How to Achieve Success at Work, Part I

Ask for the toughest jobs.

Posted Sep 03, 2013

A 3 desk

A Typical 3-Achiever’s Desk (from “The Career Within You”)

“Right from that first job, I knew that someday I wanted my own agency. Every job I had after that, I gleaned the information I wanted, thinking: ‘I'm going to do that. I'm not going to do that.’” This man, Paul Venables, sounds like a 3-Achiever in the Enneagram system of personalities. He advocates watching how people you want to emulate do what they do, and he spreads good work values among his employees.

3-Achievers work hard, want to rise to the top, and like to perform, whether it’s in show business or accomplishing another kind of goal. Being the head of an advertising agency fits a 3, since Achievers are good at spotting what other people like and incorporating that into what they do. Famous 3’s Bill Clinton, Madonna, and Anthony Robbins do this well too. Some 3’s have the persona of the American girl or boy next door: Tom Cruise, Diane Sawyer, Robert Wagner, Joan Lunden, and John Edwards, for example. Many are good at talking and achieving success: Johnnie Cochran, Werner Erhard, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Oprah Winfrey, for example.

“Just Starting? Always Ask for the Toughest Jobs” by Adam Bryant, features an interview with Paul Venables, founder of an advertising agency in San Francisco--from the New York Times, June 30, 


Paul Venables

Paul Venables

“…I'm six out of seven, so I had five other teachers in the house. I learned certain things from my parents but each kid had a different interest, different style, and I would learn and almost pick and choose from them—‘That looks effective,’ or ‘that's smart.’

“I went to Madison Avenue to get a job, any job, in advertising. So I pounded the pavement, and at the time, you had to type take typing tests at all the big agencies. I failed them all. Then I took a job at a small agency. They didn't require typing tests, and the job I took was receptionist. Talk about learning people skills. You interact with absolutely everybody in the building—all the clients, all the vendors. I picked people's brains about what they did and how they thought, and it was a helpful starting point…”

Q. “What career advice would you give to new college grads?”

A. “The advertising-specific one is ask for the headaches. Find something your boss is doing that he hates doing—it's difficult, painful, time-consuming—and say, ‘I'll take that,’ and make it great. Too many people ask for the choice assignments. Do the dishes really well and you'll be a valuable person.

“The broader advice is that the only things you can control in your life are your attitude and your effort. You can't control all the craziness of the people around you, the circumstances, situations, failures and successes. Give it your all and have a positive attitude. It goes along way in the world. That's under-appreciated, I think.”

Look for Part II of this blog here in two weeks, on September 17.

Visit to check out my books, CD, cartoons, and essays, and Famous Enneagram Types.

Read my WordPress blog of 9-26-13: “When Women Sound Like Little Girls.”

About the Author

Elizabeth Wagele was the co-author with Ingrid Stabb of The Career Within You: How to Find the Perfect Job for Your Personality.

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