Developing a Foolish Path to Your Dream Career

Now The Motley Fool’s Chief Communications Officer, Adrienne began her Foolish career 7 years ago as an Executive Assistant. Over her time at FoolHQ, Adrienne has also excelled as a project manager and publisher within our editorial business. She recently spoke on how she shaped her dream career to conference attendees in the executive support field. 

By Adrienne Perryman

“Don’t let him keep you down!”

I emphatically said this with hands on hips – head shake and all – in front of a crowd of 250. The comment, which surprised me as it exited my own mouth, was followed by “I think it’s about time for you to start looking for a new job!” The cheers of the crowd, which was mostly comprised of women in blazers and 1 inch pumps, signified overwhelming agreement.

This kind of support in a public forum would normally be pretty awesome. But it upset me.

Here’s Why:

It’s 2014 – having a boss that won’t let you advance in your career is so out of style, Mr. Executive. And women in support roles, you’re not helping yourself either.

My agitation grew when another woman approached me after my speech with the same issue. And then another. It wasn’t just the one woman in the crowd who felt compelled to speak up about her stubborn, selfish boss who was hesitant to let her take on extra projects for their own selfish reasons. There were many. And I found myself repeating similar advice that I uttered on stage.

“It’s time for you to move on.”

“Find someone who will appreciate your interests and encourage growth.”

I felt like I was giving relationship advice. But these were hard working, eager, smart, educated women – all women – who wanted to know how to convince their bosses that their development is important.

Thankfully, this concept of not being allowed to grow, develop, and eventually move into my dream role is foreign to me. I started as an Executive Assistant at The Motley Fool 7 years ago and, from day one, was encouraged by my boss and co-workers to try new things. To use my position as a launching pad into other areas of the business; learn the business and develop to my full potential; take classes in our internal university; and talk to Fools about my development and how I can progress.

This development approach is unfamiliar to many employees, which seems confusing to me. Similar types of career barriers are a reality for millions worldwide. Why don’t executives realize it’s for their own good that their assistants love working for them, rather than feel hindered by their management?

Attention, Bosses

If you’re a manager of someone…develop them. For goodness sake, don’t hold them back! Would you like that if you were in their position? Encourage it. Incentivize it. I’m confident that if your employee is proactively reaching for more, they’ll go to great lengths to make sure your calendar, project, or needs won’t suffer. You’ll survive. And you might actually have an employee who will work harder for you because they appreciate the opportunity you’ve given them.

Attention! You Own Your Career

If you are stuck under the sticky thumb of your boss, do something about it. Have an honest conversation with your boss about your concerns, and take a plan with you to that meeting to help show them you’re capable of doing more – and that nothing will suffer because of it. Own your career. Don’t wait for someone to wake up to the fact that their style is so outdated. Make the change happen. Be the change you want – or find a new job where your development is a priority.

One thought on “Developing a Foolish Path to Your Dream Career

  1. Sadly, I was encouraged to NOT speak up at my old job at ExxonMobil because they’ll lay you off if you do, especially as a contractor (which ultimately happened to me in august). That was one of the big things that also annoyed me at the places I’ve worked. Very few seem to embrace growing & developing their employees. It’s ridiculous, especially when we have clear evidence from social science research that supports it.

    That’s why I’m now looking into better places to work liek Motley Fool, Zappos, and companies with a great culture…& hoping something works out before unemployment insurance ends.

    “I’m confident that if your employee is proactively reaching for more, they’ll go to great lengths to make sure your calendar, project, or needs won’t suffer.”
    This is so true! I think part of the reason may be because the cultures are already laden with distrust, which makes it harder for busy managers to detect the deception & see the great employees.

    My only ‘managing’ position is a magic organization I started at Rutgers and I always make a big effort on developing a relationship with the new presidents so I can understand their needs & ambitions, and help them reach it. I understand that they’re not all majoring in ‘magic’ and have other priorities so aim to help them in any way I can. (Luckily, this year the president is also a chemistry major which I happened to major in too.)

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