How To Get Ahead With Work

I used to hate my boss. I’m sure many of you know the feeling. What you probably didn’t realize is that it could be holding you back from incredible success and wealth.

After spending nearly two decades meeting thousands of the most successful people on the planet, I soon discovered that having the “right” boss can allow you to achieve much more than may be possible on your own.

When I first started working, I followed my father’s advice, “Do what you love.” For me that was investing, which I pursued with a passion. When I graduated I landed a job with one of the top fund managers in the country and couldn’t be happier. Over the next eight years at that firm I progressed to become one of the top investors in my field, but I wasn’t happy. What I wished my father had told me all those years ago was, “Do what you love, for a boss you love working for.”

You see, the problem was even though I was a well-respected investor, my boss didn’t value me or trust me. I had always thought my results would speak for themselves in a field as objective as investing, where your returns are clear for all to see, but it turns out there is more truth to the saying “It’s who you know, not what you know” than I would like to have believed. Having strong networks is only half the equation though, as they need to be “right” boss or partner. As my career mentor, who I describe as “the smartest man in Asia”, once told me, “People want to do business with people they like and trust.” It’s not enough to know someone, you need to have a trusting relationship to form a strong partnership.

Eight years after I started my first job, I had my first big breakthrough success. A company I invested in at an early stage became a billion dollar company. I thought I had made it. That single investment made over $100 million for my company and I thought at the end of the year I would be well rewarded given it was my deal. How disappointed I was when my boss was given a $2 million bonus and I only received $100,000. Not that it wasn’t a lot of money, but given my boss had tried to block the deal on a number of occasions, it just didn’t seem fair. My protests to my boss over the next year for more pay or a larger bonus fell on deaf ears.

My boss thought I was just lucky and I was clearly taking too much risk to be able to generate those kinds of returns. I disagreed, but ended up after that with a smaller portfolio and less responsibility, contrary to what I thought would have happened, given I was now the investor with the strongest returns in the whole company. By the time I had achieved my second billion dollar investment two years later, I finally made the best career decision in my life – finding a boss who shared my vision and who valued, trusted and respected me. I was finally with the “right” boss and over the next decade we made many prominent and success investments, generating significant wealth for both of us. I no longer dreaded going to the office each day and had a spring in my step once more.

So how can you make sure you are with the “right” boss? I have developed the Inside-out Personal Growth Tool to provide a structured approach to this, starting with an assessment of yourself (the “Inside” part), which then broadens to an assessment of your direct manager or your business partner, followed by your broader environment (the “Outside” parts). This strategy is about borrowing other people’s strengths so you don’t have to address your own weaknesses.

The tool follows three steps:

Step 1. Assess Yourself: Write out your career goals and then list all your strengths, without worrying about listing your weaknesses. Once you have a complete list, prioritize the strengths, with your strongest at the top of the list. We will use this list later on to compare with your boss or partner in Step 2 to see how complementary your strengths and their weaknesses are against each other.

Step 2. Assess Your Partner: Firstly, list what you believe are their career goals. Next, instead of listing the strengths of your partner, list their weaknesses. In assessing your partner, there are four key questions to which you must answer yes in order to have the right ingredients in forming a successful partnership:

1. Do you have aligned goals?

2. Are your strengths and their weaknesses complementary?

3. Are you following a star?

4. Do you have a strong relationship?

Step 3. Assess Your Environment: The final step involves broadening the assessment in Step 2 beyond your direct manager or business partner to the wider group of individuals you could work with. If your current business partner or manager is the most complementary to you and you are happy with your role, you may want to stay put. If you are unhappy with your current situation, it may be time to start investing in building on other relationships where there may be a better fit.

Having the “right” boss will make work more enjoyable and give you the best chance of achieving success in your career. It’s never too late to find a boss or business partner who truly respects and values you.