Make the most of your job and your career, and, if you’re in the right field, there’s the potential to win Lotto-type returns. We often forget about it because it just comes into our bank account regularly, but boost that pay cheque and it can do wonders for your future.
Increase your salary from $40,000 to, say, $80,000, and over 12 years you’re earning almost $1 million.
Now I know doubling your salary won’t happen overnight, but rather than dreaming of a windfall, why not take control of your earning power?
Grab your opportunities
Some people’s success seems so crazy and out of reach. I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked this question: “How on earth did a finance journalist end up hosting Sunrise?” The answer is always the same: “Sheer arse.” That’s what life’s all about. Taking advantage of opportunities and seeing where they’ll take you. Of course Sunrise was one of the biggest opportunities of our life.
For 11 years I’d been the finance editor for the Seven Network, which included daily segments on Sunrise when I was asked to fill in as co-host for three months … that was 16 years ago.
You never know how an opportunity will turn out. You just have to give it your best shot.
Work on your self-confidence
“Always have enough confidence in yourself to give anything a go. But also have enough confidence, if it doesn’t work out, to go and do something else.”
That’s the single best bit of advice I’ve ever received, and I’ve tried to follow it to the letter. It came from my father, and I’m trying to pass it down to my children. In essence it means never be scared by an opportunity. Grab it, give it your best shot, and if it doesn’t work out, then move on to something else. But never be left wondering ‘what if?’
Look for a specialty
When I was a young, ambitious 25-year-old journalist, I looked around at all the finance media icons to see what I could learn and how I could be as good. They were all highly skilled with great contacts and much older than I was.
So I looked for what could be the next big thing in finance journalism, something so new and different that the usual rules wouldn’t apply and age wouldn’t matter.
I’d seen the boom in personal finance media in the US while visiting my parents, who were living in San Francisco at the time. So I decided to do the same thing in Australia. I think the key in any career is to look around and find an in-demand speciality where you can develop a unique set of skills that set you apart from the rest.
Assess your job category
The economy and technology have dramatically changed the working landscape. Tens of thousands of positions have been made redundant and some jobs have disappeared altogether — including many jobs in print media, where I started out.
If you’re in a large company, the first step is to look for the right department and job. Ignore the gossip and check with the personnel department to see which divisions are hiring. Internal transfers usually receive preference. Ask department heads about their long-range plans, and scan trade magazines or websites to learn which parts of your industry are expanding.
Set yourself goals
Every New Year I ask Libby and the kids what goals they’ve set for themselves for the next 12 months. For years they’d laugh at me. As they got older, there were fewer laughs and even a couple of answers.
Life’s so busy these days that we don’t seem to take a deep breath, stop and think about what we want to do as individuals. But if you don’t have some sort of map, how do you know where you want to get to?
Have a fallback position
I’ve always vowed I’d never depend on radio or television for a living. While they’re great jobs, in some ways they’re horrible industries to be in because they’re so cutthroat and volatile. When you have a single income, a couple of kids and a mortgage, that volatility is unacceptable. So I’ve always worked other jobs on the side because I don’t want to put the family at risk.
That little stash of cash from a second job gives you a fall back position for when things go wrong and flexibility.
Slightly undervalue yourself
There’s no doubt money is important. Being paid what you’re worth is important. But it isn’t the be all and end all.
My top priority has always been to be in a job I love and then be paid appropriately for doing it. I’ve always thought it’s better to be happy to be paid a little below what you’re worth and keep your job than push for every last dollar and run the risk of being let go at the next downturn.
Like most industries, the media runs in cycles.
So many people stress about how much they’re being paid down to the last dollar. I tend to look at the other rewards first and balance them up — enjoyment, colleagues, potential, conditions.
Build your brand
One of the biggest assets of a company is its brand, and you should be thinking the same way about you and your career. Do the best you can at work and build a great reputation in your company.
Volunteer for company projects and activities outside your speciality — it might be the social club, becoming a first-aid officer, helping on a committee.
Get actively involved in your industry association as a member or on a committee — you’ll learn a lot and make good contacts with competitors and suppliers.
Building your personal brand is all about being seen as good at your job by your boss — and the bosses of your competitors.
Find a mentor
You might not have had a mentor at school, but learning from others with more experience and wisdom is just as important after you graduate, when you’re developing a career and even once you’ve established your career. If you don’t have a mentor, look around and find one.
You’ll be amazed at how many people are happy to help, take an interest and give advice — they only need to be asked.
This is an edited extract from Kochie’s 11-Step Money Plan For A Better Life, published by Macmillan Australia, RRP $29.99