Last year, an Uber driver was talking me up as he drove me to the airport. I’d just finished giving a keynote address at a conference and still had my badge on. He asked me what I speak about, and without hesitation I replied, “How to be successful at work.” This piqued his interest. “Driving this car is my side-hustle. I work in operations at a software company and I’m struggling to move up. So let me ask you this: How can I achieve success?”
It was a fair question, so I thought about it for a minute and then replied: “Success is not a destination. Trust me, no matter what you accomplish, you won’t feel finished. Success is a direction. And that direction is forward.”
He mulled that over for a minute then replied, “OK, then how can I move forward for the rest of my life?” “Always build value,” I replied. He laughed and said, “That sounds like Always Be Closing from that movie Glengarry Glen Ross!”
I recalled that classic scene where Alex Baldwin’s character scratched out A-B-C on a chalkboard, then revealed his sales-success strategy based on pressure.
“Actually, my approach is the exact opposite Glengarry’s,” I said. “He was all about using force to get what you want. My point of view is that you win at work by helping other people get what they want.” He nodded, processing the distinction. “I’m interested,” he said. “So how do I always build value?”
“Find ways to improve your resume annually by learning new things,” I replied. “Grow your network of relationships. Improve your ability to share knowledge and network other people together. That’s the secret to lifelong success. You move forward by adding value to other people’s lives. But you can’t do that without building value every day of your life.”
As I got out of the car, he shook my hand and said, “That sounds like a lot of work. What’s the point of developing so much value? Being smart? Having a lot of connections?” I could understand his confusion. “Nope,” I replied. “It’s about having something you can share that helps other people be more successful. When you are adding to your knowledge bank and network all the time, you’ll never hoard them like so many people do. It will change your personality as well as your perspective. You’ll believe you have enough to share, and that will make you a generous person who stands out from the crowd.”
Since that conversation, I’ve thought a lot about why it’s important for us to look at the subject of success through the lens of what we can do every single day, not just for ourselves, but for those we work with. There will be no magic moment where you’ve arrived. In my experience, bizlife is a series of little wins that often come from investments you’ve made in yourself with the intention of sharing them with others.
Earlier this year, I teamed up with Slam Agency to produce a short video that outlines exactly what you need to do to live my A-B-V advice. Invest two minutes watching it and you’ll have a blueprint for your own lifelong success story.