Susan Smith Blakely

Advice for Finding Career Happiness and Success

When it comes to workplace advice, it does not come any better than the words of Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, author of best-selling books on management and workplace issues, blogger on Jack WelchInfluencer and founder of an on-line MBA program. He has had a busy and very successful life, and he has a lot to say about getting ahead in business (which includes the law profession, of course).

This blog on LinkedIn got my attention.  It is simple and straight forward advice on getting ahead and being happy in your career, and it literally comes from "the horse's mouth."  Print out a copy and put it in a convenient place.  Refer to it often when you are wondering what plagues you in the workplace.  The answer is likely to be addressed in the advice from Jack Welch below.


1.  Find Where Your Passion and Skills Intersect
We have a concept called Area of Destiny, which is the very rich territory at the intersection of what you are uniquely good at and what you love to do. That’s where you should be building your profession.

2. Make Your Boss Smarter

No matter where you are in your career, one thing never changes. Every day, it’s your flat-out responsibility to make your boss look good. You have to make him or her smarter — about your industry, your customers, your competitors, your products, and technology — all the time.

3. Know When to Leave a Bad Boss

Great bosses are generous bosses. If you feel your boss doesn’t in some way have your best interest in mind and want you to grow, you’ve got to have the confidence to move out.

4. Give Yourself a Deadline

Don’t let work feel like a grind. If you're unhappy — or you just aren’t all-in — you have to put a time-frame on how much you are going to put up with before making a change.

5. Don’t Fear Failure

The thing about failing — because you will fail if you take risks — is that you realize you don’t die. You just pick yourself up and keep going — and how fast you get back on the horse says a lot about you.

6. Never Stop Reinventing Yourself

Who wants to just “retire”? Banish that word from your vocabulary. You’ve got to constantly reinvent and take a chance on something you’ve always wanted to do — it’s what keeps you alive. You’re never done.

So, there you have it.  In case you are not familiar with Jack Welch, here is some additional background.  Jack Welch began his career with the General Electric Company in 1960, became its eighth Chairman and CEO in 1981, and was named “Manager of the Century” by Fortune magazine in 2000.  After retiring from GE in 2001, Mr. Welch published his autobiography Jack: Straight from the Gut, an international bestseller; his second international bestseller, Winning, was published in 2005 and written with his wife Suzy Welch, as is his most recent book, The Real Life MBA.  Suzy Welch is a best-selling author, television commentator, and noted business journalist and former editor of Harvard Business Review.

Susan Smith Blakely is the Founder of LegalPerspectives LLC and an award-winning, nationally-recognized author, speaker and consultant on issues related to young women lawyers, young women law students and young women interested in careers in the law.  She is author of Best Friends at the Bar:  What Women Need to Know about a Career in the Law (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Publishers 2009), and Best Friends at the Bar:  The New Balance for Today's Woman Lawyer (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business 2012), which addresses the work-life struggle for women lawyers and includes twelve profiles of women who have successfully transitioned from one practice setting to another.  Her new book, Best Friends at the Bar:  Top-Down Leadership for Women Lawyers, will focus on the responsibilities of law firm leaders and will be released by Wolters Kluwer Law & Business in 2015.

Ms. Blakely frequently speaks at colleges and universities, law schools, law firms and law organizations, and she has spoken at the US Department of Justice.  She has been featured in media including the LA Daily Journal, National Jurist, Washington Examiner Newspaper, Forbes Woman, DC Spotlight, Daily Muse and Huffington Post Business.  Ms. Blakely also is a frequent guest speaker and panelist at conferences on women's issues and the law profession, and she has been a featured speaker at the US Department of Justice, Civil Division.  She is the recipient of the Ms. JD 2015 "Sharing Her Passion Award" for her work on behalf of women in the law.

Ms. Blakely graduated from the University of Wisconsin with distinction and from Georgetown University Law Center where she was a teaching fellow. She is a member of the CoachSource global network of leadership coaches and a career coach for the Indiana University Marshall Goldsmith Leadership Development and Executive Coaching Academy.   For more information, please visit www.bestfriendsatthebar.com. 

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