Practice like you’ve never won. Perform like you’ve never lost.
In this post I want to share practical advice to prepare for your dream job and go beyond a short checklist. This post is part of my 30 day blogging challenge. To get my posts in your inbox, please sign up to my newsletter.
In 2010 I was part of the Strategic Partnerships team at Google. I had recently graduated from my MBA at London Business School, and after years of product management roles, I felt like I wanted to do Business. Partnerships, contracts, negotiations, sounded like a good way to apply what I learned in my Masters.
I loved the challenge of building a pipeline of partners, and secured over 100 partnerships in my first year, helping launch various Google commerce products in EMEA, including Google Shopping in Spain, Local Shopping in the UK, and same day delivery. It was exciting, new, and it was a nice change to be in the front office, directly engaging customers and contributing to the bottom line.
But my passion was in startups. I used to blog about startups and venture capital, mentor entrepreneurs (taking personal time off to do so), go to pitch events, hackathons and scour Google’s intranet, aka “MoMa”, for anything related to startups. Show me how you spend your spare time and I’ll tell you what your passion is.
About a year in, an opportunity presented itself, that I could describe as a dream job for me back then. Eric Schmidt gave a speech announcing the Google was to launch an ‘innovation centre’ in London aimed at startups.
We have all been there: an opportunity on the horizon that excites you. Perhaps a dream job interview or a project you cared deeply about succeeding in. How did you prepare? You probably scribbled down some notes or even did a mindmap to make sure you thought about everything. I’d like to pay it forward and share the advice I received, which worked for me and made all the difference.
The 100 day plan
When we hear ‘first 100 days’ we think about an indicator of initial presidential performance. It’s all about successfully onboarding into a new role, but in practice, your plan starts way before you’ve even stepped into the interview or embarked on the project.
To get started, I recommend you order a copy of this book: The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan: How to Take Charge, Build or Merge Your Team, and Get Immediate Results by George Bradt. It’s practical and to the point. Bradt is a former executive at several Fortune 500 companies and co-founder of an executive transition consultancy.
Buy The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan: How to Take Charge, Build Your Team, and Get Immediate Results 3rd Revised…www.amazon.co.uk
I wouldn’t do the book justice by trying to summarise it in a couple of paragraphs, but here’s the structure of coming up with your own 100 day plan.
0. Strengths, motivation and fit
Before starting the plan, the book talks about the three things that will determine your success in approaching a new opportunity:
- Strengths: these are your unique capabilities that make you a strong candidate for the role. They include the skills you’ve gained, education, qualifications, knowledge and experience.
- Motivation: How does the opportunity fit with your likes and dislikes. This is the answer to ‘what are you passionate about?’ or ‘where do you see yourself in 5 years?’
- Fit: Can we work together? Do we share the same values, behaviours, work ethic?
Answering these for yourself before even applying for a job or committing to an opportunity is critical.
1. Map your stakeholders
This includes internal and external stakeholders, in various levels: Up, Down, Across and Former.
I jotted down a list of stakeholders but didn’t stop there. I set up about 30 coffee/lunch meetings with friends/colleagues/contacts ahead of the interview. In these meetings, I asked a simple question: What do you think are the challenges and opportunities in this opportunity? How would I fit in the role?
2. Come up (or understand) the new challenge, mission, and vision
Depending on whether you’re starting something new, or joining an existing effort, you’ll have a unique vantage point before beginning the role and getting too deep in the weeds.
- Vision: what a picture of success looks like when we’re done
- Mission: why does the position exist? What are the responsibilities of the role?
The other collateral of this process should be a call to action that you could share with the team.
Back then, I’ve used the interviews to craft my own vision and mission for the role of Head of Campus at Google. I distilled my call to action to “Let’s fill this town with statrups”.
3. Set long and short term goals
What are the long term objectives implied by the mission and vision? Can you translate them into:
- Long term: Top priorities for the overall org over the next 3 years. If these are already set, clarify what they are or derive from the mission and vision.
- Short term: Top 3 goals for you and your team to accomplish over the next 12 months. These should flow from the 3 year priorities. Ideally, the goals can be broken down to milestones, and early wins.
- Current status: look at team’s current results and probe what’s working well and what could work even better.
4. Set the operational plan
There are several ways to do this. I chose to write a Google doc detailing the following milestones and what needs to happen in each phase:
Day one | By first week | First 30 days | By day 45 | By day 60 | By day 90
Everything communicates. Connect with the critical stakeholders either in person, via email or in some case, social media. This should be thought through, and planned ahead.
Ultimately, success in your dream job is about setting up your own parameters. Managing yourself. Measuring yourself. Planning yourself. It will not only help you get the job, but also to succeed while you’re in it. For me the 100 day plan was critical then, in 2011, and it’s just as relevant today.
I embarked on a 30 day blogging challenge to restore my passion for writing (more about it here ) This was day sixteen. My inspirations for this project are Matt Cutts’ 30 day challenges, James Altucher’s idea machine and Fred Wilson‘s prolific blogging. What 30 day challenges have you started?