Managing your Career to Advance Swiftly

If you are one of many ambitious early career professionals looking for the next best thing to get ahead in your career quickly, look no further than some advice from Mike Smith, the retired founder of Ag 1 Source/Career 1 Source and current chairman of the board. Smith gives beneficial and timely advice to anyone who is looking to climb the ladder quickly. 

Clarity for Success 

Make sure you understand the goals of your position or project. Smith states, “It’s as simple as asking a supervisor “what does success look like” and plan your goals around your feedback.”  

Never be afraid to ask your supervisor or even a mentor for clarity. Most misunderstandings happen with miscommunication.  “Clarify in a non-confrontational way and you’ll be respected for asking.” 

Making Too Many Career Moves? 

There’s a common notion that those that want to get ahead need to move from position to position and company to company. Too many career changes “is rarely beneficial. The individual may be talented, but It’ll cause more questions as to your why than will be beneficial in mastering positions in one or two jobs.” 

Productivity Formula for Success 

Smith teaches all his employees the X to Y by When formula for success.  “For example, as you are working on projects or responsible for projects, think about what you started with, what you improved it to and how long did you take to achieve results. The best way to get noticed is to be productive” Smith suggests. 

Once you’ve mastered the formula and are ready to share your success with others, remember the STAR method: situation, task undertaken, specific action in that situation and the result.  That’s the best way to describe what you achieved. 

A Piece of Advice from Warren Buffet 

Smith enjoys sharing a video snippet of Billionaire Warren Buffet giving advice to young professionals. Buffet states “We look for three things when we hire people. We look for intelligence, we look for initiative or energy, and we look for integrity. And if they don’t have the latter, the first two will kill you, because if you’re going to get someone without integrity, you want them lazy and dumb rather than smart and fast.” 

Smith founded his companies based on integrity and takes Buffet’s advice to heart.  


Those that are anxious to move up in the ranks or to be promoted are obviously passionate and driven. But the one character trait that is often overlooked is initiative. “As long as they are not well overstepping their bounds, most managers admire initiative,” Smith states. Include others, create a team mentality and take on projects no one else wants.      

“The magic thing about initiative is it’s a personal choice. Quite a few others don’t have it or don’t take it and it’s a way to get ahead. Taking initiative should not be underestimated.” 

Initiative is something that you can’t put on your resume. Your future employers will hear more about it when they speak to your references. Choose your references wisely.  Choose those who have experienced projects you’ve initiated and can speak thoroughly about them. 

Make initiative a priority.