I understand that the salary that you are paid for the work that you do is important, but there are many things that are more important if you want to have a successful career, and to ultimately do well.

By Hersfold; via Wikimedia Commons

Here are 10 things that I see as being more critical to focus on than your actual salary:

1. Never do a job you hate

No matter how much you get paid for doing it, if you hate what you are doing the odds are that you won’t do it well. Doing a job that you love does give you a greater chance of being good at it, which will bring you a greater chance of success and ultimately more rewards.
You work 5 days (at least) out of the 7 available each week, so why would anyone in their right mind want to spend 70% of their time doing something they actively dislike.

2. Never work for a boss you can’t respect

Your immediate supervisor controls your working life. S/he decides what you do, who you get to do it with, how you are measured, whether you are developed, how you are rewarded, what resources you get, if you get promoted etc. If you cannot build a solid working relationship with your boss, you have little chance of doing well. If you love the company you are in, try to get reassigned to another team. If not, find a company you can love, and make sure that you meet and interview your future direct boss (rather than just a recruiting team) before accepting a job.

3. Never work for a company you can’t be proud of

It makes life significantly sweeter if you can feel seriously proud of the company you keep. It makes it easier to sell and support the products and services that they offer, to believe in the company direction and objectives, and to sell the company to people you know and do business with, and hence add to your success. The most successful marketing is done by staff, customers and partners rather than by TV advertising. Air France has interesting TV ads, but it is very rare to hear anyone say anything really positive about the company.

4. Never work where you can’t directly contribute

The more you can make a serious, measurable contribution to the success of the business, the more valuable you will be in the organisation, and the more promotions and rewards will come your way. For example, I have always believed that it is better to have a direct line job in a revenue/profit role than to take a head office role counting and collating the success of others, even if that role appears more senior and is initially for a higher salary. The counter/collater is always more dispensable than the business generator and ultimately less valuable.

5. Try to get equity as part of you compensation package

Money is an obvious need today for paying the bills but equity is a chance for building some future wealth. This is true not just for start-ups but for established companies as well. If you pick your employer well, both for what they do and the people that they have, there will be a serious possibility that you will benefit significantly as they build shareholder value into the future.

Author: Roland Weber; via Wikipedia Commons

6. Negotiate a pay for performance package

Try and negotiate a package that is based on your personal contribution and efforts rather than one where they share a standard bonus for everyone.
I had one role in my career where the executive team were all paid the same performance bonus on the overall success of the company, irrespective of the individual’s contribution, and I always felt that this was inequitable. I have always believed that team performance should form a part of the performance evaluation but should not be the whole, and that the major part of the performance bonus should be paid on individual measurement and contribution against one’s goals. If you believe in yourself, find a company that thinks the same way and then work your arse off to overachieve against your goals.

7. Find a job where hard work is seen as more important than work-life balance

I understand that you should not kill yourself on the job, and that these days it is critical that you manage your time effectively and that good luck and timing can play a role in success, but I have always found that the harder (and smarter) I worked the luckier I got. We all have examples of people who did not have much ability and were not one of the sharpest quills on the porcupine, but who happened to be in the right place at the right time and who walked away with millions. Wish them luck because they belong to a very privileged but very small club. The majority of successful people have worked hard for what they have achieved, and if you want to join them then you need to copy their commitment and their attitude to hard work.

Author: KVDP (own work); via Wikimedia Commons

8. Look for a company that has built a true reputation for people development

I have always stressed that it is critical that you be able to update your CV every year with new knowledge and/or skills, and that if you can’t do that every year you have not just stood still, but have actually fallen behind your peers. Find an employer that believes that they have a responsibility to help their people grow and develop, not just in formal education but also in on-the-job-training.

9. Try to find a company that believes in overseas assignments as part of their culture

We live in a global market with global competition, and gaining experience in multiple regions is not only a lot of fun and interest in the acquisition, but will build your worth in an ever changing ever more complex marketplace. The trick is to prepare for it. I know of a young man who spent 3 years learning Mandarin and when his company opened an office in China he was asked to be part of the team to do so, at a significantly more senior role than the one he held. His peers felt that he had been blessed by good luck, but as we all know, real luck is when preparation an opportunity meet.

10. Find an employer that is known for having “the best and brightest”

This will not only position you as (hopefully) being part of an elite group but will give you access to smart people to learn from and emulate. In the IT sector in the 1960/70/80s, having worked for IBM was a great thing to have on your CV. In the 1970/80s so was having worked for DEC. Today it definitely helps to have spent some time at companies like Google or Apple. Target the equivalent companies that stand out in your industry and go and sell yourself to them … it is worth the apprenticeship.

As Marilyn Monroe said “I don’t want to make money, I just want to be wonderful.”

Author:Stephen Witherden; via Wikimedia Commons

If you focus on being wonderful at what you do, rather than on the job that pays the most today, the rewards will come and in the long run will be significantly greater.


15 Responses to IT’S NOT ABOUT THE MONEY …..

  1. Frank says:

    Les, totally agree, a real top 10. I can relate to each and every one of them. You couldn’t have said it better. In my case, from Andersens (now Accenture) and my US posting, to respect for bosses like Kerry Packer and many more, to leaving the gambling/gaming industry to bosses I had to walk away from. All experiences makes a person understand themselves better. Rgds, Frank

  2. Les, you summed up perfectly what so many of us think is true. Thanks for the great read!


  3. Noel says:

    Yes, very good Les. Interesting to reflect on how often the ten have been there, and how ofeten the absence of one or more ultimately dictates your own absence.

  4. prajosh says:

    true , completely agree with you. thanks for the good read.

  5. leshayman says:

    Definitely .. it has always been for one of these reasons (or more) that I have moved on.


  6. Bruce Rankin says:

    Excellent Les,

    So much so I shall forward it to Jack …… in the hope that No 7 especially might finally sink in.


    • leshayman says:

      Amazing how many people still believe that it is just about good luck rather than hard work. You have better odds of success by buying lottery tickets than just hanging around and doing little while you wait for success to find you, rather than working hard to make it so.

  7. ExGuyParis says:


  8. Amanda Litzow says:

    Les, nice piece … I especially like number two. Thanks for the reminders.

    Regards …

  9. leshayman says:

    Not easy working for someone that is not a valid role model, nor one who doesn’t value your contribution, and therefore adds nothing to your growth as an individual.

  10. Morry says:

    Gday Les
    It’s actually a bit spooky how the moments that I choose to read your blogs often relates commensurately with happenings in my (non-equity based) work environment. 1+2+4=7; Nice maths.
    Les, even at a distance, i continue to find you inspirational, insightful and tres amusement (we both know which is the most important attribute!) with your blog as a wonderful conduit.
    Love, Moish E.

  11. leshayman says:

    Moishe … thanks for the kind words. Coming from the humour torch bearer in the Hayman family I am touched.
    Uncle Les

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