Wisdom From My Corporate Days – Part 3

Next up in our series…

Be Proactive

Being proactive was part of our standard operating procedures.  Don’t just do what was asked;  ask yourself what additional value you could deliver by thinking ahead- getting in front of it.

Don’t wait.  Need something?  Ask for it.  Not hearing back?  Follow up.  Spot an opportunity?  Seize it.   (Those of you who have experienced my follow-up game, you know I will find you!)  Always be one step ahead – anticipate what the client will ask and have an answer ready to go.

What may the client not have thought of that you could bring up and help them anticipate?

Internally, what can we do from an operational standpoint to get ahead of schedule on standard projects so that when special projects come in, we’re not overwhelmed?

Being one step ahead doesn’t only have business applications; it applies to every area of life.  Be proactive with taking care of your health.  Be proactive with spending time with people who are important to you.  Be proactive with taking care of your car and your house.  A little maintenance and thinking ahead go a long way.

No Surprises

“No surprises” was a phrase that was drilled into my head.

No negative surprises, actually.  Surprises of the positive kind are usually welcome, right?

Negative surprises aren’t fun in any area of life, so we always did what we could to avoid them.

Anticipate any deviations from expectations well in advance and present options for dealing with any adversity.

Of course, some things were out of our control (e.g., financial market performance could dramatically alter the company’s bottom line or their cash contribution requirements), so when there were surprises of the unexpected and unfavorable kind, communication was key.


There’s no such thing as too much communication.  Ensure the right people have the right information, then follow up, clarify, summarize, and remind.  Communication always needed to be airtight from beginning to end.

Solid communication in any organization – professional or personal, is essential.  We were advised not only to communicate but overcommunicate.  Remind others.  Confirm the plan to make sure we’re all on the same page.  Assure.  Provide status updates even before you’re asked.  Don’t assume the other person just knows.   Ask.  Listen.  Message the client just to check in and remind them you’re there if they need anything.

And grab your umbrellas for the next article, where we talk about rainmaking.

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