1. I got the top job I’ve always wanted. Now what?
Once you’ve reached the top, you’ll need to do whatever it takes to stay on top. There will always be more qualified people than spots available, and so the person who wins and stays in the game is the one who is most committed. I’m not talking about doing anything illegal, but you need to keep hunting and bringing home the bacon, otherwise one day the peasants will revolt and demand a new king.
In the never-ending quest for growth, you’ll also need to jump higher. In a world of “what have you done for me lately,” for every win, winning will become more difficult.
You think you’ve won but in reality the game has really just begun. You thought it was a marathon but in fact it’s an ultra marathon. So keep running!
2. What’s the right mindset to have?
Remember that life doesn’t get any easier once you’ve risen to the top; you just get better at being able to handle it. So don’t get complacent; this place of prestige isn’t exactly Easy Street. You can’t just sit on your laurels and take everything for granted. You’ve got to know your clients (or manager) inside and out—when to go for a deal (or project) and when to walk (or dodge).
You’ve got to be an EQ master, balancing personal relationships and intuitively knowing when to delegate, when to swoop and step in, when to hire, and when to fire. And, of course, you’ve got to be Mr. or Ms. Swivel Neck, with eyes behind your head watching out for that unknown someone trying to push you off your game.
3. In sports, some superstars are described as triple threats? What does it mean to be a triple threat in the corporate world?
In my 30 years of work experience, I believe that there are three superpowers that you need to be a great senior person at any company: the ability to develop trusting relationships, to sell, and to negotiate. If you don’t master these, then one day the firm will send a notice to all your colleagues saying you’ve decided to “spend time with family.”
Here are a few tips to get you into shape:
Shut Up. Don’t sell past the close. Complex sales always involve asymmetry of information. Just like how we all know that Wall Street screws over the little people but not by how much, clients acknowledge they’ll never really know how you work your magic. So once you have the sale or approval, don’t keep at it. You don’t want your audience asking themselves, “What do I not know?”
Speed Wins. There are a few things in life where it pays to wait but not selling. If you see an opportunity, don’t hesitate. If an issue arises, don’t hide. Do tomorrow’s work today.
Be Preemptive. Few things are more intoxicating than getting a first look at something—that new house, a new movie. I’ve found that giving someone a preemptive opportunity almost always makes them lean forward. It works better than a straight auction because it appeals to the basis for all teenage angst: FOMO (fear of missing out). So FOMO your way to greatness by making the other side feel special, but be sure to slap an expiration date on it.
Build Relationships. We all like to do business with people we like, so build long-term relationships. Many of my clients were friends and people who I had called on for years, some for over a decade. Play the long game and know that one day, it will all pay off—hopefully.
Call in Favors. If any one of the salespeople can do your deal or colleagues can complete your project, who do you choose? The one you owe, of course! Cash in those favors!
Sell Ideas. Everyone loves ideas! Clients may not act on them, but they’ll appreciate the opportunity to give them a spin. Whenever I met with clients, even if it was just to shoot the breeze, I brought a book of ideas filled with at least a dozen companies. Most were downright stupid, but that one in a hundredth time when the client said, “Oh, that’s interesting!” I heard the sweet sound of “Ka-ching!”
Negotiate Terms; Not Price. Negotiations never happen like they do in the movies. Hollywood’s version is fast-forward so when the two sides have questions, they’re quickly resolved. People shake on it and the deal is done. Reality is much more boring. It’s like a tennis match in slow motion, with a series of back-and-forths.Every negotiation has multiple facets, and ignoring all but the top-line efforts means you’re ignoring deal points of value. Even the price can be impacted by the fine print. If you want to be a great senior person, never forget that Lucifer was probably an awesome senior guy. After all, he coined the expression, “The Devil Is in the Details.”
About the Author
Dave is a seasoned executive and entrepreneur who founded several companies in entertainment, investments, and technology, and worked on Wall Street for almost 25 years. He started his career by joining a fledgling investment bank, Jefferies, when it had less than 200 employees. Today, Jefferies is a multi-billion dollar diversified public company (NYSE:JEF).
He rose from the entry level position of Analyst to Group Head of Internet and Digital Media and was one of the youngest Managing Directors in firm history. As one of the only managing directors of color in the firm, he successfully broke through the Bamboo Ceiling. He not only worked hard but also played the corporate game. Hundreds of bankers have worked for Dave during his career. He has mentored many of them who have gone on to some of the best business schools and companies in America. He is eager to share his knowledge with Asian Americans and other disadvantaged groups seeking to maximize their potential and achieve their career goals.
If you want some great career tips and insights check out Dave’s book, The Way of the Wall Street Warrior.