Picking the Right Career Move is Like Picking The Right Wave


Sitting on the beach this past spring break, I had some time to reflect on the success of my career.  The irony to this story is me having time on the beach to reflect about myself.  Like every other working parent, I have been performing in the red for as long as I can remember balancing being a successful husband, father, friend and professional.  It took the perfect combination of circumstances of time zones, vacation, jet lagged family and early morning surf lessons to find some time to reflect. In that unique moment in time, I was able to appreciate the forces at work that has led to my success.

The good news about taking spring break in Hawaii, besides it being Hawaii, is the time zone difference to mainland US.  I was able to get some customer calls completed and do a run all before my family woke up.  This allowed me to have the time to take my 10-year-old daughter to her first surf lesson at 8 am by myself.  Taking surf lessons is something she has been dreaming of doing for years.  We live in Denver and her room is designed in a “surfer girl” motif.   I was sitting on the beach watching her learn to surf when I had a moment alone and it struck me.  We are all looking for the perfect wave to surf in our careers. So I did a little research on how to surf and the similarities are remarkable to managing your career.

We are so caught up in our daily personal and professional activities that we may not realize when the perfect wave of our careers is coming to us and may not be in a position to grab it.  Finding my first “real job” out of college taught me to jump in the ocean and just go for it. I was not sure exactly what I wanted to do but I knew I wanted to work in marketing.  In 1992, the wave sets were small and few between. So you had to pay close attention to each potential job opportunity and when a good one appeared on the horizon, I learned to go for it with everything I had.  This taught me perseverance.

The tips and techniques of being a great surfer also apply to having a great career.  Here are some of the tips that I have applied:

  1. Learn to pick the right wave. I am opportunistic by nature so I am always looking to the horizon for the next big wave so I could position myself to be a part of it. Pay attention to everything around you and you will see trends in the horizon.
  2. Fine-tune your position. It is about the combination of timing and location. I have learned like many surfers that you need to know when and where to catch a wave.  If you are too early or on the fringe, then you will miss it or not be very successful.  So place yourself in industries and companies where the activity is happening.
  3. Eye your target. Stay focused. Set a goal and go for it as fast as possible.  Most of us are aware of the 1979 Harvard MBA program that highlights the importance of setting goals to the success we have in life.  In my job interview at JD Edwards, I was asked by the Executive VP of Marketing what I wanted to be doing in 5 years.  I said, “sitting in your chair.”   He smiled and later that day, I was offered the job.  Don’t be afraid of your goals.  Just remember you earn them through performance.
  4. Analyze your mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. The key is to learn from them.  There are too many famous people to quote.  The key lesson is take calculated risks.  If you don’t, someone else will.
  5. Never stop learning.  Learn as much as you can about your passions, your company and its products and services, your industry and something new.  Every year I challenge myself to learn three new things.

I now find myself on my next career wave in the ERP market working at GuidewireSI, a specialized Oracle JD Edwards implementation partner working with JDE Labs on Internet of Things, Wearable Technologies, cloud and mobile projects.  I see these waves setting up in the horizon and am positioning our company to ride them.  If you are interested in joining the team, we are hiring JD Edwards consultants with Financial, Job Cost and Distribution experience to join our team.  Send me a note at [email protected].

GuidewireSI is a leading Oracle Gold Partner technology management consulting firm, providing turnkey services associated with Oracle JD Edwards, Hyperion and Cloud software to the Natural Resources Industries and the supporting Wholesale Distribution, Manufacturing, Project and Field Services companies in the supporting supply chain.

And yes, my daughter learned to surf that morning.  She caught the first wave and about 5o more that day.  My wife and I filled our iPhones with pictures and videos that morning.  It is wonderful being a parent and see your child have a dream come true.