This article was originally published in Connect, Upwork’s magazine about the modern way of working. See the digital magazine to get inspired.
“Any successful, modern leader must constantly be optimizing themselves. Just as we would optimize the performance of a campaign, so must you optimize the performance of your career,” says Julie Haddon, SVP Global Brand & Consumer Marketing at National Football League (NFL).
Haddon earned her seat at the NFL by translating her work from one job to another over the last 20 years. This required picking up new skills and traits along the way.
The first part of her career was spent in the entertainment industry where she learned to talk in storytelling and marketing through content. The second part of her career was spent in tech companies where she learned how to speak in data and distribute content through technology.
At the NFL, she marries her accumulated right-and left-brained art and science marketing skills. Because Haddon understands how to create, distribute, and market content, she knows how to produce better content and get it in front of more targeted audiences.
The thing is, all that upskilling these last 20 years just got her into the NFL. What keeps her there is how she doesn’t stop retooling.
Know your kryptonite
“The biggest superhero power anyone can have is to know your strengths—and know your kryptonite,” says Haddon. “Just as when one ad isn’t performing better than another ad, you need to look at the data to learn why. Likewise, if someone is going for a certain role, but they keep getting shut down, they need to know where they’re falling short and what skills to learn.”
“Having that awareness isn’t just for work—it benefits every part of your life. I think knowing where you can improve isn’t a weakness, but a strength,” says Haddon.
BE A LEARN-IT-ALL
Haddon acknowledges that it can be difficult to make a change because people sometimes don’t want to admit they need to improve or feel vulnerable asking for help. But that doesn’t justify remaining stagnant.
“There’s so much content online and resources available for people to learn what they need, retool, and go for their big dreams. There’s no excuse for someone who passionately wants something and doesn’t have the obsessive drive to go after it,” says Haddon.
“Technology makes it easier for us to get a job. If there’s something you don’t know, get online and find your way into it,” she says. “It’s on us to do the work and learn. I want to hire learn-it-alls, not just know-it-alls.”
As a lifelong athlete, Haddon calls sports “the ultimate ground zero reality TV” because fans just don’t know what will happen next. Much like sports, you don’t know what will happen next in business.
With artificial intelligence (AI), automation, and digitization reshaping industries, choosing not to optimize yourself seems like a career-limiting move. Sure, reskilling takes work, but learning new skills will build up your professional reflexes. So you can deftly handle whatever’s thrown at you and continue sprinting towards your goals.
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