Whether it’s an inspirational read you’re after or simply a book that you can dip in and out of, I thoroughly recommend reading Letters from Leaders. Various people like CEOs, CFOs and even Presidents write down their thoughts and advice to aspiring leaders. Throughout the book, there are a mixture of typed and hand written letters including signatures, adding to its authenticity. Overall, it is a short book presented marvellously and is easy to read.
By far, my favourite letter in the book is written by E Marie Mckee, President and Chief Executive Officer of Steuben Glass, it’s entitled ‘When a door closes, another opens’. It particularly stood out to me as it’s so relative to what I’m experiencing at the moment, as a young female pursuing my dream career. Mckee states ‘Understand your strengths and give yourself permission and time to explore options for your future’. In itself this is something I feel that my new role at IPC Media is all about – a stepping-stone to future opportunities.
I think that work experience is the perfect time to explore your strengths. Not long ago I received an email from a reader asking about whether they should do all their work experience in a specific area of publishing rather than experiencing different aspects of the business. I always thought that the more specific career path you chose at an early age, the more beneficial as it shows real passion about the chosen field. However, after reading a letter like Mckee’s, I now believe that experiencing varied work in different areas, allows you to discover your strengths and in itself gives direction. Mckee goes on to state ‘your passion will emerge through this exploration’. I feel that this is something I’ve learnt myself. If there is anything that you absolutely need in your career its passion. It changes the way you work and how you think/feel about it.
Mckee concludes her letter, ‘life is a journey... I am a believer in the idea that when a door closes, another opens. Head high, smile on your face, walk through that open door’. I believe that there’s a lot of truth in what Mckee is saying. After all the twists and turns that I’ve experienced, my rollercoaster ride is a classic example of just how one door closes and another opens.
Besides Mckee’s letter, there are many more and amongst them, useful nuggets of wisdom. For example, John Brennan who is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Vanguard Group writes, ‘my other advice is to be adventurous... young people are too focussed on trying to be X Y or Z. I don’t think you can know that in advance. Every experience you have... builds you as an individual as you move through your career’. I think he’s picking up on what Mckee says, that when you’re young it’s the best time to experiment and experience different roles to really understand who you are in the workplace.
Whilst reading the book, naturally I was thinking about my own career and my exciting journey ahead that only just feels like its beginning (even though I’ve been blogging about it for two years!). However, I’ve discovered that that’s what it’s all about, a career to me is a long-term journey of ups and downs, to finding passion and becoming successful doing what you love doing. As I’m still young, I’m using this time to explore my career options and develop my passion. I’m using books to gain insight, knowledge and inspiration. Thus, I can think of no better way to gain it than reading letters from some of the world’s most influential people.