career power
Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Unsplash

Mental Model

Our logical and moral view leads us to believe that our excellent work will speak for itself and earn us rewards accordingly. In most cases, this is an illusion. Great work is integral to realizing achievement and operating at our true potential, but it alone is insufficient. Differentiation in the “hard” measurable skills among talented people becomes gray as ubiquitous knowledge is available with a click of a button. Competition is intense, as is the ability to stand out. Like it or not, power is the invisible force that enables certain people to achieve outstanding outcomes in their field and for themselves. Shying away from developing and using power is career-limiting. Get out of your comfort zone to plan and act with power. Play or pay – it’s your choice.


Power and the means to develop it, such as through networking and marketing oneself, can often breed negative connotations. People may shy away from it and see it as inauthentic or manipulative. Can power be abused for malicious purposes? Yes, of course. But to achieve anything significant of value beyond ourselves, we need help from people to provide resources such as mentoring and introductions to other people. For customers or organizations to derive value from your talent, your message needs to reach them. Power is an asset that you cannot easily buy or obtain quickly. Weekly deposits of your time to the actions below will build and strengthen your power. Build your brand and network before you need it. 

Product Analogy

Technology products increase in value when there is connectivity. Graphs that connect people, places, and things power some of the largest, most influential companies on the planet. Memorable brands reduce buying risk and create differentiation even if there technically is none. Products that continuously innovate to the changing market remain relevant over time. The product of your mind and hands are no different.

Model Recommendations

1 – Control your mind.

Intercept and neutralize self-limiting thoughts.

Intercept the hesitation to use power – your competition is using it.

View power as an ingredient to create goodness and value for others and yourself.

Feel proud of who you are, your work, and your potential.

Believe in yourself deeply, and it will fuel a self-fulfilling prophecy.

2 – Act with boldness.

Ask for things you want with clarity – most people are happy to help.

Push yourself through the discomfort of your asks for others and the tasks you need to complete to realize your mission.

Ask for resources and what you need in your job to be successful.

Don’t be overly concerned about what people think of you – that’s out of your control.

Deliver results as your focus – it matters more than being liked or loved.

Don’t ask or wait for permission.

Bend and break the rules to create a breakthrough.

3 – Build and leverage an influential network.

Provide value to other people without expecting anything in return.

Identify the people within an organization who wield power and invest in these relationships.

Build alliances with people whose support you need to succeed – be clear about what’s in it for them. 

Work and align yourself with people who are winners or think they can win.

Invest in “weak ties” to accelerate a job search and broaden your perspectives.

Work in roles where you are in a central position of organizational collaboration – the strength and centrality of the graph matters.

Strengthen your network like a muscle with weekly exercise. 

4 – Display visual signs of power, uniqueness, and likeability.

Show up aligned with how you want to be perceived – first impressions and snap judgments endure.


Show energy.

Demonstrate competence first and warmth second when meeting someone.

Always say less than necessary.

Carry yourself confidently to achieve great things.

Dress in a way that is memorable, aligned with your brand, and different from others.

Limit your availability.

Maintain eye contact with people when speaking.

Speak in ways that are not overly scripted.

5 – Create and market a powerful and memorable brand.

Craft and internalize an inspirational identity deep into your bones.

Become an expert in your field.

Articulate a clear competitive advantage – why you?

Be clear about what you stand for and sell it with conviction.

Associate yourself with symbols of authority and prestige – a university, a company, a movement.

Market your achievements broadly to make them known and believable.

Speak confidently about your credentials, achievements, and aspirations.

Tell a short, memorable story repeatedly and with consistency. 

Rely on yourself rather than others to tell your story as you would.

Market your narrative and ideas across multiple channels to reach a massive audience.

6 – Innovate and recreate yourself in a changing environment.

Invest in skills and pathways that create options.

Secure mentors with the knowledge and connections that align with your future direction.

View challenges as a worthy opponent to demonstrate resilience and persistence.

Don’t commit to anyone.

Analyze external environments to anticipate change.

Experiment With This

  • Write a LinkedIn profile headline on how you want to be seen by others. Do you describe yourself as the title of your current company? Or is the headline bold and unique identity? Position a brand that sparks curiosity and more than your current title.
  • Record a video of yourself sharing who you are, your purpose, and your direction. The adjectives you use to describe yourself are essential. Lean into the discomfort of talking about yourself. Continuous practice will make this feel natural and compelling.
  • Tell your story to leaders at your company, including who you are, where you are going, and where you need their help. You can enable this through visuals that are memorable and vivid.
  • Analyze your organization to document a stakeholder influence map of people who are essential to your success.


7 Rules of Power: Surprising–but True–Advice on How to Get Things Done and Advance Your Career – by Jeffrey Pfeffer

Pfeffer on Power podcast – Accelerating Your Career with Jeffrey Pfeffer, Ph.D.

The 48 Laws of Power – by Robert Greene

Your body language may shape who you are – Amy Cuddy on TED

Influence, New and Expanded: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D.

Unreasonable Success and How to Achieve It: Unlocking the 9 Secrets of People Who Changed the World by Richard Koch (Chapter on Self-Belief)

Never Eat Alone, Expanded and Updated: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by Keith Ferrazzi

Entrepreneurial You: Monetize Your Expertise, Create Multiple Income Streams, and Thrive by Dorie Clark

Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It by Dorie Clark

How to Promote Yourself Without Looking Like a Jerk by Dorie Clark (Harvard Business Review)

Unless You’re Oprah, ‘Be Yourself’ Is Terrible Advice by Adam Grant