Career Advice from the CMO of Morgan Stanley
10 Principles of Success
Mandell L. Crawley, EMBA ’09
Managing Director, Chief Marketing Officer
Throughout my career, I have had incredible mentors, and I have been fortunate enough to serve as mentor to some amazing talent myself. I have observed common themes that thread through the journey of professional success. I have great conviction in the following 10 fundamental principles to ensuring long-term career success:
1. Own your experience. No one will care about your success, development, and achievement more than you. Be strategic and proactive in networking, keeping your skills fresh and relevant, and finding ways to add value to your organization. The heavy lifting that will push your agenda forward has to be done by you; it should never be left to someone else.
2. What’s your alpha? Among an educated, highly capable workforce, find what makes your abilities, talent, and skillset unique and accretive to your organization. Beyond just knowing your value proposition, find what makes you stand out among the tremendous talent that surrounds you. Being smart isn’t enough. A lot of people are smart. What do you bring to an organization that will make the extra difference?
3. Invest in manifesting your natural ability. In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell references in the concept that truly mastering a skill takes approximately 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. While he has gone on to say that the concept of deliberate practice leads results in varying degrees of success depending on the domain in which it is applied, the point of consistently dedicating time to develop yourself is a general rule to which we can all ascribe. Natural talent can only take you so far in your career. As I said, a lot of people are smart. To keep yourself competitive, establish a habit of investing time into refining and evolving your abilities.
4. Pick your pain threshold: ounces versus tons. The sacrifice required to deliver quality is far less painful than regretting an outcome knowing you could have done better. Decide for yourself and pick your threshold. Commit to the task at hand and do your best in every situation, so you never look back with regret.
5. Networking (noun): It’s important to understand the difference between networking, the verb, and networking, the noun. Networking, the activity, can feel like being on a rocking horse: There is movement, but you aren’t moving forward. Networking, the strategy for your career growth, can move you forward. As a strategy, it requires proactively reaching out, putting yourself in front of the right people, and asking for the things you need from your support system and your champions that will take you to the next level.
6. Energy and enthusiasm. People respond to energy—not in the sense of frenetic activity, but as a positive disposition and enthusiasm for your work. Even during challenging periods, don’t just stay committed, but do so with a positive attitude.
7. Significant reserve of resilience: Career success is not the romanticized fantasy of a steady, upward trajectory. Along your professional journey, there will be disruptions, pit stops, detours, and times of adversity. It is critical to have excess capacity to manage frustration and disappointment along the way.
8. Be a great partner. Successful people are often competitive. When you are working as part of an organization, however, success is not merely getting ahead by looking out for yourself, but rather actively ensuring you are setting your colleagues, partners, teams, and management up for success. This is integral to building and reinforcing your brand. Enabling the success of others will help you to reach that next promotion, greater responsibility, or new role—or simply develop general fortitude.
9. Protect your brand. Social bonding and casual networking are critical to forging genuine relationships with your colleagues, teams, and management. But don’t lose sight that your behavior outside the office can easily follow you back into it. Let your actions when not at work be guided by protecting your good name as a professional. This self-preservation is different than not being your genuine self, and the difference should be clear. Balance the two and let the best parts of you shine.
10. Board the rocket ship. Sheryl Sandberg recounts how, when she was first considering offers after business school, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt gave her the advice of securing a seat on a “rocket ship” in terms of her job search. Align yourself with industries, companies, and business units within your firm that are in growth mode. A growing organization can offer opportunities to work across teams, stretch your abilities, and showcase your talents in ways you may not be able to see at the outset.
Achieving professional success can feel fleeting and tenuous even when you find it. To reap the satisfaction and validation you are chasing, I encourage you to view your career not as a separate project on which you spend a large portion of your life, but a manifestation of your interests, energy, and ambition. Excelsior!
Mandell L. Crawley joined Morgan Stanley in October 1992 as a high school intern and now serves as the firm’s chief marketing officer. He has overall responsibility for defining, creating, and delivering Morgan Stanley’s marketing strategy, including shaping and enhancing the company’s brand value and ensuring the global integration and consistency of marketing strategy across businesses, functions, and geographies to deliver growth and value. His prior roles at the firm include head of national business development and talent management for Morgan Stanley Wealth Management and head of U.S. fixed income sales and distribution for Morgan Stanley Wealth Management’s Capital Markets Group.
Crawley received an MBA with honors from Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business and a BA in economics from Northeastern Illinois University in his hometown of Chicago. In addition to his membership on Morgan Stanley committees—the firm’s Management Committee, Global Wealth Management Operating Committee, and Multicultural Client Strategy Committee—Crawley is an advisory council board member for the Stanford University Center on Longevity, a national trustee of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and a board member of Covenant House New York, an organization devoted to solving the problem of homelessness among young people. He resides in Westchester County, New York, with his wife Alison, and twin daughters, Jordyn and Jaedyn.