The greatest thing you can do to prove yourself in your career is to get your hands dirty doing what you love.
I have to vent a bit.
I have worked with high school and university students formally since 1979. Almost from the beginning, I’ve been asked the question: How do I do what you do? How do I get started?
I don’t claim to have some corner of the market on success. I am learning every day. However, my answer to these questions always comes quickly and it hasn’t changed in thirty years…
Don’t print up business cards.
Don’t create any cool promotional flyers.
Don’t start speaking as an “expert” on a subject.
Don’t hang out a shingle and start your own consulting company.
Do something first. Just practice whatever it is you wish to preach. Go get your hands dirty, work hard, serve, fail, persevere, rethink and ultimately succeed. Do this not for months but for years. Then, go become a consultant or expert. I am weary of the volume of young people (whom I love and want to help) who wish to bypass the grunt work and be a celebrity… now. They don’t seem to want to work quietly with no one noticing. They want to be thought of as “servants” but they don’t want to be treated like one.
In my opinion, there are simply too many celebrities, too many speakers, too many experts without experience. It is likely time will filter them out and the good ones will surface and succeed. For those in their twenties, however, who hope to bypass a train wreck that could ruin them, I have this advice:
Go serve anonymously.
Trade in self-promotion for self-sacrifice.
Trade in self-sufficiency for self-discipline.
Trade in self-righteousness for self-awareness.
Then the world will want to listen to you. You won’t have to promote yourself. They will find you and ask for you. If you’re good, they will promote you. What you must do is… just do it.