What You Should Never Compromise On While Building Your Career

Kathy Caprino

As a career coach to mid- and senior-level professionals, and in my former work as a therapist, I’ve come into contact with thousands of questions, concerns, mistakes and crossroads that emerge in people’s personal and professional lives.  Observing the long arc of many careers, I’ve noticed that the worst missteps – the ones that make us feel deep pain, regret, sorrow and remorse – are mistakes reflecting what people have chosen to compromise on or to give up in order to be “successful.”  These compromises don’t feel like “choices” at the time, but they are, and they lead to common crises and challenges that are disastrous for the individual.

Below are the top five things you should never compromise on while building your career (or you’ll regret it deeply):

Your Standards of Integrity

I view “standards of integrity” as core principles and values that guide our behavior.  Integrity is a choice, and while it is influenced by a myriad of factors (your culture, upbringing, peer influences, etc.), it can’t be forced.  (If it is, you have played a part in that.)  One who has strong and well-defined standards of integrity behaves with wholeness, integration, honesty, and does right by himself/herself and by others.  Standards of integrity involve values and virtues such as honesty, kindness, trust, wisdom, loyalty, transparency, objectivity, acceptance, openness, empathy, and graciousness. Continue reading “What You Should Never Compromise On While Building Your Career”


A little Bit of Bragging Can Pay Off, Researchers Say

Do you know of a guy who blows his own horn so much that you just wish he was not going to show up at the party or group meeting? Sometimes we call them obnoxious, self-seeking or self-absorbed or narcissist.

Researchers says narcissists or self-absorbed individuals do well at job interviews

Well according to a study to be published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, this trait which is considered unbearable in most circumstances, actually pays off a great deal in the immediate perspective of a job interview.

The researchers found that self-absorbed individuals or narcissists scored much higher in simulated job interviews than non-narcissists. They pointed to narcissists’ innate tendency to promote themselves, in part by engaging and speaking at length, which implied confidence and expertise even when they were held to account by expert interviewers.

If you were brought up with the theory that humility is a virtue, that theory is still valid today, so hold on to it. Nevertheless, learning how to talk with confidence about what you’ve accomplished and how you did it is admirable and is not considered pride. In fact, you’re expected to know how to do that if you want to stay competitive in today’s job market and economy. Continue reading “A little Bit of Bragging Can Pay Off, Researchers Say”


Little Stuff That Closes Deals

Business Etiquette is More than Eating with the Right Fork

In the previous article, I discussed some little things that are often overlooked but are essential in making deals and are fundamental in career development and progression in the business world. I mentioned that even small and insignificant actions can remarkably influence the overall perception of an individual, and perception is, in most cases, a reality, unfortunately. I emphasized that attention to little stuff and nuances play essential roles in maintaining any business relationships in the long term. Today’s post is a continuation of last week’s discussion. Continue reading “Little Stuff That Closes Deals”


Little Things Matter, a Whole Lot

Actions, even small and insignificant ones, can remarkably influence the overall perception of an individual. When we talk about nuances, we’re talking about the clues that shed light on the greater self. They show how a person takes time; makes time; makes the effort to execute countless details.

Consider two self-employed businessmen, Adbul and Sonko, who were both vying for a grant from an angel investor from the U.S., Mr. Martin Smith. Each of them scheduled a lunch date with Martin Smith to discuss his business plan.

On the appointment day, Sonko dressed for the lunch in bleached style jeans with a polo T-shirt. After ‘brainstorming’ in the presence of Mr. Smith, they decided on which restaurant they wanted to go to. After they sat down, Sonko, right away launched and kept the conversation focused on the purpose for which they had met. He spent the entire lunch time talking about his business mission, vision and strategy with laser focus. There wasn’t any deviation to talk about anything personal.

Abdul on the other hand dressed a little above his potential client. He put on a jacket. He wanted to establish trust. He didn’t want to assume anything. Before the meeting, Abdul had called Mr. Smith’s personal secretary to inquire about Continue reading “Little Things Matter, a Whole Lot”


Surviving as an International student: Friendship and Dating

This is Part 3 of our series ‘Surviving as an International Student’. Today, we cover Friendship and Dating. We hope that African students studying abroad and those contemplating doing so may find these materials useful

Your first weeks as an international student will be ones of adjustment and you may experience culture shock.

The people you pass may smile, say, “Hello, how are you?” and keep walking past you. People might not know where your country is located. What have you gotten yourself into?
You may have to weave yourself into the society as soon as you can in order to enjoy your life. You may encounter difficulties in several areas and the extent will depend on whether you’re single or married: In Part 3 of the series Surving as an International Student, we will discuss Friendship and Dating
Friendship: Most people you will come in contact with will be friendly, however international students often remark that while Westerners are “polite”, they can appear to be distant or cold. The best way to strike up a conversation is to talk about the weather since it is seen as an important aspect of the society. This probably sounds strange, but the longer you’re here, the more sense it will make.
Dating: Dating is developing a romantic relationship with someone. Dating is common among students; however, no one can force you to date or go out with him/her against your will. Also, going on a date does not mean consenting to have sex; it just means that you are interested in spending time with the person. Friendships between people of the opposite-sex are common and are not necessarily dating and it is important to respect this boundary where it exists. Rather than assume that you are in a relationship or that one has consented to an act, always ask questions for clarifications. Be also aware that NO means NO. If someone is not interested in having a sexual relationship with you, pursuing it could have serious legal consequences such as sexual harassment or assault charges.
Traditionally men have taken the initiative in asking women on dates, but this is changing as women are asserting their equal status in society. Common dating events include dinners, concerts, movies, and plays. If you want to know someone better, you might ask the person to join you for coffee or a lunch; such meetings can provide the beginning of an enduring friendship without the pressure of being a “date.” It used to be the practice that the one who invited a person on a date would pay for any expenses incurred (such as the dinner check or the ticket price). It is becoming more common for people on a date to “go Dutch,” which means that each person pays for his or her own expenses.
In some cultures, if a woman agrees to spend an evening with a man, it is assumed automatically that ‘it will happen’. In the West, making this assumption and following it up with some premature actions can bring your academic career to a miserable end. You may even have to do some time in jail.
As far as dating and romantic relationships are concerned, if in doubt, the first thing to do is to Ask, the second thing to do is to Ask, and the third again is just Ask.

Enjoy your studies

(These are materials extracted from several student bulletins and academic sources mixed with my personal thoughts. If you would like to continue to the series ‘Surviving as an International Student’, please email info@talkafrique.com)