidge better than what your expected to wear.

51. Be on time for meetings.  5 minutes early is on-time.

52. Date a co-worker at your own peril.

53. Don’t just share content on social media. Create it.

54. Buy a pair of “money shoes” that only touch carpet and are only worn when it matters. I’m partial to Johnston & Murphy’s Hyde Park II Cap-Toe.

55. Do your work with a pencil.

56.  A handwritten note is worth a thousand emails.

57. Don’t take somebody else’s stuff from the company fridge.

58. When traveling on company business:

  • Don’t max out on the per diem just because you have one.
  • Don’t scrimp on the per diem either.  Eating at McDonald’s and staying at the $79 Howard Johnson’s across from Newark Airport doesn’t make you a hero.
  • If someone else is paying the tab, don’t order the most expensive thing on the menu.
  • Don’t post pics of all the fun you are having on your company trip.  You have co-workers back at the office working their assess off that don’t have the privilege that you do.
  • Be nice to security people, gate people, airline employees, hotel employees, bag check people, taxi people….you’re no better than any of them, and they can do a lot of nice things for you.  They can also do a lot of horrible things to you.

59. We all know what you’re saying on social media.

60.  Be visible. Join the softball team. Volunteer for task forces. Don’t eat lunch at your desk everyday.

61. Always follow-up.

62. Keep your word.

63. Don’t let work consume you…find a hobby. Bonus points if that hobby can provide a second income.

64. Every 6 months stop and assess where you are at. Are you happy? Are you reaching your goals?  If not stop what you are doing and readjust your plan or look for a new opportunity.

65. Have a plan. A written plan. With goals and milestones. That you can share. You will never get where you want to go without a roadmap.

66.  Every office has a bully. Don’t let them intimidate you.

67. Look for public speaking opportunities. That can be small meetings at work or big conferences. Become the expert at what you do and share your expertise with others.

68. Don’t take credit for someone else’s work.  Don’t let someone else take credit for your work.

69. Assume that anything you say privately will be communicated publicly.

70. It’s ok not to “hustle” all the time

71. Fantasy Football is a must.

72. Your belt must match your shoes.

73. Find a good cologne. Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Pour Homme has always worked for me.  Ditch the Polo and Drakkar Noir or anything sold in the same aisle as Axe Body Wash.

74. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, order spaghetti at an important business meal.

75. Send your Mom your business card.

76. Find a reliable source of current events and stay informed.  Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC are not reliable sources. Go for NPR, or the BBC.

77. Remember that half your co-workers voted for the other guy.

78. Vacations are a time to disconnect from work, not a different place to do work.  Put down the email, spreadsheets, office updates and enjoy the little time you’ve been given.  You owe yourself that.  The office will be fine without you. Seriously.

79. Four things to never discuss in the office: sex, politics, religion, and the designated hitter rule. You  will never change anybody’s opinion on these things.

80. Using a sick day for a “mental health” day is totally acceptable.

81. Give the bartender a big tip on your first round of drinks. You won’t wait for any round of drinks the rest of the night.

82. Make exercise a priority.

83. Learn how to cook one good meal.

84. Always get it in writing.


*  Unless you’re the lead singer of The Rolling Stones or Aerosmith, or the Founder of the company.

LinkedIn and When “Free” is not “Free”

I drank a fucking boatload of Jack Daniel’s. To the point where they sent me a deed for one square foot of land in Tennessee so that I could officially be a Tennessee squire. I offered to do an ad for them after that, and I got a very nice letter back saying, “Bill, we love you, but this shit sells itself.  – Bill Maher

A couple days ago I got an email from LinkedIn offering a ‘Free Month of LinkedIn Premium’.  Hmm, I thought, LinkedIn is really the shit when is come to getting found by employers.  I can honestly say that absolutely every opportunity brought to me in the last couple years has come through LinkedIn.  More interestingly, in every occasion, it was the actual employer, not a headhunter that contacted me.

<SIDENOTE: This is bad news if you’re a headhunter or

All of this exposure came through a regular LinkedIn profile and without any active outreach on my part.  I’m actually quite content where I’m at.  So before I get on my rant about LinkedIn, first let me say this: If you don’t have a complete profile set-up on LinkedIn, stop reading this now and go do it.


I’m Serious.

I’ll stop typing until you get back…

See wasn’t that easy?

Ok, here’s the rant I promised and if you listen close there’s a lesson here for all Marketers.

So I got this email from LinkedIn…


Notice the call to action…

Free is sometimes not free

Wow! Personalized and everything! It’s like they said “Dean we know you like us and we like you too. And since we like each other so much we’re gonna do you a favor.”  So with the bait set, I started thinking that as good a LinkedIn has been, maybe I could get even more from it with LinkedIn Premium.  I knew there were other paid versions of LinkedIn, but hadn’t thought too much about it until this email arrived.  Bravo LinkedIn Email team.  I’ll bite and give you a click-through.  Nothing to lose right?

So what do I see next?

LinkedIn Premium Options

Ok, this is good; it’s clearly spelling out the differences between the various levels of LinkedIn accounts.  I can clearly see what I have, and what I’m missing out on.  I’m still in your web LinkedIn!  Great job so far.  Let’s get that “Free” trial….

There's no such thing as a free lunch

Wait…what the f#&K is this??? It’s like, a checkout page, with like, credit card info and shit.  I thought this was free?  I mean it said “free” all over the place?  When does “free” mean “give us your credit card info?”  The answer of course is “free” means give us your credit card when it’s not an offer to try a solution more so than an offer to test your memory.

It’s at that point I notice the subtle reminder…

Linkedin Fine Print

Well LinkedIn, this is where I jump off.  Geez and you were so close.

I wish us Marketing folks would quit it with these shady tricks (that’s all they are – tricks).  You see,

“Free” is “Free”.

“Free” is not surcharges, hidden fees, shipping & handling, fine print.

“Free” is “Free”.

“Free” is not “Free*”

* Discount applies to the promotional period only. Your card will start being charged when the promotional period has ended.

“Free” is “Free”

“Free” is not “Hey we’ll let you try it but not before you give us your credit card info so we can unscrupulously charge you in 30 days because by then you’ve forgotten about even signing up for the trial and our research department said that while 38% of you will be pissed off and call us to bitch and complain causing some bad PR that we’ll smooth over with a slick social media camnpaign, 62% of you won’t even notice the charge and it will be a revenue windfall for us which is important cuz we’re a public company and need to grow revenue so our shareholders will be happy.”


As a Marketer I want to offer a good product at a fair price with great service and support.  As a consumer I want the same things.  As a Marketer if I have to employ “tricks” to sell my product, it means that my product can’t stand on its own.  As a Marketer, it also means that I’m lazy and resorting the same bag of tricks that I detest as a consumer.

Let’s be better than that.  Let’s promote our products and services the way we would want them promoted to us.  Let’s forget that 3 pt. font exists and stop it with the fine print.  Let’s stop thinking about fooling the customer and think about how to provide value to the customer.

In the end, LinkedIn, a service I love, missed an opportunity to give me a taste of LinkedIn Premium with no-strings attached.  They could have given me the upgrade “truly free” for 30 days, shown me value, and then pitched me.   Instead, they gambled, asked for credit card info and hoped I’d forget the ticking clock of the trial and somehow not notice the recurring charges.  And that hurts my heart.


To LinkedIn: Your product is better than that, you don’t need to resort to “Trick Marketing”

To Marketers: If you need to resort to “Trick Marketing” to sell your product, try instead to make your product so good it doesn’t need tricks.  Or as wise old Jack Daniels might say: “Make the shit sell itself”.

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