Read the advice that has worked for me since my first summer job.
Forget about “fake it till you make it” and start becoming the person you want to be, today.
The “fake it till you make it” mentality can have a well-meaning message of faking your confidence, even when you don’t feel it, like Amy Cuddy shares in her TED talk, and encourages us to strike a power pose and let our bodies physically feel like a winner to combat nervousness. The extra confidence boost is something we all need from time to time, but otherwise the advice “fake it till you make it” is outdated and it hasn’t really worked for me.
Quite the opposite has worked for me.
Being myself, following my own instincts, and having the guts to be authentic and sometimes even bluntly honest. I much rather get rejected for being myself and for my original ideas, than be celebrated for something that I faked or can’t even re-create.
In fact, can you even imagine being in a situation where people like you, but you are not sure whether they like you for you, or for the things you faked and said just to please them? I bet you can imagine – because we’ve probably all been there.
Much better advice is “dress for the job you want, not the one you have” because it is not about faking it, it is about taking active action to become the person you want to be.
Start by “dressing” for the job. Start by doing what you can do. Start by showing what you can accomplish.
I got promoted in my first job at age 15
What did you learn from your first summer job?
My first summer job was at a company that manufactured satellites and audio equipment. I worked on the factory floor, and when the production manager was too busy to show us kids easy tasks, he’d tell us to sit in the cafeteria and wait to be called for more work.
My dad got the job for me, he had just been promoted to C-level at the company year before. I wanted to make him proud, and I was afraid someone who knew I was his daughter would see me reading magazines in the cafeteria.
They had multiple factory departments, so I sought the other production managers, introduced who I was, and told I was asked to sit in the cafeteria and wait, but I would rather work in another department.
Within days, I worked in multiple departments and got a promotion from the factory floor to the office side, where I worked part of the day delivering mail twice a day, and making photocopies (yes, it was the olden days). The office side had only one other summer employee that year. She was studying for her MBA and was like an adult to me. I was 15 years old, and it was the summer before ninth grade.
8 Lessons For Success For Someone Just Starting Out
1. Make authentic connections & build your network
Being kind and getting to know people doesn’t cost you a thing. Start building your network way before you need it. You will never know where the best opportunities come from. You are welcome to join our community for womxn entrepreneurs, Insider Society.
How this has worked for me: My sister’s boyfriend’s mom once hired me. I hired my daughter’s friend’s mom. Let’s not even go there how many gigs, jobs, and clients I have received from the connections I’ve made through social media, from people I have never even met face-to-face.
2. If someone refers you for a job, don’t make them regret it
The saying your network is your net worth is another cliche that’s kind of true. So when someone from your network refers you to others, and you take the opportunity, don’t make them regret it. It’s much better to decline a bad opportunity that isn’t a fit for you than do a poor job and also make the person who recommended you look bad. Of course, some doors are also meant to be closed – this does not mean that you have to please everyone.
How this has worked for me: My former boss referred my biggest client to the date for me. That client referred other clients. I don’t have to even spend much time marketing, because many of my clients come from referrals.
3. Ask and take more responsibility
You want to accelerate your success? Ask for more difficult tasks from your employers or teachers. Volunteer, if you can’t get a job. Start a personal project that showcases your skills – it can be a TikTok account, ebook, video content, pop-up shop at the farmer’s market, a charity drive, or hundred other things. You don’t need anyone’s permission to take more responsibility for your own success, skill development, and CV-building.
How this has worked for me: I was a stay-at-home mom of 3 kids under 4 when I started my first business by selling my kids old clothes. I shopped at flea markets and sales, sold the finds on an auction site, and saved money for 3 years before starting my first “real” business and became the CEO of my LLC. Two years later – I was consulting some of the largest brands in the world. In one of my jobs, I started as a social media manager and made it to CMO in six months. No kidding.
4. You are in charge of your success
You can accelerate your success. If you are lucky, you have mentors or people who look for opportunities for you. That’s why the network is so important. However, nobody else is in charge of your success but you. Not your mom, not your boss, not your teacher. The sooner you understand it, the better.
