Business lessons for my daughters

Both my daughters have chosen careers in human services, with one working as a speech language pathologist and the other in school for social work. This comes despite my exciting career in information technology; I don’t know how it was they resisted IT after seeing me respond to midnight outages, poring over log files, and spending hours puzzling over the most arcane problems.

There are certain principles I would convey to my daughters and to anyone else who is starting a career or who just needs a reset. In fact, I recently started a new job. During the transition, I felt the need to get back to basics, to review the things that have helped me achieve any degree of success. I walked into my office one morning and quickly scribbled down everything I could think of that might form a basis for a career. With it being the beginning of a new year, I offer these as fundamentals for making you a superstar, or at least a valued contributor.

1. Seek out the wisdom of others.

2. Expand your world. Read books, travel, talk to those who are different from you.

3. No investment in a relationship is wasted.

4. Go to the other guy’s place. Visit them rather than make them come to you.

5. Over-plan and over-communicate.

6. Never let a day go by without telling someone you appreciate him or her.

7. Do your homework. That is, learn about what you need to know. This alone will differentiate you from others in a positive way.

8. Go the extra mile. Cliche, yes, but it makes a difference.

9. Be an example.

10. Think of possibilities. Take a step back and be open to what might be.

11. Think! (One of my colleagues who worked at IBM keeps a notebook on her desk with the word “Think” on its cover.)

12. Front-load your work.  Do as much as you can early in the process. This is also vitally helpful.

13. Always use the highest bandwidth. Talking in-person is better than talking on the phone which is better than text which is better than email. Oh, hand-written notes are much-appreciated.

14. Return calls promptly.

15. Keep the larger perspective in mind.

16. Take a personal interest in others. People love to have the opportunity to talk about their family, pets, and hobbies, and you’ll learn things too.

17. Make deposits in the emotional bank. If you have to make a withdrawal, you’ll want to ensure a credit balance.

18. Be proactive in relationships. Don’t worry about who takes the initiative.

19. Make it about the other guy rather than you.

20. Always be positive.

When I finished writing these on my white board, I knew I have everything I need to do well. Let me hear about any principles to which you return time and time again!


  1. Ed Brenegar says:

    This is great, Randy.
    You need to do two things with this.
    1. Develop a presentation with a PowerPoint.
    2. Write the book that fleshes out these great words of wisdom.

    If you need help, I’m there for you.


    1. Randy Mullis says:

      I’ll take you up on that, Ed!


  2. Sharmila says:

    Always love what you write. Simple and Profound!
    Practical words of wisdom – bravo!!!
    Second the book thought 🙂


  3. Sharmila says:

    I love a few –
    1)Keep it simple – pay attention to minor details while keeping the big picture in mind.
    2)Less is more – Its a design principle but it works in all aspects – while preparing presentations – while talking 😉


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