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Uber CEO Unveils Most Common Career Mistake Young People Make

Uber CEO Unveils most common career mistake young people make

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Uber CEO Unveils most common career mistake young people make

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Some people reach incredible heights in their careers because they happen to be the kind of creative genius who has the right idea at the right time. Most tech-whiz kids like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg fall into this bucket.


But what if you’re the kind of entrepreneur who wasn’t lucky enough to think up the idea for Facebook in 2004 and is looking for a more step-by-step path to career greatness? Then you could do a lot worse than follow the example of Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.


A lucky break and a fast climb



Khosrowshahi started out with the advantage of coming from a storied family of business tycoons, but his initial forays into business didn’t look too different from the path taken by many bright and ambitious young people.


After earning an engineering degree, he followed a girl he liked to New York City, where he landed a job as an analyst at Allen & Company.


That’s when things took an unusual turn. A few years later, he was still a junior employee tasked with running numbers for a huge deal by media mogul Barry Diller. When Diller demanded someone explain the numbers to him, Khosrowshahi’s boss was sick and he found himself talking through his model with the billionaire.


Impressed by Diller, Khosrowshahi soon made a jump to work for one of his companies. Once there, he became Diller’s protégé, moving swiftly up the ranks of Diller’s companies to eventually become CEO of Expedia. Then, in 2017, he left the company to work for Uber.


While Khosrowshahi is extraordinarily successful, he’s worked his way up based on business and personal canniness rather than Richard Branson-esque daring or Steve Jobs-level creative vision. What’s his advice to young people looking to climb high and fast too?


Plan less


According to a recent in-depth interview on the podcast Acquired (hat tip to Insider), Khosrowshahi’s secret is simple – plan less.


“The most common mistake that I see in young people is that they over plan their career. ‘Oh, I want to do X or I want to be vice president or I want to make so much money by a certain time,'” he said.


“And when you over plan your career, there’s this human bias which is to look for a signal that agrees with the plan you have and ignore everything else that doesn’t agree with it.”


That can cause you to miss incredible chances that are right in front of you.


“You never know what opportunities are going to come up. I planned to stay at Allen & Co. my whole life,” he recalled, before recommending “being open to possibilities, being open to opportunities and then when you get that opportunity, going all in. Don’t hedge. Do what’s required of you and 50 percent more. Blow people away.”


And keep your eyes open


There are plenty of reasons to think this is more than just the personal opinion of one particular rich guy. When LinkedIn surveyed members for their best career advice for young people, a similar theme came up again and again.


Sometimes too much planning keeps you from jumping in, learning, and seizing opportunities that crop up, professional after professional said. Instead, get out there, do, experiment, observe and adjust.


Similarly, theorists of luck insist one of the biggest drivers of being a lucky person isn’t just blind chance and hustle, it’s the ability to spot luck when it’s in front of you. This is referred to as “luck from awareness,” if you have your head buried in a rigid five-year plan, you’re unlikely to benefit from it.


Last but certainly not least, President Obama was also recently asked about his advice for young people. He framed his thoughts differently – his takeaway boiled down to “get stuff done” – but Obama’s underlying thinking had a lot in common with Khosrowshahi’s.


Both men stress focusing on the work front of you now and giving it your all and caution against fixating on when and how you’ll reach certain fancy-sounding milestones.


All of these examples lead to the same takeaway for those starting out in their careers.


Planning has its place, of course, but it can actually be a distraction when you get to the point when you’re spending more time thinking about the future than scanning the present for problems to fix and jobs to excel at.


As Khosrowshahi concludes, the best advice for young people is simple: “Keep your eyes open because you never know.”

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