Advantage making for college students

If you are a college student preparing for the real world what do you do when you encounter boulders in your life?

Once upon a time there was a king who placed a huge boulder in a roadway. The King hid and watched to see how people acted. Most avoided it, some blamed the King for not taking care of the roads, but none tried to get rid of the boulder.

Until a young shepherd came along with his oxen. The young peasant saw the boulder, laid down his pack and figured out how to move the boulder off the road. After much pushing and leveraging his oxen, he succeeded.  And then, under the boulder he found a purse with gold and a note from the King saying the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the road.

We all have boulders, what do we do when we are up against a rock.  Here are 5 ways to prepare yourself to create advantages, enabling you to deal with your boulders in college and looking for and finding jobs.

The 5 factors of advantage making

1) Find a horse to ride that is profitable.

Now is the time to create the future by finding a horse to ride. You have a dream, find a horse that will help you live your dream. Trout wrote a book about finding a horse to ride for your career. It could be an idea but that’s a big challenge, if you have it, go for it. It could be a specific business or industry, perhaps tech or international business, or it could be an industry that will do fine during the recession. If you have professional interests and a career make sure you pick a horse that can go the distance. In a recession cash is king, so finding a horse to ride will get you to your destination. You don’t have to find one horse for you entire life. Pick one and ride.

2) Adaptability. Shift.

You must be able to shift your behavior. The people who succeed are the fastest and best adapters. The worse thing that could happen is if you are successful in your first set of interactions. Why? Because you will become overconfident, and it will be a false confidence. You will think you know what you are doing, and the likelihood is that you have only a partial understanding, but you were good enough and lucky enough this time to make it work.  Your adaptability should be based upon thinking your don’t know, rather than your certainty that you do. Therefore use doubt to your advantage rather than certainty to your disadvantage. Persisting in what doesn’t work thinking it does will get your fired.

3) Influence. Yes.

Whatever your field, if you want people to say yes to your request you need to be able to influence them. And no matter how much you think people will be reasonable, they make their decisions emotionally. Think about times when you spent money on something you couldn’t quite afford. Why? Because it made you feel good. Unless you are the brightest person in the room, and even if you are, if you can’t persuade people to your way of seeing things you may continue to be the brightest person in the room, only you’ll be all by yourself. Hard to make a living, even over the internet that way.

4) Networking. Connections count.

Yes it is who you know, your connections that will get you in a position for that first interview you actually want. There is an old saying, “Build your well, before you need the water.” Its better to build your connections over time and cherish those connections. Your college friendships are worth more than future jobs, they are a wealth of memories that you will cherish always, especially the one’s that you will laugh about, and are glad are way in your past. So be the first to help others. When I see a little old lady cross a street I’m the first to offer her a hand if she wants it. My thought is someone is doing the same for my family members. We are in this together.  Help someone. Doors will open you didn’t think possible. Recall the 6 degrees of separation. It’s not just an interesting idea.  Your connections and your network are more valuable than anyone can realize.  Help your friends and their parents will appreciate you. And when you need it most there will be hands to help you across the river. Ask yourself, how does this person feel about themselves in my presence? Not do they like you, but do they feel they can do their best, be their best, do what is most meaningful. If you can do that for people you will have a rich deep connection and network.

5) Leverage.  Be an Advantage Maker

Act as if you can create advantages for yourself and others. Look for leverage. Take on a job and do it better than anyone expected. Use your creativity and people will notice. Market your ability to create advantages, people will want to know what and how. Develop your ability to shift your perspectives. Shifting time creates possibilities. TIVO is a product that shifts time, watch it when you want to. Knowing how to shift time to create urgency is most marketers specialty. Shifting interactions changes the game. Managing your interactions will determine how fast you move up the ladder. Facebook and MySpace are services that shift interactions. Shifting perceptions influences outcomes. You can’t be a leader unless you can influence perceptions. L’oreal perfume, ‘expensive but worth it’, is a product that influences the perception of women across the land. Shifting structure changes behavior. The internet shifted the structure of business online. Be an advantage maker now.

These five factors are what the most effective leaders use. Now its your turn to 1) find a horse to ride that is profitable, 2) expand your adaptability 3) Influence others 4) build a network and 5) create advantages through leverage. These skills will travel with you not only in the remainder of your classes but also in your job search and interviews. They may not teach you in school, but this is what works in life. As you live these 5 advantage making actions, putting them into practice, doors will open you didn’t think imaginable.

We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are.   The Talmud