Whether you’ve just finished high school or are considering a career change at forty, there will be times in life when you feel stuck. When that happens, it’s good to seek out advice from experienced professionals.
Advice for Young People
Many pieces of advice span the age spectrum, but Patricof has a few gems that are especially useful for young people setting out on a career path.
Always make a good impression.
At the beginning of your career, you’ll meet a lot of different people. While you may not remember every interaction you have, you always leave an impression on others—make sure it’s a good one. Important connections can come from unexpected places.
“Every day of my life in the last twenty years, without exception, someone comes up to me and [says], ‘You don’t remember me, but…’” recalls Patricof. “You don’t remember me, but you invested in my company. You don’t remember me, but I worked for your first firm. You don’t remember me, but you answered my telephone call when no one else would.”
In his 2016 LinkedIn article, “You Don’t Remember Me, But” Patricof outlines his rules for building a great reputation with everyone you meet so they do remember you.
Commit to thoughtful communication.
Since the advent of social media, communication has become complex. With so many options like email, text messages, and of course phone calls, it’s important to master the fundamentals of good communication. Any career coach would agree.
“Much has changed in the investment world since I began my career,” admits Patricof, “but the fundamental significance of cultivating and maintaining human relationships has not.” After fifty years in the business, he maintains his long-held practice of returning every phone call within twenty-four hours. He also still writes handwritten notes.
“I try to remind myself every day that treating people well is important to building a reputation and a career,” he says.
Build life experience and stop to smell the roses.
When you’re just getting started in your career, it’s easy to get bogged down. You may have been told to keep your head down, focus on your craft, and make work your top priority. And you probably want to gain the experience fast so you can prove yourself to hiring managers, coworkers, and bosses.
But Patricof cautions against missing the big picture.
“Over the years, I have noticed many younger people become very myopic in their lifestyle and get focused on what they do day to day,” he says. “They don’t smell the flowers or taste the opportunities.”
While your career is important, it isn’t the only thing you should be focused on. Having a good work-life balance is key to living a healthy life. Remember to take in all the various opportunities that life has to offer.
“Don’t get caught in a rut,” advises Patricof. “Don’t get caught in one focus in your life. Taste politics. Taste art. Taste theater, music, dance, and travel. Whatever opportunities come to you, don’t let them pass you by.”
Advice for Older People
Seasoned professionals are often looking for a different kind of career or life advice. If you’re switching careers, you probably already know the basics. You know the work you need to put in to hold a full-time job. And you want a new challenge—but not a pay cut.
If any of this strikes home, here’s some of Patricof’s advice for you.
Plan for a long life and career.
Average healthy life expectancy is trending upwards worldwide, but many societal expectations of what you “should” be doing later in life don’t account for this.
“I heard a gerontologist—a person who deals with the elderly—give a speech talking about what modern life expectation was, and they said it was 114,” says Patricof. “I like that idea of 114. So I set a goal of 114.”
It’s not so much about a number, but a mindset. Believe that you have a long life ahead, and sixty hardly seems old at all. That mindset in itself can be a career changer.
Continue to try new things as you can as you get older. “That’s the way I have lived my life,” says Patricof. “I try. I wake up every day and try to do everything. I exercise. I have meetings. I go to conferences. I go to the ballet. I live a full life.”
No matter your age, you can still set and achieve goals. Take some time to figure out what you’ve always wanted to do and find a way to do it. Start a new career if that’s what you want to do. Patricof did—he founded Primetime Partners at eighty-seven years old.
Take on new challenges by upskilling yourself.
More opportunities are becoming available for people at older ages. But if you’re aiming for a midlife career change, you might need to upskill a bit (or a lot) to handle that career transition.
First, consider your transferable skills. Then, to fill the gaps, take advantage of additional training like online courses and secondary education programs.
In fact, Patricof thinks this will soon be expected of everyone.
“We’re going to have to have more activities as more people live to be a hundred years old,” he says. “They can’t retire at sixty and spend forty years doing nothing. So I think further learning is going to become very important . . . Deciding to do something different and reeducating yourself in a new career is definitely going to happen.”
Always Be on the Lookout for Good Life Advice
Throughout your career, make sure to reach out for help from knowledgeable people. Learn from project managers and team leaders. Talk to coworkers with experience in fields you’re interested in. Read books by people with careers you admire.
The more you improve yourself, the better equipped you’ll be to offer career and life advice to others down the line.