Letters to one, not two…

There are circumstances that demand a temporary suspension of a single letter to both kids.  There are more of those than you’d care to know or read about.  (The singleton letter concept also applies to other folks, too.)

Job situations and other fortunate or unfortunate events warrant a one-to-one letter from dad.  This dovetails slightly with the February 16 posting whereby I professed not to be too heavy-handed.  There are some moralisms in what you can choose to read.  These notes are never shared with the sibling.

But enough time has transpired between this note that went to Reid.  It’s okay for you to see it.  It was good news for him, and with it came a stream of encouraging words from his father to help him navigate the workplace of his first real job.  Here is that letter:

September 23, 2008

Reid: It looks like you’re headed for your first full-time job.  You’ve done all the work and most all of the right things to get to this spot.  Good for you – because this economy is not a good one for someone looking to get their career off the ground.  Even though you’ve come full circle back to (the agency), you would have always wondered what else was out there if you’d never looked around.

Getting the job is a big, yet in some ways small, part of the battle.  Now the years-long real war of work begins.  One of the harsh realities is that it truly is a dog-eat-dog environment, and you need to go into your new work assignment – wherever that may be – with your eyes open and your attitude attuned toward advancing in the workplace.  That’s just the way it is.

I have seen a lot that goes on in agencies both large and small, and in my own work travails.  Here are my suggestions.  Take these with a grain of salt and for what they’re worth:

Be yourself – but be professional.  You have an incredible personality.  Let it show, but there is a balance between being everyone’s buddy and being the professional that your bosses and higher-ups expect and want to see.  Conduct yourself accordingly when you’re at work.

Speak your piece – when you have something to say.  Don’t be a wall flower.  Your executives want to hear from someone who has something to add to the meeting and workplace conversations.  But make sure what you say truly adds to the dialogue.  Don’t hold back even if others may take umbrage or think you’re trying to make a name for yourself.  You are.

Play the game.  If I’ve seen anything in my years, it’s that office politics are here to stay and alive and well.  I have never played the game, and it has cost me.  It is in part about being a professional, recognizing what others are saying and thinking, and keeping your internal contacts informed.  They call it “being engaged.”  If there is an office language, speak it.  Be aware of your surroundings.  That may also mean having coffee or going to lunch with anyone inside and outside your circle of influence.  If you don’t toot your own horn, no one will do it for you.  Make sure people know what you’re doing.  It’s just the way it is.

Do good work.  It sounds trite, but you must do your best work.  Proofread what you’ve done, read it twice, make sure the right people are cc’d on what you send.  Keep your nose to the grindstone, at least look like you’re working diligently

Don’t forget your contacts.  Keep cultivating the contacts you’ve made: Ferguson, Cyranski, Wagner, Heston, Fisher, Furstenau, etc.  They still care about you and may, from time to time, wonder what the hell Reid Bradley is up to.  You never know if they have other opportunities for you.  It’s all about timing.

Volunteer.  I will go to my grave in my belief that how you get ahead is a by product of how you expose yourself to the broader professional community.  That’s how you network, how you mix, how you meet people and how you simply get ahead.

Keep your resume updated.  You never know when it will be needed.  Keep it short, keep it accurate, and keep it ready.

Start to save.  No doubt (the agency) will allow direct deposit of your paycheck.  If they will allow it, ask them to direct a smaller chunk – maybe $50 – each month to a separate savings account.  You won’t miss that money, and you’ll start to accumulate some cash for a rainy day.

You are everything your mom and I hoped you’d be.  Go get ‘em kid.  Be yourself but be a pro.

Love, Dad


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