Steamboat speaker provides career advice

Shari Harley encourages people to be honest, seek feedback

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Learn more about Harley and The Harley Group International, including a presentation video, on the Web at www.shariharley.com. Harley said videos of her career-guiding advice also are available on YouTube.

— Shari Harley was impressed with her audience Saturday at the Steamboat Springs Community Center.

About 25 people showed up at 9:30 a.m. on a beautiful day to listen to her speak for three hours.

They were all there, awake and somewhat alert, so Harley could teach them how not to screw up their careers.

The Young Professionals Network organized the workshop, "Managing Your Reputation: What They Say When You're Not There." Harley, a consultant in professional development and career management in Denver, kept things lively with frequent asides and jokes.

But her message was serious. Harley focused on several key pieces of advice:

- You drive your career - no one else.

- Ask more and assume less. Questions are powerful.

- Dress for the job you want, not the one you have.

- Hang out with people who have what you want.

- If you want something, ask for it.

- Assume that what you say goes everywhere.

- Never write anything in an e-mail you wouldn't say aloud.

The last tip is particularly important in a small town, she noted.

It's human nature to gossip, but it can kill a career. Harley shared a story about a time when she gained a reputation as chatty at work. Her boss told her she was seen as a gossip - and therefore someone who couldn't be trusted with high-level information.

It's difficult to move up in a career if you're perceived that way. Harley encouraged people to eliminate, or at least cut back on, talking about other people when they aren't there.

She calls herself "the queen of candor," by the way.

She told the audience members to think carefully about what they want in a position.

"The key is to know, but the other thing is to be disciplined," Harley said. "You have to have the courage to say no."

Harley also encouraged people to honestly seek information. Professionals should ask for specific feedback and promise the giver that they'll say "thank you" no matter what the feedback is. That way, the person will trust you and be honest about your performance.

Information is power, Harley said: You can't fix a problem you don't know about.

"Here's my intention : that you get more power and control over every relationship in your life than you have now," Harley said.

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