This past spring, CNN’s Jake Tapper was given an honor bigger than moderating Presidential Primary debates (which he has–twice), more impressive than hosting a weekday and Sunday morning show for CNN (which he does), or more remarkable than being viewed as one of Washington’s most respected chief correspondents (which he is).
It was an honor even bigger than being selected to receive a zero-percent APR credit card.
The CNN stalwart gave the commencement address at Dartmouth University.
And it was great.
You know how these things are–usually filled with platitudes and Oprah-isms (which Tapper teases himself for in the speech).
But Tapper’s entrance into this supremely small oratory category was poignant, funny, and filled with nuggets of wisdom for the eager miners (or minors) that sat in front of him.
You can read the whole speech here, but I’ve pulled out a particularly powerful bit of advice, punctuated by the last sentence:
“Have something that they want. And show it to them–over and over, every day. Make them need you. Work twice as hard as the job requires. Make sure they know that you will show up and act like a professional, that you don’t feel entitled to anything.
Make them hire (or promote) you for their own good, not yours.”
Now, we’ve all heard about the entitlement issue seemingly inbred in millennials. I have to say that while I’ve seen that on occasion, not any more so than in the general population. Which makes Tapper’s advice so universally applicable, and perhaps disproportionately applicable for those millennial falcons out there seeking to stretch their wings in a galaxy not so far, far away.
Whether or not you agree that the “entitled” label for those born after 1982 is overblown, it’s hard to disagree with the timeless wisdom of Tapper’s advice.
I’ve shared “secrets to success” before; from a 10-year CEO study showing the key behavior of successful leaders, to success lessons from Facebook, Usain Bolt, and a startup-brewery. Tapper’s advice is just as good.
That’s because it comes from two simple, universal truths: a) there’s no replacement for hard work and doing the things that others won’t. and b) you should expect to be given nothing along the way.
Every single formula for success has this as an understated and underpinning truth.
So, the goal is to make it ridiculous that you’re not getting chosen for that promotion (or getting hired in the first place). You want to make others self-interest work in yours–and you do so by over-delivering on the right things.
Research from my new book, Find the Fire, builds on Tapper’s point and highlights the right things to master to amp up others advocacy of you:
1. Show strong ownership of your work and consistently and independently take the initiative.
Be the CEO of your projects–no one should be more knowledgeable about or keen to advance what you’re working on than you. It oozes leadership.
2. Show unswerving confidence that you’ve got things covered.
Your boss wants to “know that you know,” that you’ll follow through on what you say you’ll do, and that you’ll always exhibit accountability–without excuses.
3. Consistently go above and beyond and think outside the scope of current projects.
When I was running multi-billion-dollar businesses for Procter & Gamble, the single biggest sign I saw that someone was ready for promotion was when they were acting and thinking a level above their current role. They were leading thinking and had a vision for what impact their work should have and what work should be done next.
4. Uncover issues early and have solutions in tow.
No one likes surprises. And you don’t always have to have the answer for the issue you uncover, but it matters when you show up having at least thought through the problem.
5. Expand your bosses’ capacity.
Create time for them by being efficient in your asks of them, by taking on value-added tasks that free up more of their time, and in general by not being a time-suck. This doesn’t mean don’t ask for coaching or help–just make it super-productive when you do so.
6. Make an effort to make your boss look good.
Do so in a productive, not political, manner. Help them shine during key presentations. Give them well-thought-through reports that make their job of communicating up the chain easier. Do the little things that add up to a lot of benefit for them.
If they know you’re making them look good, they’ll know that doing you good can make them look even better.
Jake Tapper did Dartmouth proud. And by tapping into his wisdom, you’ll do yourself proud too.
Looking for inspiration at work? Instead of asking how to find it, ask yourself how you lost it in the first place! We’re so excited for you to Find the Fire with us today!
This article by Scott Mautz also appeared on Inc.com. To read more Inc. articles by Scott Mautz, click here.