The Top 10 Things They Don't Teach You In Business School


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Here are 10 subjects that academia should be teaching their students in business school:

1. Generate revenue for your company

What academia doesn’t teach you is that the real purpose organizations hire you is to generate revenue. Pure and simple. How do you do that? Look around and ask yourself, how can I increase productivity, efficiency, effectiveness and profitability in my area of responsibility? If you work in a non-profit arena, you ask yourself the same question. It is not “profit” in your case, it is “surplus funds. ” In reality, there is no such thing as “non-profit. ” You have to have money to open the doors and turn on the lights, don’t you?

Remember, there is a rule of thumb when you are hired. It is the 2.5 times rule. This means you will have to generate 2.5 times your salary (including benefits) in order for your employer to break even on you. How do you do that? Generate revenue!

2. Move every two to three years

When you think about who has been “reduced in force” in the last 10 years, it appears that it has been individuals who have been in their same job description for at least 10-15 years. Moving every two to three years gives you a competitive edge in any organization even if it means taking a “lateral” position or even a “demotion. ” Who will be more valuable to an organization, a person in the same job for 10+ years, or the individual who has worked in a variety of positions within the organization? If you were the CEO, who would you retain when it comes to “downsizing?”.

3. Learn and apply business and social etiquette

Have you noticed how many people lack civility today? The lack of thoughtfulness and consideration is rampant not only in society but also in organizations. Remember, there is an extra set of eyes watching you in every thing you do. Senior executives looking for a “rising star” oftentimes observe behaviors of potential individuals who they most likely would consider for advancement. They observe behaviors at social events, business meetings, how you treat peers and employees, how you correspond in speaking and writing, and most importantly, they listen to what others have to say about you. It is highly recommended that you read up on business and social etiquette. I would love to see a business school that offers a course in business and social etiquette. God forbid that organizations would offer that instead of another boring, unproductive meeting!

4. Professional bearing

It may not be fair, but people judge us on what we wear no matter what the current craze is. Observe the professional grooming habits of the senior executives in your organization. Do you fit in with them? According to professional bearing consultant, William Throurlby, there are 10 factors people judge us by what we are wearing:

  • Your economic level
  • Your educational level
  • Your trustworthiness
  • Your social position
  • Your level of sophistication
  • Your economic heritage
  • Your social heritage
  • Your educational heritage
  • Your success
  • Your moral character

    Many potential “rising stars” are hiring career coaches to help them further their careers and professional bearing.

    5. Be nice to everyone

    Hal Rosenbluth in his book, The Customer Comes Second, states that his main criteria for hiring is seeking “nice people. ” He also states that you just cannot decide on Thursday to be nice. It is very difficult and almost impossible to teach people to be nice. Nice people are born and raised with that trait. They are natural when it comes to being nice. Practice observing who you think would qualify as a nice person. What do they do that you don’t do for others? Consider this, would you hire a person who never uses their signals to change lanes? … a person who does not look behind them in a grocery store line to see if the other person has a lot fewer items? … a person who doesn’t hold a door open for you? … or a person who doesn’t clean up after themselves in business and social situations? Next time you are in a restroom, observe how many people wipe down the basin counter- top after washing their hands. You get the message?

    6. Get your personal finances in order

    I am sure you have heard the comment, “You’ll never get rich by working for someone else. ” Have you ever wondered why the rich get richer and the poor get poorer and the middle class struggles to survive? I have also. What I have observed is that the subject of money is taught at home and not in schools. Academia focuses on academic achievement and professional skills, but they don’t focus on personal finance skills. Did your parents teach you how to accumulate wealth? Mine neither. So, how do we do it? I am a big fan of Robert Kiyosaki, the author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Go out and buy all of his books. You will be inspired to get your personal finances growing for you. I have heard that some schools are offering his practical series of money matters in their curriculum. I would highly encourage all of academia to implement his program in their curriculum. In academia we teach students how to crunch numbers, but do we teach them to crunch their own?

    7. Know when it is time for you to go

    Have you ever stayed in a job too long that you didn’t like? Most of us have. We never admitted to ourselves that the day would come when someone else would tell us to leave. You’re fired! If you have the following thoughts and concerns, maybe you should be looking to do something different:

  • The job isn’t fun any more
  • I don’t know what else to do
  • My manager is a zero
  • I have been passed over for promotion several times
  • I work with the same boring people at the same boring company
  • I am barely making ends meet
  • I really don’t care anymore
  • I have been warned and written up but it’s no big deal

    If you have experienced at least four out of these eight “symptoms”, I would suggest it is your time to go. What do you do next? You might seriously consider contacting a career counselor. I recommend a lot of people to American Career Executives. 1-800-838-5119

    8. Use organizational politics to your advantage

    Organizational politics: Just saying this phrase draws rolling eyes and sounds of exasperation. But office politics are necessary for corporate success. Politics in the workplace has come to mean backstabbing, gossip, complaining, and turf battles between competing departments. But it can also mean team building, morale boosting and consensus building. Here are 10 things that will help you “play the game”.

