Politics and Business

How Howard Fensterman and Other Successful Professionals Got Where They Are

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Howard Fensterman is, by pretty much every measure you can think of, a successful guy. He became an attorney, built a successful practice in the New York area, and made enough money to become a prominent philanthropist. That’s enough success for a few lifetimes, and Howard Fensterman is still going strong.

So when someone him gives advice, you listen. The same is true for the other successful people who we talked to and studied as we put together this article. The result is below: A recap of fundamental tips that can help just about anyone improve their career and their life.

Always aim to improve

You’ll face a few obvious junctures at which you’ll want to focus on learning and making yourself more qualified for your career. Howard Fensterman went to law school, of course. Doctors go to medical school. Business professionals go get MBAs. You get the drill.

But these aren’t the only times you should be learning and improving. If you want to rise above the competition, you need to be constantly honing your skills. And if you can find ways to do this while on the clock, you’ll really maximize your potential.

If you can take on new responsibilities at work that require you to learn and use new skills, for instance, you’ll be impressing your employers while also getting some on-the-job training for free. Not a bad deal — especially when your new skills net you a new, better, and higher-paying gig.

Dress for success

Does what you wear to work matter? It’s easy to dismiss advice like “dress for success” as the sort of thing your grandfather might say. After all, Silicon Valley billionaires are overseeing massive corporations in T-shirts. Does anyone really care how we dress anymore?

Here’s the thing: Dressing “for success” or “for the job you want” has only gotten more complicated over the years. Suits and ties may have been less comfortable than T-shirts, but they were also less complicated. Looking sharp and professional at work is a tricky dance now.

If you don’t work in an office where suits and ties are normal, you shouldn’t wear a suit and tie. But what you should do is make sure you’re never the worst-dressed person in the office — and you should remember that even the most casual clothes can look sharp if you get the best quality goods and put some thought into your outfit.

Modern business attire for women and men can mean all sorts of things, but you always want to look good. Even if your office has a casual dress code, it’s still important to look your best. Studies show that what you wear makes an impact on the people you meet, so it’s up to you to ensure that it’s a positive impression.

Really mean it

Your sharp dressing and great skill set are going to open doors for you. But when you walk through those doors, you’ll always find people there — people who can make or break your career.

Networking is a huge part of succeeding in virtually every line of work. But many people are uncomfortable with networking, and it’s easy to see why. When everyone seems to want something from you (or vice versa), it’s hard to make a real connection.

Within this discomfort, though, lies the real key to networking. You have to be genuine. Don’t go into every networking opportunity with a goal in mind; just get to know people who have been where you want to be or peers who share your experiences. Maybe these will become friendships, and maybe that will help your career; but when you shake someone’s hand for the first time, try to banish what you want from your mind and make sure that you’re being friendly, authentic, and — as much as possible — unselfish. Think about ways to help the other person, rather than ways that person can help you. In the end, people will recognize that you’re genuine.

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