Nov 22, 2010

Don’t pursue titles and dollars

Have you ever left a job with a good title and better dollars to go pursue something else you liked better (or just had to try) even if it did not pay as much?

I did, more than once. The only people who ever questioned that decision were some family members, (I even had to lie I am going to earn more so they leave me alone), couple of colleagues, (''It would be crazy to leave a good job with status and good pay NOW''), my boss (''Liliana, I don’t believe your guts.'') or everyone else who did not know me well.

Although I had doubts, faced hard times and had to give up hairdressing appointments on some days I never looked back. Titles and dollars could hold me for a while but did not fill the void that 8, 10 or 12 hours at ''the job'' were producing. Dollars are very important and they started coming eventually.

That is just me, my way and the way I feel more successful, and you might have your ways of course.

This post is continuation of series of best advice for success, by famous business leaders. They must have been doing something right and it’s up to you to see if you can take advantage of free consulting we could not otherwise afford.

In part one Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google was telling us to hire a coach was the best advice he ever got, although he took it very badly the first time this advice was given to him.

In part two we had Bill Ford, Chairman of Ford Motors saying the best advice for success in his life was to follow your passion.

Miles White, CEO of Abbott Labs has a different advice for you.

Miles White CEO, Abbott : Don't pursue titles and dollars

(Fortune magazine has named Abbott the world's most admired company in the pharmaceutical industry in 2010 in its annual listing, published in the March 22 issue of the magazine. Fortune's Most Admired list is compiled by surveying senior executives, outside directors and industry analysts from Fortune 1000 and Global 500 companies in 55 industries. It is widely recognized as one of the most prestigious corporate reputation rankings in the world.)

’’The best advice I got from someone in the corporate world was not to pursue titles and dollars. Pursue passion, and the titles and the dollars will take care of themselves. I think there's a lot of truth to that. As young people build careers, how they define happiness or achievement makes a big difference in the success they're going to have in their careers. If you pursue the things you believe in and have a passion for, I think everything else pretty much takes care of itself. Otherwise, you find yourself wishing your life away, advancing to the next thing, and never quite appreciating the circumstances where you are and the enrichment you're getting out of the experience.''

He described how he gave up dollars at one point of his career.

‘’I was a consultant at McKinsey almost 25 years ago, and I took a large cut in pay and left to become a national account sales manager at Abbott. I wanted to manage people and products directly. I wanted to be somewhere where I could build a business, build people, and lead teams. I took a big cut in pay and went in search of passion. And it worked out. ‘’ (source:

I admit it was helpful for me to have savings and attractive freelance project lined up (once), before I quit my (country manager) job for a large multinational corporation. I questioned myself for weeks too, when I did not like my job anymore. I asked one question: ‘’Would I want to stay here doing this what I am doing for 2 or 3 times bigger salary?’’ The only answer from myself to myself was ‘’no’’ so I had no choice but be brave, go and take risk with my own business.

Jack Welch, (retired) CEO of General Electric said something I liked, addressing students of MIT recently: ''Your job as a leader is to excite people. How much energy do you have and how do you energize others?''

I thought if I am an aspiring leader, and I am not excited about my work, business or cause, what are my chances to excite, inspire and influence others? I would think slim. And I don’t see a title or a dollar (only) that can make me genuinely excited for a long time at least.

This is my way again, and it happens to be in line with best advice of Miles White, CEO of Abbott.

What are your thoughts about this sensitive subject? Did this advice bring anyone you know success? Have you or anyone you know have ever done anything similar and have they regretted their decision or (hopefully) not?

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