At its core, The Fit Careerist is about discovering how to be successful in life.
And so although this is a deeply personal post and different from the type of content I usually write, I believe it is the most important one yet.
It’s only within the past couple of years that I have experienced a pull to start my own business. But I have been determined to build a successful career for myself ever since I graduated from college.
I credit a lot of this drive and confidence to my father, John Alexander. Without his loving influence, encouragement, and wisdom, I know I would not be where I am today. I certainly doubt I would have developed the courage to become a manager or start my own side-business.
On Monday, September 10th, 2018, my Dad passed away, just shy of two weeks ago at the time of this writing.
To say the loss has hit me hard would be an understatement. It has been really tough for the whole family.
But it’s also affected many more people than I would have ever realized; there are so many people who had met and befriended my Dad through his work that have reached out since his passing.
My Dad was a true pioneer in Search Engine Optimization and digital marketing. He was doing keyword research and helping people get found on the web before most people even knew what Google was. (Or even what “SEO” was – in those days it was referred to as “web positioning”.) He founded the Search Engine Academy with his business partner, and since then his strategies have been taught in over 80 countries worldwide.
But more than that, he knew that true success in life wasn’t about money, but about something more much more important.
In honour of my Dad and the inspiring life he lived, I would like to impart some of the wisdom I have learned from him over the years about how to be successful, and what success really means. Some advice offers strategies on how to make your mark in this world, while other points provide perspective on what’s truly important:
My Dad spent the first half of his career climbing the corporate ladder at Superior Propane. He started off refurbishing propane cylinders and worked his way up to a management role at the corporate office. He taught me that the key to getting noticed at work was to go above and beyond. For example, once he finished his assigned work, he proactively looked for the next thing that needed to be done and completed it without being asked.
And as a business owner, my Dad would often under-promise what he could do for his clients- and then blow them away by over-delivering.
He always went above and beyond for the people in his life, regardless of whether they were clients, colleagues, friends, or family.
It seems so simple and yet this is such an effective strategy; there is no better demonstration of your commitment than to do more than what is expected.
Inspire and Encourage
One of the greatest things about my Dad was that he truly cared about and believed in other people. The fatherly wisdom and guidance I benefited from as his daughter also carried over into his professional life, and it’s a big reason why he was such a great educator. In the workshops he ran, he would always take the time to make sure everyone understood the lessons and were able to apply them to their individual businesses.
Not only did he help his students build their businesses through search engine optimization, but he also made many life-long friends from those 5-day workshops and continued to offer them support and encouragement. My Dad showed the same enthusiasm and pride for his students’ accomplishments as he did for my own.
Even when he could no longer travel to teach, he continued to spread encouragement and positivity through social media. His Facebook profile is an archive of uplifting quotes, thoughts, lessons, and messages. (A small handful of which I have featured throughout this post.)
My Dad worked at Superior Propane for 24 years before he was ultimately let go due to the company’s relocation to Calgary. He decided to go into business for himself and purchased a franchise for designing websites.
But he learned very quickly that it wasn’t enough to build websites for his clients. They needed their websites to be found by potential customers.
These days you can Google “SEO training” and come up with a plethora of courses and training programs. But in the 90s, Dad needed to use his own creativity and curiosity to forge through the wilderness of the early internet.
Keyword research, in particular, required a fair amount of creativity and lateral thinking. Search-behavior research and crafting optimal keywords for his clients became his specialty.
In other words, creativity isn’t just for making art! Creative thinking can be the key to troubleshooting problems in business.
Both of my parents have always been very strong in their faith in God. His faith helped keep him focused on what really mattered and stay positive, even when the going got rough.
I do truly believe that if you feel the passion to achieve something, there’s a reason that desire is there. It’s that kind of faith that keeps you going, especially when you feel like giving up.
One of the most important things I ever learned from my Dad was to be authentic. Everyone can see through a phony or sales-y act. More importantly, you can’t really help others or experience real joy without being your authentic self. This was something I learned simply from observing my Dad. (Both my parents are the most genuine people I’ve ever met!)
But he also taught me not to be limited by what other people may think. You can’t please everyone, but by being genuine you will please the people who matter.
The Definition of Success
Helping others was my Dad’s primary mission. It was his very definition of success.
As he once suggested in his own words:
“Stop making money the thing that drives or motivates you. A business must make money and a profit to keep going. It is true that business is about making money. But if you believe in God then life is really all about helping people. Help enough people and you will never need to worry about failing.”
These wise words couldn’t come at a better time for me, as I begin to navigate my way through a world without my Dad in it. He was my biggest fan and I know he would want me to forge ahead.
And so forge ahead I will; as I continue to learn how to be successful in life, I will strive to become the best I can be, and serve those I can help.