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In which Hank discusses how to get a job promotion, how to find a better job, and why passion isn't always enough for success.

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Created by:
Emma Mills & Mike Martin

Written and hosted by:
Hank Green

Edited by:
Hank Green & T. Michael (Mike) Martin
(Mike is also a Young Adult novelist. His book, THE END GAMES, is available at all online booksellers, including Amazon:

Executive Producers:
Hank & John Green


Hank: Hoo!  Surprise, surprise, I'm not Mike.  Or Emma.  What am I doing here?  I am Hank.  I own a small business, at which I hire, and sometimes fire, and often promote people.  And I thought that I would thus take that opportunity to talk to you about how to get promoted.  Specifically how to get promoted if you happen to work for me.  Hopefully it will be more broadly useful than that, but what I will say is that we run a fairly odd business, so bear that in mind, things might be different at your company.

 Tip #1 (0:42)

Tip #1: Understand your boss's goals, or your companies goals or whoever supervises you. Don't just understand what they've asked you to do. Understand why they're doing the things they do. Why does the company exist? What do they want? Does your boss want to get their own promotion? Does your boss want lots of money and power? Does your boss want to crush the competition, or does your boss want to make the world a better place?

Example: At my company we have video editors. Their job is to edit videos. But my goal isn't to have a bunch of videos that gets edited. My goal is to make content that gets lots of views and makes people better people. To do that, we have to make great content that people want to share with their friends at a low cost, so that we're actually able to pay for it without sacrificing the quality of the content.

As the person who runs the company I have internalized those goals because that's the thing I know I need to do in order to keep the business alive. But someone who works for me doesn't have to internalize those goals, they can just make good content. But if they do internalize those goals, then it affects every decision they make. It affects every idea they have.

 Tip #2 (1:43)

This brings me to my second tip, which is care. Okay, passion isn't some magical, mysterious thing that you have within your heart that you're born with pointing in only one direction. You can, and probably have to, at some point in your life direct your passion. You have to decide to be passionate about something. It's hard, but it's necessary.

If you want to get promoted you have to direct your passion at the goals of your boss and company. It helps if you just let it sort of take over your life a little bit, like understand and dissect the details of what your company or your boss wants the way that Emma understands and dissects the details of Sherlock.

If you're just doing this so you can make more money, you're gonna burn out. You have to actually be passionate about this.

So those two things are basically step one in the process of how to get promoted, which is how to be really good at your job. Understand it, be passionate about it. That will guarantee you your position, it will guarantee you regular raises so that you don't leave the company, but it will not necessarily get you promoted.

 Tip #3 (2:45)

Promotion is a whole new job, usually one where you're supervising people and making sure that they are good at their jobs just the way that you were good at your job. You gotta be good at people. God knows this isn't easy, and it's not taught in school, and I basically pretended to do it for two years before I even started to figure out a little bit of what the balls I was doing.

But here's what I learned and this is going to be very vague. Just like doing great work is about understanding the goals of your boss or your company, being a great manager is about understanding the goals of the people who work for you, and helping them accomplish those goals. This has got to be a two-way street. Everybody works for everybody else.

 Tip #4 (3:24)

Unfortunately, it won't matter if you're the best worker in the world and all the people you work with respect you and want to work for you if no one notices. So yes, bring ideas to your boss, show them that you love your job and maybe even flatter them a little bit, but not just because you want to flatter them. When it's appropriate, when you feel like your boss has something really cool, let them know that you think that. And don't do it more than twice a month or so, because you can't brown-nose your way to the top. It just doesn't work.

 Tip #5 (3:47)

Now, second last tip here, oddly enough, if you are too good at your job, sometimes it can be a little bit difficult for you to get promoted out of it, because there's no one to fill your shoes.

And some people actually try to make themselves so indispensable at their jobs to protect their jobs that they end up never being able to be promoted.

Don't do that, you don't want to be indispensable. Your boss doesn't want that. So look around at the world inside your company and outside and see who's there that might fill your shoes if you were to get promoted.

 Tip#5 1/2 (4:16)

Looking around, doing that, even starting to train people to do some of the things that you do, that's seen as good leadership. That's also seen as confidence and security, which everyone respects. If you're confident and secure in your own abilities as a worker then people will notice, and you will be rewarded for it.

 Tip #6 (4:31)

And finally, my last tip. If you're in a company that isn't growing, and you're basically waiting around for the person above you to die, you might want to be looking at a different company or different industry to be working in. This isn't craziness, you don't have to quit or anything, but you can take what you have gained from that company and move somewhere where there is more room for upward mobility. 

 Conclusion (4:51)

Those places do exist and they are looking for good people to work with them. Promise. John I will see you on Tuesda-- no, not this show. Andy catchphrase! Bye!

And then Emma and Mike and I are just sitting here and talk about thing. When was your first promotion? Oh, I got promoted when I worked at Walmart, actually. I got promoted from stalk man, which was the guy who got the carts I don't know why that was called a stalk man, and then I was the assistant manager for the sports department, I think?

And at the end of that year - this is a true story - I had put my two weeks notice in like a week and a half ago and my manager called me in and he was like, Hank I just heard that you were leaving! And I was like, well that's funny because I put my two weeks notice in a week and a half ago and he said, well no I think you have a future here! And I was like, I think instead I'm gonna go to college. Instead. Since I can do that. I think I'd probably have more of a future... with a college degree... instead of dropping out to work at Walmart.

Joel was his name. Glad I didn't take Joel's advice.