If you’re looking for career advice, there are few better people to ask than former President Barack Obama. After all, he got the most prestigious job in the world after only spending four years in the U.S. Senate and seven in the Illinois State Senate.
Obama clearly knows how to work his way up in the world.
Now, he’s investigating what it means to have “good” work in his new Netflix show, “Working: What We Do All Day.” According to Netflix, the show explores compelling ideas and issues about labor and work, while focusing on the lives of individuals in various professions.
Obama sat down with LinkedIn Editor-in-Chief Daniel Roth to talk about employment-related topics, including the role of work in our lives, disruptions in the workplace in the new Millenium, and the coming AI revolution. During the 15-minute conversation, Obama shared his most important career advice for young people, and it was simple, especially for such a thoughtful, well-spoken man. The former president said, “Get stuff done. Just learn how to get stuff done.”
He then unpacked what he meant by his simple motto.
“I've seen at every level people who are very good at describing problems, people who are very sophisticated in explaining why something went wrong or why something can't get fixed, but what I'm always looking for is, no matter how small the problem or how big it is, somebody who says, 'Let me take care of that,'” Obama said. “If you project an attitude of, whatever it is that's needed, I can handle it and I can do it, then whoever is running that organization will notice. I promise.”
Obama is spot-on with his analysis. You can talk about things all day, but what really matters is taking action and making things happen. Maybe that’s why his campaign slogan in 2008 was a simple three-word phrase about taking care of business, “Yes, we can.”
"The best way to get attention is, whatever is assigned to you, you are just nailing. You're killing it. Because people will notice, that's someone who can get something done," Obama continued.
As someone who has managed people at the top levels of government, Obama has a rare understanding of the importance of relying on people to carry out essential orders and knowing who to trust to get it done efficiently and correctly. When you’re president of the United States, you must have complete trust in the people you delegate work to because thousands or even millions of lives could be at risk.
Obama also added that young people shouldn’t focus on a specific job title but on things that interest them. "The people that I find are the most successful are the people who say, 'I'm really interested in computers and figuring this stuff out,' and they end up being a Bill Gates," he said.
People will be happier with careers that are rooted in their interests because they’re doing what they love. We only get 24 hours in a day. Most people sleep eight, work eight and enjoy eight for themselves. Everyone loves sleeping and time off, but you can be happy 24 hours a day when you love your job.