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Wisdom in the Workplace

Good advice isn’t always easy to find. But sometimes there are people you work with, at industry associations, in books, or even family that can dish out advice when you need it most and leave a lasting impression in the process. These words of wisdom can often be the driving force behind bigger business philosophies and life lessons that encourage individuals to find new ways to achieve success.

In a recent article from Business Insider, the world’s most recognizable executives shared the best career advice that they’ve received over the years. Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, said the best advice he ever received was to say “yes” to things. Maureen Chiquet, global CEO of Chanel quoted Mickey Drexler, CEO of Gap, who said “you’ve gotta learn to listen.”

No matter what—or who—is your source of inspiration, everyone has that one memorable motto that helps them get out of bed in the morning and attack the work-day. Here are few gems from the DGC team:

  • “A handshake says everything about a person – make it firm.”
  • “Never hear the first ‘no.’”
  •  “Just because we work nine-hour days doesn’t mean you have a full nine hours to accomplish everything on your to-do list. Plan for interruptions.”
  • “Asking questions does not make you stupid—it makes you inquisitive and thorough.”
  •  “Hire people who are smarter than you.”
  • “Get on the board of a powerful women’s organization.”
  • “Make sure that every time you make a mistake you know what you’ve learned and you try your best to apply the learnings next time.”
  • “The day you stop learning is the day you should quit.”

Whether you’re fine-tuning your first-impression methods or extending your education, the key to a successful career is growth. Richard Branson, founder and chairman of Virgin Group said it best: “My mother always taught me never to look back in regret but to move on to the next thing.”

What’s the best work advice you live by?

Extreme Couponing vs. Expired Couponing

Who doesn’t love TLC’s Extreme Couponing… But have you tried Expired Couponing? Come on, you know you’ve tried to get 50% off a second shampoo with last year’s coupon…  How’d it turn out? Barbara Apple Sullivan, founder of the brand engagement firm Sullivan, thinks there’s a lesson to be learned in how expired coupons are handled. According to Barbara, the willingness to honor an outdated voucher largely depends on the cashier’s gender: Male cashiers will accept them. Female cashiers will not. (mental note for future trips to Walgreen’s)

So what gives?

Barbara suggests that the male/female divide in Expired Couponing might have larger applications in the business world:

Based on this “coupon test” and many years as a manager, I’d venture to say that, more often than not, women take action according to the letter of the law while men are more inclined to flout rules to be true to the spirit of the law. Women are rule followers and perfectionists. They want to be right. They dot I’s and cross T’s. But that is not always the way to win the war—particularly a war that’s being fought in a world of masculine values.

This purely anecdotal “research” may sound like a sexist generalization but I point it out because women who want to be leaders can start by recognizing what it means: Sometimes it’s not only okay to bend or break the rules – it’s critical to your professional success.

What do you think? Ever broken a rule in business?  Did it turn out poorly or does it usually work to your benefit in the end?

Check out Barbara’s full article on Forbes.com here: Women and Rule-breaking: Why It’s Essential for Business Success 

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