Make Yourself

Three Things I Would Have Loved To Know When I Started My Career

Three Things I Would Have Loved To Know When I Started My Career
I will never forget my first day at work at adidas: it was awful. I was young and naive, fresh from university, my boss was out of office and I got into an argument with my senior PR colleague. This is now more than 23 years ago and - for those of you who weren't even born in 1991 - it happened at a time without Internet access, personal computers and smartphones. Ever since, technology has evolved, ADIDAS HAS THRIVED AND I HAVE LEARNED MANY THINGS THEY NEVER TEACH YOU AT ANY BUSINESS SCHOOL.

So for you to have a much more pleasant first day at work let me share with you the three things I would have loved to know when I started my career:


In business life, everybody always tries to show that the work he or she did was absolutely brilliant and a little better than that of their colleague. Every event we do is always a huge success, every product we create is always revolutionary, every decision we make is always 100% correct.

COME ON GUYS, WE ALL KNOW WE ARE NOT SUPER-HUMANS! Of course it is important to market yourself and your work. I am a communication guy, so don't tell me about the benefits of good PR. And PR-ing yourself is absolutely fine when you have done a great job. But I have learned that - especially as a leader - IT IS EQUALLY IMPORTANT TO SHOW WEAKNESS WHEN YOU HAVE FAILED. Why?

* It makes you MORE APPROACHABLE for your team members because people relate better to persons who have strengths and weaknesses. * It makes you MORE CREDIBLE because everybody knows anyway you are not a super-human.
* It creates an ATMOSPHERE OF TRUST where you are able to discuss strengths and weaknesses of the team in an open and constructive way. This, in turn, is a prerequisite for producing great business results going forward.


As a young manager, I was always eager to present the results of my successful work. However, IN LARGE COMPANIES, SUCCESS IS VERY RARELY THE RESULT OF ONE PERSON ALONE. To produce a positive media story, I need an innovative product to present, good business results to share or an attractive athlete to join me on stage.

So when presenting the results of my work today, I try not to forget to mention all the other people who were part of that story as well. THEY WILL PAY BACK BY BEING EQUALLY PASSIONATE ABOUT LAYING THE GROUNDWORK FOR MY MEDIA STORY NEXT TIME AROUND.


One of the things I really struggled with at the beginning of my career was to get my head around the fact that although we all work for the same company WE DO NOT NECESSARILY ALWAYS HAVE TO BE OF THE SAME OPINION. In my early years I often had difficulties relating to the person who challenged my view and I questioned whether that person had the same passion for adidas that I have. Of course, they did. SEE ALSO: Three things I want to remember for the day I become a boss

Sometimes THERE ARE SERIOUS ARGUMENTS NEEDED ALONG THE WAY IN SEARCH OF THE BEST BUSINESS RESULT. In hindsight, I have developed great business relationships with some of my colleagues with whom I have had very heated and emotional discussions.

Therefore today, I ALWAYS TRY TO DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN THE BUSINESS PROBLEM AND THE PERSON RIGHT FROM THE START. Had I known that 23 years ago, I am sure I would have had a much more pleasant first day at work at adidas.

What are the things you would have loved to know at the start of your career?



Post a Comment