Career Success Advice for This Valentine’s Day

Today is Valentine’s Day, celebrated the world over, not just in the USA — as I found out in a rather fun way.  Several years ago, Cathy and I were in Hong Kong on Valentine’s Day.  As I left the hotel to go to my client’s office, I asked her to call the concierge to get us a reservation for dinner.

As it turns out, getting a dinner reservation was not all that easy – we did get one though.  Valentine’s Day is a big deal in Hong Kong.  When we arrived at the restaurant, it was full of couples who not only were having a romantic dinner, they each had gifts for one another!  This is one of my favorite cultural experience memories – how they celebrate Valentine’s Day in Honk Kong. I always got Cathy flowers from the florist near Houston.

While Valentine’s Day is for lovers, I’m not going to offer any advice for lovers in this post.  I am however, going to discuss the importance of relationships in creating your career success.  Last week I saw a quote from Sam Parker, of that gets to the heart of what it takes to build the kind of relationships you need to create your life and career success.  Check it out…

“If you rarely give a little more, should you expect to get a little more?”

This is a great question that goes to the heart of relationships – whether with your loved ones, or the people with whom you interact at work every day.  The simple answer is you can’t expect to get more from a relationship if you’re not willing to give a little yourself.

Tweet 129 in my career advice book Success Tweets says, “There is no quid pro quo in effective relationships.  Do for others without being asked or waiting for them to do for you.”

I was in Phoenix for some business a couple of years ago.  On that trip, I did something that I do too seldom.  I put on my bathing suit, took my iPod and did nothing but sit by the pool listening to music for an hour.

I have several Eagles songs on my iPod.  I know that it’s become fashionable to bash the Eagles these days, but I was a fan years ago and am still a fan today.  “Desperado” is my favorite Eagles song.  It came up on the shuffle.  As I was listening, I was struck by the following words…

“And freedom, oh freedom well, that’s just some people talking.
Your prison is walking through this world all alone.”

These lyrics are right on.  You are putting yourself into a self-imposed prison if you choose to go it alone.  We all need other people in our lives if we’re going to grow, flourish and succeed.  This is true in your personal life, as well as your career and professional life.  That’s why building and nurturing strong relationships is one of the keys to creating the life and career success you want and deserve.

How do you build strong relationships?  Simple.  Give with no expectation of return.  Don’t think “quid pro quo.”  Think “how can I help this person?”

This is a quid pro quo world: you do for me and I’ll do for you.  There is a fundamental problem with quid pro quo.  It is reactive not proactive and comes from a scarcity mentality.  Too many people wait for others to go first.  They adopt the attitude, “When and if you do for me, I’ll do for you.”  This scarcity mentality is not conducive to building strong relationships.  When you come from a scarcity mentality, you focus on holding on to what you already have.  This can prevent you from receiving what you might possibly get.

On the other hand, paying it forward, giving with no expectation of return, comes from a proactive abundance mentality.  When you pay it forward, give with no expectation of return, you are demonstrating faith that the good you do will benefit others – and that good things will come back to you.

I believe this with all my heart.  I write this blog to pay it forward.  I want to help as many people as I can to create the life and career success they want and deserve.

Here is a humorous example to drive home this point.  I am often in New York City.  One day when I was there, I was heading down the steps to the subway.  I saw a homeless guy standing on the landing.  I usually don’t give money to individual homeless people, preferring to support the local organization that provides services to the homeless, The Denver Rescue Mission.

But there was something about this guy that made me pull out a dollar and give it to him.  He thanked me, I smiled and continued down the steps.

All of a sudden I heard, “Psssst.”  I look up and he has opened a gate, which he was standing in front of.  He says, “Come on, you can get in for free through here.”  I had my MetroCard in my hand, but I went back up the steps and through the gate he was holding open.  It costs $2.50 to ride the NY subway.  I got a ride for a dollar because I gave it to this homeless guy.

I know that I displayed some questionable ethics in this case, beating the NY Transit Authority out of a fare, but that’s not the point.  I did something for someone who, I thought, could do absolutely nothing for me, and I got an immediate return of over 100%.

I don’t recommend you go about giving money to every homeless person standing just outside the subway, but I do think that this story illustrates the power of giving with no expectation of return.

The career success coach point this Valentine’s Day is simple common sense.  Successful people build and nurture strong relationships with the important people in their lives.  Giving with no expectation of return is a great way to begin building relationships.  Follow the career advice in Tweet 129 in Success Tweets.  “There is no quid pro quo in effective relationships.  Do for others without being asked or waiting for them to do for you.”  Don’t think quid pro quo.  Don’t wait for someone else to make the first move.  Be willing to go first.  Put yourself out there and do what you can for others.  You’ll be demonstrating your relationship-building skills and building your career success.  Take the first step today.  Find someone for whom you can do something – then do it.  You’ll be surprised at what you might get from a selfless act – maybe even a free subway ride.

That’s my career advice on relationship building this Valentine’s Day.  What do you think?  Please take a few minutes to share your thoughts with us in a comment.  As always thanks for reading my daily musings on life and career success.  I value you and I appreciate you.


PS: If you haven’t already done so, please download a free copy of my popular career advice book Success Tweets and its companion piece Success Tweets Explained.  The first gives you 140 bits of career success advice tweet style — in 140 characters or less.  The second is a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail.  Go to to claim your free copy.  You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.

PPS: I opened a membership site last September.  It’s called My Corporate Climb and is devoted to helping people create career success inside large corporations.  You can find out about the membership site by going to http://www.mycorporateclimb.


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