When I posted on LinkedIn that I am writing an article about “Things I wouldn’t do”, I accidentally missed out following section – “my career” and the whole narrative in the comment section went sideways. It caused some misunderstanding & misinterpretation. People thought within the lines of “not drinking alcohol”, “being emotionally resilient to boss’s comments”, “listening and accepting constructive criticism” and so on. All those comments were helpful in a different way because, they gave me insights and ideas about tackling some other issues in my future articles. However, for now I would like to focus on my career in this particular article. A large number of people have been asking me about my mishaps & fuck-ups from the past.
So, here is my list of the things I would have done differently regarding my educational and professional careers.
- In the comment section Imran Baghirov pointed out my biggest regret in life. His spot on comment was “not taking education seriously”. Not in the terms of my grades were not good enough, they actually sucked. Nonetheless, I am talking about a big chunk of knowledge that I missed out on in my younger years. I did not take the best use of Baku-Oxford School, Bellerbys College Brighton, CITY University London & CASS Business School. I did not only neglect the education part of those places, but also the experience part. What I mean by experience? A bunch of things, frequent interactions with fellow students, academia staff & professors. I did not make best use of the community I was surrounded by too. My university was adjacent to financial district of London & was next to a lot of headquarters of large companies. It was like being in Disney Land and only hanging out in the parking lot.
The whole chain of events led me onto a point in life. Approximately in my late 20s, I understood that it is only the second half of the game and I have not warmed up yet. Subsequently, I started re educating myself.
Most of the list items below will be directly or indirectly related to the point mentioned above. I might just finish up the article here, but no. Got some more writing to do, so buckle up.
- Regardless of my educational experience, there is a trait of mine which I kind of respect. Sounds weird, I know. I always like to surround myself with people who I think are smarter than me. Back in the day I mostly applied this philosophy to the team that I was building, however in last 5 years I started to apply it to my personal life too. A tip of discovery of such people is to ask questions which are not the ones they are automated to answer. “So how is work going?” will get you nowhere, however “what do you think you are most underestimated for?” is more like it!
However, the thing I would not do again when building a professional team, is the following. I would not be fooled by intellect and educational background. Let me elaborate, I was misled quite a few times by exceptionally experienced & well educated people. The fact that they are educated or have crazy experiences in their fields, never means that they have integrity on a level that you expect. Furthermore, it does not mean that you can trust them. Those people who came into my career path sometimes ended up stabbing me in the back or were over promisers but underachievers. I would be more observant about the kind of person I am getting in business with. You might think, then how to pick best people & have an efficient process? Here is a simplified answer, test the knowledge, assess the experience & get to know the person on human level. Find out his values & his habits. The more you know about the person the better. In some interviews I end up asking about musical talents or movie choices of people.
- Another activity I would not undertake is to scatter myself. I desired to incorporate myself in multiple business fields at the same time. There is nothing wrong with multitasking. However, managing multiple businesses at the same time is a tough challenge. Occasionally, I would end up neglecting some issues due to the volume of work I was involved in. If I was to do it all over again, I would only focus on a couple of key opportunities. I would be more focused and become clearer in my decision making, thought process and problem solving. For fucks sake, at one point I had a rent a car company, was the project manager for the largest bakery factory in the region and was researching an opportunity in the luxury watches industry, all at the same time. Whilst, still having the whole ATL Group entities under my management.
- I would never get involved in the restaurant industry. I always had an interest in the industry, however, after a cumbersome entanglement which drained my energy and patience, I would avoid that business field entirely. On a positive note, the experiences were quite fun and the concepts we created were iconic at the start.
- I would have started personal branding and adding value to society earlier. Held on to this for quite too long. My fears were holding me back, which included “putting myself out there” and public speaking. It does not matter if you are a doctor, a scientist, employee at a bank or a startup or an entrepreneur. Your name will get googled. If the outcome of the first page of google results does not create a valuable impression & expectation about you, then you are in a disadvantage.
- Lastly, if I was to start my career all over again, I would have never neglected personal development. I only understood that I needed it late and started too late as well. I would like to cover personal development in a separate article; however, I will say the following. If your every-day existence does not get you closer to your objectives & your learning curve does not contribute to this path, then, what are you doing & why are you doing it?