  • Know your industry so you can discuss it intelligently with anyone
  • Bring solutions to problems
  • Don’t whine or complain
  • Be loyal to your boss even if you don’t like him/her
  • Treat everyone with respect…always
  • Keep your boss updated on your projects
  • Do not gossip, ever.
  • Send appreciation notes often.
  • Stay away from discussing controversial topics…focus on topics that contribute to the organization’s mission.
  • Find out the hobbies and interests of top managers and executives and learn them. If they all play golf, go out and learn to play.

    Remember, it is not who you know, it is who knows you. There are numerous articles and books on political etiquette. You should read all of them. Consider coaching your team in corporate politics to support your organization’s mission, enhance team building and improve morale.

    9. Find a mentor

    Every person I’ve ever known or read about who has achieved his or her dreams has had at least one mentor. Henry Ford credited his former boss, Thomas Edison. Francis Ford Coppola mentored George Lucas and Sid Shineberg mentored Steven Speilberg.

    Mentors will not only enable you to achieve extraordinary success, they will help you achieve it far more quickly than all the networking you could possibly do. Here are 10 tips that just might help you in finding a mentor:

  • Check to see if your company offers a mentoring program. If not, check your alma mater or other professional organizations to which you belong.

  • Choose a mentor you respect. You can choose someone in your company or outside your company. You may have both.

  • Decide why you need a mentor. What skills would you like to develop with your mentor’s assistance?

  • Don’t choose your manager. It’s better to have someone with whom you can talk freely about your career and workplace challenges.

  • Discuss with your mentor your expectations as well as theirs.

  • Choose a mentor who has succeeded in their area of expertise.

  • Choose a mentor who has legitimate credentials.

  • Make sure that this mentor is known for their integrity.

  • Choose mentors that are living examples of what you want to achieve.

  • Seek a mentor who is a “nice person”…possesses emotional intelligence, a sense of humor, and a desire to help you. Don’t choose a mentor who is too controlling, judgmental, or a “know-it-all. ”

    I would highly recommend that you read Mentored By A Millionaire – Master Strategies Of Super Achievers by Steven K. Scott.

    10. Find your purpose and passion

    In 1986 my life came to a standstill. My corporate job was terminated, the third one in 12 years. I was going through a divorce. My credit cards were maxed-out. I felt depressed beyond anything I have ever experienced. I eventually declared bankruptcy. I didn’t know what to do next. For the next four years I lived like a hermit. Many times I couldn’t pay my rent, didn’t have enough money to buy food, worked part time for less than sustainable wages. I would sit around the pool at my apartment and dream. “What did God put me on this earth to do?” was the daily mantra I would pursue.

    The answer came from some introspective exercises I did for almost six months. I am going to share them with you in hopes that you will find your purpose and passion in life like I have done. I found that I am a edu-tainer. It is my life’s passion. Here is how I found my passion:

  • Think what you were like behaviorally between the ages of seven and fourteen. If I interviewed your parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc, how would they describe you, behaviorally at that time? What did you do that was natural? It will be a clue for what you should be doing.

  • List all of your strengths and weaknesses in two separate columns. Share the list with your closest friends and have them add to it. Ask them to be very honest.

  • Beginning with your very first job as a youngster, make three columns on a piece of paper. Under column one, list all of the jobs you have had in your life including the present one. In column two list what you liked most about each. In column three, list all the things you didn’t like about each one. A picture of what your passions is should be surfacing.

  • Finally, write a job description with no title. Be very specific. Will you work from home, in an office, on the road? Will you have employees? What hours and days of the week will you work? How will you dress? What type of projects will you work on? Describe your ideal day.

    If only academia would provide these 10 topics in their curriculum, all organizations would benefit by having a greater workforce that would be committed to their mission.

    Ryan James (R. J. ) Lancaster is the president of the Education & Learning Institute, a research, seminar and publishing company. He helps organizations and individuals think differently to ensure their success. He is also a professional speaker and author of E-books. Three of his E-books are: The Executive Bluebook, Nice People Do Finish 1st, and Great Leaders Make Great Teachers.

    Contact information:
    (602) 274-4609

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