LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner's Powerful Career Advice For Students

By James Mills, Associate Partner & Mentorship Coach, Lighthouse International

Jeff Weiner is the CEO of LinkedIn and in an interview with the New York Times back in 2012 he was asked for his top advice for business students. What he came back with is an incredibly valuable insight for any career professional!

"The advice I give them about their career path and realizing their dreams starts with a very simple question. I say: "I’m going to ask you a question, and you’re going to have 15 seconds to answer it: Looking back on your career 20, 30 years from now, what do you want to say you’ve accomplished? Go."

Why does he feel this is such an important question for students to ask? He explained the reason:

"If they can’t answer it in 15 seconds, it probably means they haven’t thought about the answer before that moment, or they don’t have a definitive answer, which is fine, because for some people that’s a lifelong journey. But you’d be amazed how many people I meet who don’t have the answer to the question. They either never asked themselves that or they got swept up in a stream of opportunity that led from one thing to another — more titles, more money — and they just didn’t stop to ask themselves that simple question.

You can’t realize your goal if it’s not defined. It sounds so simple but it’s true. So the most important piece of advice I can give folks who are coming out of school, even people who’ve already begun their career, is to know what it is they ultimately want to accomplish. And if they don’t, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but start thinking about what it is, because once you know it, the moment you know it, you begin manifesting it. You manifest it in explicit ways by virtue of knowing and then pursuing it, and you manifest it in implicit ways — just in the way you talk, in the way you think and the things that you say to others and the people you attract to yourself.

And if you don’t know the answer to the broader question, my advice is to optimize for two things: passion and skill, not one at the exclusion of the other. You have to optimize for both."

Essentially what Jeff Weiner is advising is to 'begin with the end in mind'. If we are not clear about where we are going in our lives and careers, then we very much run the risk of ending up in places that may conflict with our values and lifestyles. He warns against the danger of not applying the principle of Personal Leadership (which is essentially learning to lead ourselves through our vision, our mission and our values). This requires work up front which will then help us in seeking out opportunities and making important decisions in our lives.

You can read more of his advice in the original New York Times article.

Want some more powerful questions to help you progress in your career? Here's 5 more!


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