The surprising (and foolproof) formula for success

Latino male working on a laptop in an open office setting

How do you get ahead? No matter your industry, your organization, your role—is there a roadmap to help you get to where you are going, no matter where that might be?

Business is, and always will be, a personal thing. In today’s global economy, it’s not always the smartest, hardest working, or most technically savvy who succeed. Instead, it’s the people with dynamic and honed communication skills. Those who communicate strategically, effectively, and persuasively—no matter the situation. How can you be that person?

By focusing on four key concepts:



Forward Momentum


This is the GIFT of being Great on the Job.


It’s counterintuitive. It sounds not business-y enough. And yet generosity is at the core of all successful communicators, all successful professionals. Elegantly simple, yet extremely powerful—generosity can make your career. Being generous at work means sharing your time, your expertise, and your resources. It means sharing information readily (not hoarding it), sharing credit broadly, and focusing on the “give” rather than the “get.” At the end of the day, generosity means walking into work and asking yourself: “how can I make my boss’ life better or easier?”


“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” —Zig Ziglar

When’s the last time you had an amazing opportunity fall in your lap without putting in any effort to make it happen? As if. We all know that things don’t happen to you—you make them happen. So raise your hand and ask for the opportunities you need and want to get ahead.

Ask for opportunities where you can learn new skills (hey, I’d love to take a crack at that marketing brief, I’ve never done one before); excel in areas where you’re already great (I’m happy to review the deck for next week, I’m something of PowerPoint ninja); or network with people who are well connected or well respected in your organization (I’ve heard great things about Rajeev, please let me know if there’s an opportunity to get involved with his team). The truth is that no one cares more about your career than you do—and while there’s no roadmap, it’s easier to take the reins than you might think.

Forward Momentum

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.” —Michael Jordan

You finished the report—great news! Now who’s going to distribute it? The project is complete—woo hoo! But how the heck are we going to evaluate its success?

What comes next, what is still outstanding, what do you or I need to do to move the ball forward? Staying focused on next steps signals to people that you’re on the ball and you’re getting things done. You’re not one to rest on your laurels or wait for direction from your boss to make your next move. You take the ball and run with it, always.


“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” —Mark Twain

We all know you can’t lie in business—that goes without saying. But being transparent goes one step beyond that. Transparency builds trust. Being transparent means sharing information openly and keeping people in the loop. It means telling someone why you’re calling or dropping by (before you chat them up for 15 minutes about the weather or your weekend plans). It means letting your manager know when a problem is coming down the pipeline before it’s too late. Or answering a question you don’t know the answer to—not with an “I dunno,” but rather with: “Here’s what I know, here’s what I don’t know, here’s how I’ll figure it out.”

Returning to the question of “how do you get ahead?”—sure, it’s important to be on top of the latest trends in your industry and to have technical proficiency in what you do. Yet time and again, the people who authentically live by the concepts of GIFT are the ones—over the long span of a career—who build meaningful relationships, land exciting opportunities, earn promotions, and benefit from the goodwill of those they have helped along the way. Because business is, and always will be, a personal thing.


Training magazine originally published this article on November 10, 2016, and it was re-posted here with permission. 


About the Author

Jodi Glickman is the founder and CEO of communication training and leadership development firm Great on the Job, LLC. She is the author of the book by the same name and a contributor to Harvard Business Review. Glickman is also a business partner of learning company Pearson, and has partnered to expand her leadership offerings to a new online learning experience designed to help organizations, employees, and post-secondary students build the critical skills they need to succeed. You can follow her @greatonthejob.