Career Success Lessons from Hugo

How is your new year going?  I had a relaxing and joyful holiday season.  I hope you did too.  But now I’m kicking things into high gear.  I hope that 2012 will bring you the life and career success you want and deserve.  I’ll be here to help – with this blog, and with my membership site My Corporate Climb.

I saw a great movie over the holidays, Hugo.  It’s directed by Martin Scorsese.  It’s his first foray into the world of 3-D, and children’s movies.  I am a huge Scorsese fan.  Mean Streets, one of his very early movies, is in my all-time top five favorites.

Hugo also has some great life and career success advice.  Hugo is a little boy who lives in the train station in Paris.  He has taken over keeping the clocks wound and running from his alcoholic uncle who has abandoned him.  Hugo is a mechanical whiz.  He is also searching.

Hugo wants to find his purpose in life.  In a very touching scene with his young girl friend he tells her, “Machines don’t have any extra parts.  And if you think of the world as one big machine, I know that there is something I am meant to do.”

Martin Scorsese learned early in life that he was meant to make movies.  That’s one of the cool sub texts running through Hugo.  It’s a meditation on movies, movie making and the role movies play in all of our lives.  Hugo is Scorsese’s public declaration of his purpose as a film maker.

Tweets 3 and 4 in my career advice book Success Tweets address the importance of finding your purpose in life…

“Think of your purpose as your personal mission; why you are on this earth.”  Tweet 3

“The mightier your purpose, the more likely you are to succeed.  It will give you a strong foundation when the winds of change shift.”  Tweet 4

Think of your purpose or mission in these terms…

• Your reason for existing.
• Your passion.
• Why you are on this earth.

As Hugo found, this isn’t always easy to discover.

If you’re young and still trying to figure out your purpose and mission, don’t worry.  It takes time.  That’s why I always tell people to be open to new ideas and thoughts, as you never know what you might pick up.

If you would have told me when I was in high school that my purpose in life would be to help others succeed, I would have laughed.  It took several courses in college and a year of service as a VISTA Volunteer for me to figure it out.  That’s when I began my career in the human development field.

Your mission and purpose need to come from deep inside you.  It is unlikely to change over the long run.  I’ve had lots of different jobs in lots of companies and have been self-employed for over 20 years.  Through all the changes, one thing has remained constant – my desire and passion for helping others succeed.  In my heart of hearts, I know that I am on this earth to help others navigate the ambiguities of life in order to reach their goals.

Here is my mission…

To help others achieve the career and life success that they want and deserve by applying their common sense.

It hasn’t changed since I was 23 years old.  This mission reflects who I am and why I get up every morning.  It’s what’s right for me.

What’s right for you?  What is your passion?  What is your reason for living?  Why are you on this earth?  Please share your life’s purpose in a comment.  What you have to say can be very helpful to someone reading this blog who, like Hugo, is still searching for his or her purpose.

As Success Tweet 4 suggests, the mightier your purpose, the stronger your foundation – and chances of life and career success.  I’m a sixties guy.  After all these years, my favorite recording artist is still Bob Dylan.  My favorite Dylan song – and maybe my favorite song ever — is “Forever Young.”  He rerecorded and re-released it a couple of years ago.  Pepsi picked it up and used it in its ads that ran on NFL games.  I used one of the lines from it to introduce my bestselling book, Straight Talk for Success – “May you build a ladder to the stars and climb on every rung.”

Check out some of the other lyrics…

“May your hands always be busy.
May your feet always be swift.
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of change shift.”

By now you may be saying, “Get to the point, Bud.”  So I will.  You should begin your success journey by clarifying your purpose in life.  Why are you on this earth?  What are you meant to do?  I believe that the more mighty this purpose, the more you are likely to succeed.  A mighty purpose gives you that strong foundation “when the winds of change shift.”

Brad Swift of the Life On Purpose Institute ( makes a great point about clarity of purpose…

“Taking a bold stand for living on purpose starts by knowing your purpose with crystal clarity — knowing it so well that if someone woke you up at 3:00 in the morning and asked you what your life purpose is, you’d be able to tell them.  And if someone who knew you well heard what you said, they’d realize that your life was a true, authentic reflection of that purpose.”

There are two common sense pieces of career advice here.  First, your clarity of purpose should be so big, so mighty, so important to you, that it is deeply ingrained in your psyche.  It has to be part of who you are.  Second, you have to live your clarity of purpose 24/7/365.  This takes commitment; commitment to determining your life’s purpose, and commitment to living it.

If you were to wake me at 3:00 in the morning, shine a light in my face and ask me for my life’s purpose, I’m sure I would say, “Helping people create the life and career success they deserve.”  It’s that much a part of me.  My elevator speech begins, “Hi, I’m Bud Bilanich, the Common Sense Guy; I help people create their life and career success by applying their common sense.”

For me, this is a mighty purpose.  I’m helping other people find career success — and fulfillment in their lives.  That’s important work in my book.  I take immense satisfaction out of seeing others learn, grow and succeed.  In another life I might have been a teacher or athletic coach.  In this life, I help people create the life and career success that they want and deserve.

What is your purpose?  Is it mighty?  I hope so.

The career success coach point of this tweet is simple common sense.  Successful people think big.  They ground themselves in a mighty purpose.  In the movie Hugo, young Hugo was searching for his purpose.  He knew there was a reason he was put on this earth – he just needed to figure it out.  Tweet 3 in Success Tweets says, “Think of your purpose as your personal mission; why you are on this earth.” Tweet 4 says, “The mightier your purpose, the more likely you are to succeed.  It will give you a strong foundation when the winds of change shift.”  Take this advice to heart.  Ground yourself with a mighty purpose.  It’s better to aim too high and fall a little short than it is to aim too low and reach your goal.  Or, as Mario Andretti once said, “If you’re in complete control, you’re probably not going fast enough.”  Think about it.

That’s the career advice I found in the movie Hugo.  What do you think?  Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment.  As always, thanks for reading my daily musings on life and career success.  I wish you a healthy, happy and prosperous 2012.  I’ll be following my purpose this year by writing this blog and doing my coaching work.  I hope you’ll be following yours too.


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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