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Career Corner
Four Steps To Career Success

Ramon Greenwood -- Success demands an orientation outward to the needs and desires of the market, rather than inward to one's own immediate gratification. The way to success is simple, but it's not easy. Not everyone is willing to pay the price.

The formula for career success is really quite simple.

In fact, success in the world of work requires only that we complete four basic steps. Anyone can do it, given a reasonable amount of energy and common sense.

They are:

1. Provide a product or service that people (employer, customers, et al) want to buy.

2. Assure quality, always.

3. Guarantee full value for the price paid.

4. Make each transaction a pleasure to be repeated.

These four steps apply whatever the career path -- working in a profession or as a salaried employee; serving as a salesperson in a retail shop; or owning and operating a small business.

At this point, a common sense question begs to be answered. If it is so simple, why aren't more people successful?

Well, success does require commitment and hard work, the extra effort, a burning desire to succeed. Success demands an orientation outward to the needs and desires of the market, rather than inward to one's own immediate gratification. The way to success is simple, but it's not easy. Not everyone is willing to pay the price.

The Four Steps

Many of us fail to provide the product or service the customer wants because we refuse to actually listen to him. Often it is more convenient to provide what's already on hand, or what we can turn out easily. We are so busy serving our own needs and interests that we don't have any time or energy left over for the customer.

Quality is discretionary -– always. It gets left out when we try to gain a quick profit by cutting a corner on the ingredients we put in the product. Quality is missing when someone doesn't have the interest or the energy to stay an extra half-hour after the office closes to check the shipping list or to proofread the memorandum to the boss.

"Value for price paid" is essential for success, whether the price is one dollar or one hundred dollars, or the job is in the mailroom or in the boardroom. If we are interested in success, there is no plausible reason for not delivering quality and value for price paid.

Perhaps the easiest of all the elements in the success formula is the one having to do with attitude: "smile ... be friendly." Anyone can make it "a pleasure to do business." And it doesn't cost one red cent.

Take the most obvious example of this reality. Salespersons in retail stores usually work on commission. Their success is a direct line from what they sell to what they earn.

It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that the friendlier and more helpful a salesperson is, the more they will sell and the more they will earn (i.e., the more successful they will be).

Being courteous takes very little effort. It is the difference between "What do you want?" and "How can I help you?" It's between ignoring the waiting customer while finishing a joke with an associate, or moving briskly to deliver the product or service the buyer wants.

The bottom line is our personal success depends directly on our being driven by a goal of delivering benefits for those to whom we sell our wares rather than serving our immediate interest.

Anyone can be successful. It is a matter of individual, personal choice. Grab success or leave it for someone else.

I wish you success!

Ramon Greenwood, Senior Career Counselor at Common Sense At Work, is a former Senior Vice President of American Express. To subscribe to his free semi-monthly newsletter and blog please go to http://www.commonsenseatwork.com/getitnow.

© 2008 Ramon Greenwood

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