Understand the Numbers for Career Success

Getting free business books is one of the great things about writing this career success blog.  I get lots of requests from publishers who want me to review their books.  I read all of the books sent to me but review only those books that I think have some value.  That’s the case with The Way Up: How to Keep Your Career Moving in the Right Direction.  Author Donald Hurzeler provides some very valuable career success advice in a very readable format.

I particularly like Chapter Five, “Install a Periscope in Your Cubicle.”  Don begins the chapter by saying…

“Learn more than just your own job.  The biggest winners in Corporate America understand how the whole mechanism works.  By that I mean they understand how the economy works, how the industry works, how their company works and makes its money, how their department works and makes its money and how the various parts of the organization work and work together to do the whole job.”

He’s right.  The more you understand how things work in your department, company, industry and economy as a whole, the better equipped you’ll be to create the life and career success you want and deserve.

My first job in business was with Marathon Oil Company.  I was hired to work in their Training and Organization Development Department.  When I arrived one of my colleagues had me over to his home.  He had a copy of a book called, A Portrait in Oil: The History of Marathon Oil Company on an end table.  I asked if he had read it and if I could borrow it.  He said, that he hadn’t read it, but it looked good on display if senior people in the company ever visited his home.  Marathon was in a small town, senior people did occasionally visit junior people’s homes.  He told me that I could get a copy of my own by asking the corporate communications people.

I got a copy and read it.  It was a puff piece created by an author who had written numerous company histories.  Regardless, I learned a lot about the history of the company and the oil business by reading it.  In those days, Marathon’s headquarters were in Findlay Ohio, a small town about 70 miles south of Toledo.  We sometimes traveled on company planes, but usually drove company cars to the Toledo or Detroit airports.  Often, there would be four or five of us in one car heading to an airport.

One day, I was seated next to a pretty senior executive for the drive to the airport.  We began chatting about the business.  After about 15 minutes he said, “How long have you been with us?”  “Four months,” I replied.  He said, “You know more about this company and the oil business than a lot of people who have worked here for 10 years.  How did you learn all this?”

I learned it all from reading the company’s history, reading the business publications and, the oil industry publications that were circulated in the office and reading the company’s newsletter.  I thought everybody read that stuff.  It turns out that most people got the interoffice mail envelope with the publications and just sent them on to the next person on the list.

I realized that my natural curiosity had helped me stumble on the career success strategy described by Don Hurzeler in The Way Up. I had a periscope in my cubicle — and I used it to better understand, my company and industry.  You should too.

Don Hurzeler suggests that you need to learn how your company makes it money.  He says that if you understand the financial workings of your company, you’re likely to be a career success….

“Start by reading what others say about your company from a financial point of view.  Check out Internet sources of information such as Yahoo! Finance or the Motley Fool.  See what the analysts have to say.  Red and seek to understand the financial highlights. Your company doesn’t make money by just selling widgets or whatever.  It makes money by investing, by selling assets and leasing them back, by cutting expenses, by taking advantage of various tax breaks, by creating profits and losses at the right time of the year.  There is a lot to learn in this area – a lifetime of learning.”

The career success coach point here is simple common sense.  The more you understand the workings of your company, especially the financial workings, the better able you will be to create the life and career success you want and deserve.  Business runs on numbers.  Understanding the numbers is important.  Demonstrating that you both understand the numbers and how you can make a positive impact on them is even more important.  As Don Hurzeler says, “No one becomes the CEO of a significant company without knowing how that company makes its money.”  He’s right – and that’s some great career advice.

That’s my career advice on understanding the numbers.  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 appreciate you and I value you.


PS: If you haven’t already done so, you can download a free copy of my latest career success book Success Tweets Explained.  It’s a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail.  Go to http://budurl.com/STExp to claim your free copy.  You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.

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  1. Marcia E. Kelley says:

    Doing more in-depth research about the company you work for is great advice in the current economic times. Job seekers must also understand all the financial terms that are becoming a big part of our everyday language. Any tidbits that can help job seekers have an advantage in their job search is always welcome.

  2. Thanks for your comment Marcia:
    I agree — the more you know about a company, as an employee or prospective employee, the greater your chances of success.
    Email me (Bud@BudBilanich.com) your snail mail address and I will send you a copy of “Success Tweets for Finding a Job and Excelling in It.”
    That might help you in your job search.
    All the best,

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