I’ve read Dan Pink’s previous books, Free Agent Nation and A Whole New Mind and enjoyed them thoroughly and wrote reviews of them. Just recently I read Dan’s latest book, The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need. This book contains several important career lessons that it helps to be reminded of periodically. I liked its creative approach of using Japanese Manga comic style for a business book. It makes the lessons much more memorable and fun to read. The book has 6 lessons, namely:
1. Your plans and jobs will change, so don’t try to plan out your entire career in advance. Each position will help you learn what you’re good at which can help to direct your career. Positions will sometimes change or move away, so you shouldn’t get too attached to a pre-conceived notion of what your long term career plan must look like to be successful. Despite what your parents may have told you, there are no safe “fallback careers” anymore. Also, if a job is safe but you can’t stand it, then it is no way to spend your career.
2. Find positions that focus on your strengths and not your weaknesses. If you work in an area that requires you to do things that don’t resonate with your strengths, it will be nearly impossible to be successful. There are some good resources recommended about finding your strengths, such as the book Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham. Knowing your strengths will allow you to better choose positions where you spend more of your time doing things that you do well and enjoy.
3. Your career is not about you, but rather about what you do to help customers, clients, and co-workers to be successful. Using your strengths and enjoying your job is important, but they must be applied to helping others, not just yourself.
4. Persistence is more valuable than raw talent. Your career isn’t a sprint, but more like a marathon. You need to continue to show up, practice, and never give up.
5. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. The only people who don’t make mistakes are those who never try anything. When you do make mistakes, make sure you learn from them. If you make a really big mistake, you’ll know because it may be named after you (This has something to do with the choice of the main character’s name).
6. Leave an imprint. When you look back at your career, you’ll want to be able to know that you made a difference that mattered.
There are a lot of business/career books out there that have useful information, but you’d be hard pressed to find one that has as much great advice concentrated in as few words as this book. I was able to read the entire book during a lunch break. One of the common objections I hear from my colleagues who tell me that they don’t read business books is that they don’t have the time, but that excuse won’t work for this one.
This may be the “last career guide that I’ll ever need,” but I’ll certainly look forward to any future writing Dan Pink does on the subject.