Make It Happen
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Sweat the small stuff – again

by Randall Craig on July 7, 2009

Filed in: Blog, Learning, Make It Happen Tipsheet,

Tagged as: , ,

Why do some people have tremendous career success, and others don’t? It might be convenient to point to their superior intellect, drive, positive attitude, or just plain luck – none of which you feel you have. But often their success comes from a source far more mundane: they try harder.

Whatever their unique gifts, some people just try a “hair” more than others, and they do it over the long term. And these small differences add up. A great example comes from the financial world. Imagine two people had invested $20,000, one person at 4% interest, while the other person at 4.5%. At the end of the first year the difference is negligible – just $100. But over 40 years, the length of a typical career, the difference is an astounding $20,306 – even more than the original “investment”!

Small stuff makes a difference when we invest financially, when we try harder educationally, when we do our best at work, and when we try harder in our personal relationships. While the conventional wisdom is to not sweat the small stuff, differences are made at the margins and these differences add up over time.

This week’s action item: Aiming for consistently great performance is a far better bet than gambling your efforts on the big win. Look at your schedule this week, and identify at least one or two recurring activities where you have become complacent; these are the ones that could do with a little “sweating”. You might not see your impact immediately, but over the long run, others will.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)


One Phone Call

by Randall Craig on March 25, 2008

Filed in: Blog, Career Planning, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Networking

Tagged as: , ,

If you could make one – and only one – phone call to move your career forward, who would it be to? And what would you say? If you could arrange one – and only one – meeting to move your career forward, who would you call? And what would you say?

Would the call be to your manager, explaining an interesting, but risky idea? Would the call be to a would-be mentor, asking them for career advice for the first time? Or would the call be to a senior executive at a client, looking for more business?

Would the meeting be with your product development team, to give them market feedback? Or with your family, to discuss a possible career change? Maybe the meeting would be with your manager, to solicit their support for a potential new role?

However you answer, one thing is certain: without that one phone call, meeting, email, or presentation, you will not move your career forward, let alone excel in your current role.

This week’s action item: What is preventing you from taking that first step? Often, we manufacture reasons why we can’t (or shouldn’t) do something important, yet we know that if only we did it, it would make a significant difference. Sometimes we don’t make that call because of fear, uncertainty, or personal doubt. If this is the case, attack the problem methodically:

1) Make a list of who you might call, along with the reason.

2) Rank the impact that each call can have.

3) Write out your speaking points for the highest impact call

4) Rehearse the call, either by yourself or with a friend or colleague.

5) Make the call – you’ll feel great!

Work-Life Balance postscript: If you could make one – and only one – phone call to a friend or family member, who would it be to and what would you say? Now do it…

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)


You Don’t Start a Bonfire, You Light a Spark

by Randall Craig February 27, 2007

What starts you on your path – and what prevents you from taking that first step? While there are many contributing factors, consider this concept: you don’t start a bonfire; you light a spark. Those who are so focused on lighting the bonfire often give up. The enormity of the big picture prevents us from […]

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Sweat the Small Stuff

by Randall Craig March 7, 2006

Several years ago. I decided to change my voice message to one that ended with an enthusiastic “Have a Great Day”. Soon afterward, something funny started happening. When clients and colleagues left messages, they invariably ended with “Have a Great Day” too! This got me thinking about how something as simple as a changed greeting […]

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