Navigating your career path can be an arduous task. For people of color and other disadvantaged communities, that process can be even more difficult, with factors such as discrimination, lack of representation and burnout at play.
Dave Liu, an entrepreneur and 30-year Wall Street and Silicon Valley veteran, has faced many of these obstacles during his financial career.
“I saw decent representation at the mid-level, but none at the director level. And it really had a huge impact on me because I wanted to be successful,” Liu shared with CNBC Make It. “I wanted to get up, but when I looked around, they were all white guys. And it made me realize that if I didn’t learn how to break through the bamboo ceiling and hack into the system, I was going to be stuck at the middle management level.”
Using the tips and tricks he learned throughout his career, Liu says he has managed to raise more than $15 billion dollars for hundreds of companies and start successful businesses of his own in fields such as commerce, entertainment and artificial intelligence. .
In 2021, the Harvard MBA used his career tricks to write his book “The Way of the Wall Street Warrior: Conquer the Corporate Game Using Tips, Tricks, and Smartcuts.”
Here are two of the “smartcuts” that Liu finds most valuable:
Be a stork, not a pigeon
Liu is a big fan of analogies and the one he thinks is the most profound was inspired by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen.
Liu shares that in Andersen’s stories, storks are known to “take babies from the lake and deliver them to expectant mothers.” In contrast, pigeons are known for flying in, “fluttering” and disappearing.
“I use storks as a metaphor to always add value. So in whatever interaction you are with a colleague, boss, customer or employee, think, ‘Am I adding value to this person so that when they look back on our interaction, they’ll say, wow, that was a really good use of the time,” says Liu. “As opposed to the opposite, which is like, ‘man, I wish I could get my hour back,’ because they got nothing from your interaction.”
According to Liu, seeing yourself as a stork, not a pigeon, will help you bond in the workplace and become a valuable asset to your team. By taking the time to provide solutions to problems, summarize complex information for your boss, or move a project forward, you maximize what Liu calls your time invested.
Four keys to fulfillment
As a child, Liu says he witnessed his mother struggle to make ends meet. When he entered college, he knew he had to choose a career that would allow him to support his mother and pay off the $100,000 in school debt he had accumulated.
While he found success, Liu says he could have had a more fulfilling career had he followed the Japanese cadre, Ikigai.
According to career coaching platform BetterUp, Ikigai means ‘your reason for being’. By experimenting with careers, hobbies and interests, a person can discover the meaning and joy of his work.
When advising others, Liu tells people to ask themselves these four questions:
- What are your passion?
- What are you good at?
- What does society consider important?
- What would society pay for?
According to Liu, if you can find the intersection between the four, you’ve essentially found your life purpose.
“When I was in my early twenties, if it wasn’t just about saving from poverty and repaying debt, I would go back and tell myself to focus on those four questions and spend your early years experimenting and trying to make sense of meaning. find it in what you do. Because if you ever find it, you’ll be very, very happy.”
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