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Achieve True Success! – Hint Founder & CEO Kara Goldin

Originally written by hint founder & CEO, Kara Goldin, and posted in LinkedIn Pulse here.

When I meet people, they often end up asking me for advice. Sometimes I get this question from students, other times it’s from young people starting out in their careers. They ask me, “If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?” And that brings back a flood of memories and all the hard-earned life lessons I’ve learned.

My first job was at Time, Inc., a division of Time Warner. I was an executive assistant, but I knew I had an opportunity to do so much more. (And I did.) So many people were just clock punching it, working 9 to 5. Since I knew my boss’s schedule, I made sure that I arrived before her every day and did not leave the office until after she had gone home. I gladly took on new responsibilities, and eventually I was doing much more than my original job description. Today, as the CEO of Hint water (drinkhint.com), I’m still learning and growing every day.

Here’s what I always tell people to achieve true success: Embrace your newbie role, dive in wholeheartedly and follow these tips to help you find your way…

Dream big. Stop worrying about how you stack up to others in terms of education or connections, and just focus on getting stuff done. Whenever you feel lost or like you’re “faking it” in a meeting, remember this: If you don’t understand what someone is saying, it’s probably not over your head. Usually what’s going on is an initiative is overly complicated—and it probably won’t work.

Be nice to everyone. Relationships are important at all levels. Most people go into their first job kissing up to their boss. But they forget that other people are observing your behavior, too. Your boss’s friends are taking notice, as are your co-workers, and the assistants and interns who you might have to manage. It’s important to treat everyone with respect, since the people around you can help you advance at your company and get you jobs elsewhere. I find that people remember when people treat them kindly—or when people treat them badly. Make sure you’re in the first category.

Prove your worth daily. Even though you have been given a certain job, you still have to show your employer that they made the right decision in hiring you. Let your employer know that you appreciate every opportunity and do more than they expect. Be organized and always over-deliver on projects.

Do what you love. Or at least, be working towards that goal. Ask yourself questions. Do you like sales? Writing? Figuring out logistics? Even though it’s daunting, you can pinpoint your passions even at a young age. One exercise I find useful is to write down what the perfect day would be for you. Take a look at what you imagined–hosting a dinner party, spending time in nature, exercising—since it will clue you in on what you truly value. And there is a way to translate that into a career. As Gary Vaynerchuk, one of my favorite social media entrepreneurs likes to say, “You didn’t grow up driving. You figured it out.”

Go with your gut. Author Seth Godin sums it up perfectly: “Quit the wrong stuff. Stick with the right stuff. Have the guts to do one or the other.” Life is not about gutting out every situation and forcing it to fit your pre-planned ideal vision. It’s about identifying opportunity—or lack thereof. If your pride is all that is standing in the way of quitting a job that makes you miserable, I suggest you push your ego aside and quit. After all, the right people won’t care and the wrong people don’t matter.