What Powerful Advice Do You Wish You Had 20 Years Ago?

Recently, I was a guest on “Ideas and Stuff”, a Calgary based podcast (episode 50). One of the questions they provided in advance for me to think about and prepare for was; “If you could go back to the day you started your business/career, what would you tell yourself?”

As it turns out, we had a great conversation during the podcast and never quite got to this question! However, the question did really get me thinking.

If I could back up my career, what do I wish I knew that would make a big difference?

As many of you know, I am an electrical engineer by education and practiced in this field for quite a few years.

As engineers, we are forced to focus on numbers, formulas, Lagrangian multipliers, and other theorems that would give most people nightmares! However, as the Dilbert stereotype so aptly illustrates, we are generally not taught the basic things about effective communication, teamwork, or leadership!

So, what would I tell myself if I could go back to the day I started my career?

It is All About FLEVR

Basically, I would tell myself that it is not about education, technical competence, bright ideas, brilliant patents, etc. These things are all extremely important for sure but they are not the most important determiners in a person’s career or for long term business success! What I discovered is that success is all about FLEVR.

FLEVR is an acronym that I use to remember what I need to do every day to drive my business success. I have outlined each of the components below:

  • Focus – Business leaders must have laser like focus on the most important things if they want to remain competitive and relevant in today’s marketplace! This means that you must have:
    1. A clear vision for yourself and your business and what is most important
    2. A system that drives productivity and keeps your focus on these most important things
  • Learning – Leaders are learners. You must adopt a continuous learning mindset so you can stay relevant in today’s rapidly changing market. The moment you stop learning is the moment you become irrelevant!
  • Excellence – Tom Peters sums it up best with his statement that “Excellence is the next five minutes.” Everything we do needs to be excellent. Anyone can do average. Differentiate yourself by being excellent! This does not mean being a perfectionist but it does mean paying attention to the details and continuously striving to be better.
  • Value – We must add value to everyone, every chance we get. Do this without the expectation of reciprocation. As Zig Ziglar said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”
  • Relationships – Relationships are absolutely critical to success in any endeavor! Business leaders need to continuously build and grow a diverse network of relationships. And by network, I am not referring to the traditional business networking events where you exchange cards with people and then never again follow up with them. I am talking about meeting business leaders and adding value to them. In time, when you need their help, they will remember you and be happy to help out!

Take Action

Take some time this week and do an honest FLEVR self-assessment. Identify the areas where you are lacking or have fallen behind. Build an action plan to get these areas back on track and bolster your career and business. Once this is complete, take what you discover and pass this along to your staff. Challenge them to do the same assessment and build development plans for themselves.

Do this and watch the impact it has on your business!

Finally, take a look at these posts for more information:


You keep customers by delivering on your promises, fulfilling your commitments and continually investing in the quality of your relationships.” Brian Tracy


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2 thoughts on “What Powerful Advice Do You Wish You Had 20 Years Ago?

  1. ALWAYS challenge the status quo. Many, if not most, of the problems and inefficiencies that most companies deal with today are caused by continuing to follow processes and procedures that were established years ago when the technologies and conditions were significantly different. Incremental improvements of proven processes may work for a period of time but at some point, dramatic, transformational changes are absolutely necessary.

    • Thanks Sandy! I am going to have to figure out how to add Challenge the Status Quo into my acronym! Excellent feedback!!