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Golden Guide Career Advice: Talk the Talk, Walk the Walk

Lydia Lazar

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Golden Tip No. 28: Be Authentic, Be a Builder, Be a Collaborator

Golden Guide Career Advice is a series from the AMA in partnership with Lydia Lazar, author of Dean Lazar’s Golden Guide: Pragmatic Career Advice for Smart Young People. A new tip in the series will be posted each Tuesday—all tips are available here.

Do you have a career question? Contact Lazar at deardeanlazar@gmail.com—the answer may appear in a future post.

Being authentic in the context of work means talking the talk and walking the walk of a builder and collaborator who respects the contributions of others. One mark of a team player is that they never take all the credit for the work of their group—they talk about our efforts and our success.

As you build your personal and professional network, be mindful of how you come across to people. You can’t control how others perceive you, so be self-aware and try to have some idea of how you present yourself.

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The advice to “be yourself” really means “be your best self,” one who can honestly project their emotions and thoughts with an authentic style that reflects their true personality and which will draw others to them.

Try to share your authentic, trustworthy self with those you meet. At the very least, you should cultivate an open, honest way of speaking one-on-one, so that even if you are not well-known to lots of people, those who do know you feel that they know and can trust the real you.

All the networking in the world will not help if the people you meet don’t like you for some reason. Now, I’m not saying that everyone you meet should fall in love with you, but I am saying that you should make an effort to be genuine and avoid coming across as someone who has a transactional approach to people. The opposite of transactional is relational—you should always approach connection with others as an opportunity to create relationships, not transactions.

Some ambitious people can seem to be careerist—that is, focused only on how others can help them. You should strive to pursue your objectives in a way that shows you understand that there is more at stake in life than your own career success. An authentic person acknowledges that they are part of a larger effort and speak with humility about their role, recognizing that they contribute to a team effort. The opportunity to continue to do so is never guaranteed.


Dean Lazar's Golden Guide

For more career tips, read Dean Lazar’s Golden Guide: Pragmatic Career Advice for Smart Young People, available on Amazon and at your local bookstore. Do you have a career question? Contact Lazar at deardeanlazar@gmail.com—the answer may appear in a future post.

Lydia Lazar is founder and president of LHL Consulting. She is the former associate dean for recruitment and career services at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, and previously, dean of international law and policy overseeing international student admissions (LLM) at Chicago-Kent College of Law.