Opportunities come to everyone. But usually, it means that you are open for opportunities, you actively look for opportunities and you openly share you are ready for opportunities. Learn to raise your hand, have a curious mind, and be patient even if the first opportunity isn’t the perfect one. It is just a stepping stone.
How this has worked for my kids (who are now 18-21 years old): One of my kids printed their art on t-shirts, a few years later they have done multiple solo exhibitions. Another daughter stepped up to produce a virtual event at her school and now she is producing large-scale virtual events. My son started posting his photos on Instagram, now he has a Fortune 150 company as a client.
5. Be humble and willing to help others
When you share what you know, you seem smart, and people are more likely to recommend you. When you are humble, people like working in the same team as you and ask you to join. When you bring opportunities for others, they start bringing them to you. Even when you get ahead and get a few steps forward in the success train, don’t stop there. A rising tide lifts all boats, and the most powerful people help other people get ahead too.
The selfish Queen attitude might attract a certain type of crowd, but don’t think that if you have lots of followers those people have your back. Maybe they just want to watch you crash and burn.
How this has worked for me: I’ve helped people before they’ve become millionaires, written bestseller books, made it to TV, and they remember my name because I was there before they were famous. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your career is to help someone else get ahead first.
6. Don’t complain
Sure, when you are starting out you might not have enough money, you have to work too much or too little, or on things that you don’t love. People might not see your potential. It’s never OK to be mistreated, or abused, so leave from those situations, but if it’s just annoyance, consider sticking to the first opportunities you get to learn everything you can. It’s much less intimidating also to mess up and make your first mistakes in a job that isn’t your dream job, or in your first business experiment.
Whatever task you are given, do it well, don’t complain, and after you prove yourself, then you can ask for other tasks.
How this has worked for me: I worked in a shoe store until I had learned enough about retail sales. I worked in a hotel until I learned enough about hotel management and hotel marketing.
7. Keep learning
Trust me, it’s much worse to fake it till you make it and make people think you know something than have an open mind and say you are up for a challenge to do your best on something, and then learn more as you go. Be willing to learn in order to get more challenging tasks.
Often it’s also very beneficial to be the first one to do the hard learning task, before everyone around you is an expert. For example, when Clubhouse or TikTok started, nobody had any experience on the platforms and it was anyone’s game to become an expert.
How this has worked for me: I was an early adopter using Twitter, then Pinterest, and then Instagram, and all of those have pushed my business opportunities forward. I continuously keep learning new things, challenging myself, and improving what I do. It’s not because I don’t know things. I know a lot. I especially know that those who stay current on their skills won’t have difficulties finding great opportunities.
8. Expect more!
Whatever your first step is, expect more to come! Don’t judge your possibilities for success just from the first experience (first job, first business, first client etc. – you can be dong your firsts at any age). Be bold, and dream bigger.
Expect more from yourself, but also from the people you work for. You deserve it.
If you want to accelerate your success and get new work and business opportunities, keep asking yourself “what’s next”. Hold yourself to the standards of the successful version of yourself, and keep thinking about how you can do better. And by “doing better” I don’t mean just better results, but maybe how to be happier, healthier, what else you want in life, could you work less while making more money, is your lifestyle more important than money… Only you can define what success and rich life look for you.
Expect more also from people around you. If someone is putting you down all the time, maybe it’s time for new friends. If your aunt is telling you you have stupid ideas, maybe you just talk about cake recipes the next time you see her. If your clients are not hiring you for more challenging tasks, maybe you need new clients.
How this has worked for me: If I can not learn or improve my skills anymore in a situation, I usually leave. I want to surround myself with people who want me to become better and to go after even bigger opportunities. If I could go back and say something to my 18-year-old-self it would be “dream bigger”.
Don’t sit in a cafeteria or cafe or on your couch, but go and seek for your first or next big stepping stone to your success!
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Authors Katja Presnal and Candice Kilpatrick Brathwaite are digital marketing pioneers who leveraged their blogging and social media skills to build their careers as digital nomads living around the world. They built their digital marketing careers as work-at-home moms. They have over 20 years of collective experience in business and marketing strategy. This book shares techniques they have successfully used to help Fortune 100 companies, startups, and solopreneurs to launch, grow faster, and make sales records. Their high-ticket guidance is now accessible to all business owners for the first time.