The Best Place to Go to Drastically Improve Your Career

In my last post, I recommend the top books I read in 2015. In it, I mention a book which I re-read, Napolean Hill’s “Master Key to Riches“. In 1908, Hill, a journalist, was given a commission to write a series of articles. The articles featured famous and successful men, including industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Those articles may hold the key to improving your career.

Andrew Carnegie believed that you could outline success in a simple formula. A formula that anyone would be able to understand and achieve. Hill pressed on. While Hill’s job was to write a series of articles, he saw a larger opportunity. Hill impressed Carnegie with his initiative and curiosity. Carnegie laid out a challenge. Interview 500 of the world’s most successful people over the course of 20 years. All of a sudden his career was based on this project of purpose.

Going the Extra Mile

If Hill had stopped when his job was complete he would have never written “Think and Grow Rich”. This book alone has sold over 70 million copies world wide. It’s no surprise that one of Hill’s Master Key to Riches Principles is “Go the Extra Mile”.

“No one is compelled to follow the habit of going the extra mile and seldom is anyone required to render more than the service that he or she is paid for. Therefore if the habit is followed, it must be done so under one’s own initiative.”

Everyone has the opportunity to go the extra mile, yet most don’t. The benefits across your life and career can be significant.

Career Advancement

“The man who does more than he is paid for will soon be paid for more than he does.”

– Napoleon Hill

The story of Charles Schwab is a great example of this. You know the name as the financial planning behemoth that now bears his name. Charles Schwab worked for Andrew Carnegie in the early 1900’s.

Due to Charles’ lack of schooling or experience, he started as an entry level worker. In a short amount of time he rose the ranks to President of Carnegie’s US Steel. According to Carnegie, Schwab made it impossible to NOT promote him, due to his “can do” attitude and his willingness to go the extra mile.

As president, Schwab was paid a hefty salary of $75,000/yr ($1.95 mil/yr today). On top of that, Carnegie gave Schwab a bonus of  $1 Million, today equal to $26 mil. Carnegie said that he gave Schwab $75,000/yr for the job he was hired to do. And the $1 Million bonus for everything else that he did.

Going the extra mile can be simple. An example he highlights is when Carnegie would ask for a pencil. Schwab would bring not just a pencil but a sharpened one.

As an employee you must identify ways that you can go the extra mile. These opportunities must then become a habit to you. When something is a habit it does not feel forced. It establishes a standard that others can follow. When you establish a duplicatable standard, you are ready to lead others. Character is what you do when no one is watching. Go the extra mile and improve your career.


A Tale of two small businesses.

Business A – This is a new business to the area in the food service industry. In about a month everyone knew the owner. Upon the second or third time meeting you he would ask your name and not forget it. It is a small gesture but makes you feel important. This store doesn’t have the best service. In fact, inside there are some flaws in engineering that cause it to be slow and hectic. The owner compensates by comping some meals, offering free coffee and soup to those on line. His work ethic is mirrored by his staff.

The customers are beyond loyal. In fact, since it has opened most people have made it there go to and forgotten the competition in the area. Going the extra mile built relationships. The good in these relationships outweigh the small issues.

Business B – Also in the service industry. The business suffers from a lack of effort. The staff isn’t personable and often times seems distracted. The owner is never around. The communication is poor and even the on sight conditions leave much to desire. Bare minimum is the norm. Due to this, minor infractions are regular discussion. Customers often discuss issues and many have even left not to return.

In a social media driven world it is more important than ever for your company to go the extra mile. It starts at the top. Owners need to create a habit of going the extra mile. They need to source leaders within their organization who can duplicate. That is the most efficient way to grow and scale. Without that the business is at risk.

The same can be said for personal relationships. Going the extra mile with your significant other should be the norm. Small things have major impact. If you can’t think of ways to to go the extra mile with your significant other, ask them. I’m sure they can think of a few.

Your Self Image

“No one ever attains very eminent success by simply doing what is required of him; it is the amount and excellence of what is over and above the required that determines the greatness of ultimate distinction.”

– Charles Francis Adams

I saved the best for last. As Hill describes it, this habit of going the extra mile is “inseparably related to the development of the first of the Twelve Riches, a ‘positive mental attitude‘. Going the extra mile builds your conviction that you are doing what is good and right. It puts you on better terms with your conscience, and it gives you faith in yourself.

Self Image is a familiar topic. In order to push yourself to go the extra mile, you should be your own best friend. You won’t always be recognized for going the extra mile. Do it anyway. You may feel like it doesn’t make a difference. Do it anyway. If you begin to get in a situation of complacency, it will take a toll on your self image. When your self image dips, so does your production. From there, your ability to attract the right career opportunities declines as well.

How Can I Go the Extra Mile?

  1. Come early and stay late. I have a friend who has been doing this since he started 3 years ago. Today he manages a team of 25. Most of them follow his example. 15 mins on either end when you DON’T have to do it will get noticed.
  2. Welcome extra work. Most people confronted with extra work are quick to complain. Take it as a compliment. Someone believes in you and your work enough to give you more responsibility. Execute it to the best of your ability. Remember, one day you will be giving someone extra work as well.
  3. Go the extra mile with others once a week. This can be as simple as once a week writing an email or text to a friend letting them know 3 reasons you admire them or 3 reasons you are grateful for them. There are so many ways to positively effect someone that do not cost a dime.
  4. Push yourself. You vs. You. Make sure you go the extra mile. Add different habits to your life to stretch yourself. It can be as simple as starting to make your bed every morning.
  5. When faced with challenges, accept them. One of my best friends recently completed a half marathon. He isn’t a runner. He didn’t have much time to prepare. When given the opportunity he jumped on it. Training was brutal, he never finished more than 8 of the required 13+ miles. When race day came he succeeded. Doesn’t matter how fast, doesn’t matter how pretty, doesn’t matter how he felt after. All that matters is that he went the extra mile (literally) for himself. Who knows what he will be able to accomplish next.
  6. Ask questions. Many people think they are going the extra mile. The decision makers at their company beg to differ. What you think is the extra mile and what really is, may be two different things. If that is the case, ask. How can I be more valuable? What are your pain points and how can I help? By asking you may realize the extra effort you were putting in was going to the wrong initiatives. Take that effort and change where you are focusing it.

The extra mile may be the only distance keeping you from further success throughout your life. Make going the extra mile a habit and let the opportunity come to you.


My name is John Zanzarella. I’m the CMO of Silverback Social and the CEO of the Westchester Digital Summit, To read more from me sign up for my newsletter or feel free to connect with me and explore how we can work together. If you like to listen, subscribe to our podcast, Remarkable You on itunes to hear more from Chris Dessi and I.

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