AT&T’s Jennifer Van Buskirk’s Career Advice: Fight for Your Future

"One of the things I admire about UFC fighters is their dedication to their craft," writes Van Buskirk.

AT&T is No. 3 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list

(Originally published on LinkedIn)

Jennifer Van Buskirk

When I lived in Atlanta, my neighbor was former Marine and UFC athlete Brian Stann. One of the things I admire about UFC fighters is their dedication to their craft – Brian was no different. They are constantly training and learning new skills to stay sharp and maintain a competitive edge. And, while most of us don’t list “combat” as our profession – the battle to stay on top of our games is real.

Changes in our marketplace – and in society – have a profound impact on us. It may be changes in how people use technology or how we communicate – even how we stay entertained and physically fit. It could also be larger structural changes in the ecosystems in which we work. All of this impacts us the skill set we need to be valuable team members and leaders in the future.

UFC fighters begin fight preparation by studying their opponent. They watch videos, they read analysis, they learn as much as they can. This is the first step in preparing for future career success as well. Read all you can; study the industry and key players. Be proactive about learning as much as possible.

Fighters surround themselves by great coaches who push them to their limits. Now is the time to find yourself some good coaches – those who will push you outside of your comfort zone where you can grow and develop new skills.

Fighters develop a game plan, train and hone the skills they need to win the fight. With this same line of thinking, you can create a game plan for your future career. What skills do you need in order to do your dream job? Get aggressive and proactively build the skills you need to be successful. If you learn something you never use…so be it.

But, all the preparation in the world cannot account for every possible scenario. Sometimes you just have to throw out the plan and make a fast pivot to take advantage of opportunities that arise – strike for that knockout. This is ultimately where knowledge and new skills come together. Brian made many pivots in the Octagon through his fighting career. But, the most impressive one has been his pivot outside the ring – to commentator and CEO of Hire Heroes USA. Talk about building new skills!

We are in the midst of an incredible time of innovation and technology evolution. Things are moving so quickly it can be dizzying to keep up. Don’t get overwhelmed, get focused.

Keep building up your skills. Learning new things never hurt anyone – unlike my neighbor – who was a force to reckon with in the ring.

Fight for your ultimate vision of success and be sure to #PivotLikeAPro on your journey.

Jennifer Van Buskirk is President, Northeast Region, AT&T Entertainment Group

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