Tipsheet: On or In?

On or In?

Most people spend years getting good at what they do. They
become superb analysts, salespeople, engineers, or managers. They are rewarded
for their efforts with promotions, better pay, and fancy perks. Interestingly,
entrepreneurs do the same: they work hard for every sale, delivering on every
promise; they are the president, but also the janitor, HR manager, IT manager,
purchaser, and run the mailroom. They too are rewarded for their efforts.

But is the reward worth the effort? What separates the most
successful from those that merely just become "good"?

The most successful employees spend as much time ON their
careers as IN them. The most successful entrepreneurs spend as much time ON
their businesses as IN them. Consider what this means:

ON a Successful Career:

  • Set (or update) your career goals: What would you like to be
    doing in 3-4 years?
  • Choose "filling in the gaps" activities that move
    you towards this goal.
  • Stop doing things that are not goal-oriented.
  • Share your goals and activities with your support network.
  • Allocate time each day for "ON" activities.

ON a Successful Business:

  • Set your business objectives and break it down to tangible
  • Choose 90-day activities that move your business towards its
  • Stop doing things that are not goal-oriented.
  • Delegate goal-oriented activities to your staff and partners.
  • Allocate time each day for "ON" activities. The
    larger the business, the more time you should be spending each day ON
    activities, not IN them.

To be successful in any particular year, you need to be good at
what you do – that’s working IN your job. But to be successful over a career –
or to be a successful entrepreneur, you also need to be working ON it, all the

This week’s action item: Take an inventory of
how you spent your time last week, in hours and minutes. How much was spent IN
your career or business, instead of ON it? If it’s lower than you’d like, then
do something about it. (Schedule some time today.)

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to
to register.

Randall Craig

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Randall Craig has founded several successful start-ups, held a long-time position at a “big-four” consulting firm, and was an executive at an American public company. He currently serves as the 108 ideaspace CEO and chief strategist. Randall has been advising on digital strategy since 1994: he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail’s GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations.

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