How To Quickly Rise To The Top Of Your Industry—Without Experience

By Anthony J. Yeung

It doesn’t matter the industry you’re in or your level of experience, you can still rise to the top. I’ve learned the hard way how to do so in various fields—here are some highlights:

  • I went from skinny and weak to becoming a personal trainer featured Men’s HealthGolf Digest, and Muscle & Fitness in just two years.
  • I went from a terrible writer with zero published articles to being a columnist at Esquire and GQ in 3 years.
  • I went from no marketing experience to becoming a copywriter who wrote successful national radio and TV ads for top-selling international brands.

But there’s really no secret and nothing special about me. (In fact, many of you are probably more qualified than I was!)

In this article, I’ll show you the exact, highly potent strategies that helped me grow in every industry faster than others — things that might counter a lot of other advice you’ve read before. It’s very possible and, regardless of your level of experience, these tips will help you too:

Study The Best

This is the easiest starting point: If you want to get good at something, learn from the best at it.

To rise faster than others, you need to learn faster than others and you need to learn more than others. But if you follow traditional learning methods—taking a class, studying a textbook, etc.—it tends to be pretty average and conventional.

You’ll learn from people who are “decent” at their craft or people who merely did what everyone else did. In other words, the ceiling of the information is a lot lower.

But if you study from the best, you’ll gain real-world insights you can’t find in a textbook. You’ll learn more advanced, no-bullshit techniques. (They might even tell you that most textbooks are wrong or outdated.) This is key because you’re not trying to learn “academia;” you’re trying to learn from what works best in reality.

Whether it’s with engineering, writing, or design, there are always people at the top of the industry who are bursting with knowledge. Find them and study the hell out of their work.

Fortunately, it’s easier than ever in 2020. There is so much great—and free—information out there. Read their blogs. Watch their YouTube videos and speeches. Follow their email lists. And if you want to go further, buy their books, take their online courses, or join their online groups.

In my career, whether it was fitness, writing, copywriting, and more, I made sure to learn and study from the best in the business and it helped me grow faster than I could’ve imagined.

A word of warning, however: There’s a big difference between “expert” versus someone who’s famous, but has no clue what they’re doing. (For example, in fitness, there’s a big difference between a celebrity trainer in all the TV shows and someone who actually knows what the hell they’re talking about.)

Get In-Person Experience From The Best

“Learn in your 20s, earn in your 30s.”

— Keith Ferrazzi

When you’re just starting out, it’s more important to learn than earn. Why? Because the knowledge you gain at the beginning will put you on a completely different trajectory. Some else might grab an entry-level job while you take an unpaid internship, but once you’ll start working, you’ll quickly pass them.

The reality is 3 months in a good internship with a lauded expert in your field can be worth as much as 3 years of experience at an entry-level job.

Because at an entry-level job, you’ll only learn how to get good at entry-level work, and the knowledge you gain will be capped at the level of your superiors and your colleagues. But with an internship at the highest levels of your field will teach you so much valuable wisdom every single day.

You’re in the trenches. You get to see how the masters do it. You get to ask tough questions and learn powerful answers. You get thrown in the fire and learn on the fly. When I started in fitness, I took a 3-month internship at a facility that taught me more than most personal trainers learn in a lifetime—and it helped me get into magazines quickly.

If they don’t offer internships, do what I did and email them and ask if they’re open to an internship or just coming by a few times a week to shadow them. If you can’t do an internship, sign up for a live seminar, workshop, or conference. Put yourself in that setting. (You’ll get to meet driven, ambitious people as well.)

Or if your industry doesn’t do internships, try asking experts to critique your work. Don’t just email them out of the blue and say, “Hey, I wrote this huge thing. Could you look at it for me?” (That’s an automatic “no.”) Start by building a relationship and then ask for advice. Usually, people are quite helpful.

Trust me: Don’t be in too much of a hurry to get paid. If you get an incredible opportunity with an expert but need to make money to pay the bills, get a side job while you do the internship. (I know, it sucks, but it’s worth it in the long-term.)

Model Ambitious People

“Surround yourself with people who remind you more of your future than your past.”

— Dan Sullivan

When I worked at commercial gyms, a big reason why I grew faster than them in the industry was that I wanted more than them.

Most others just wanted a decent paying job that was steady, had good benefits, and let them stop thinking about work once they left. They didn’t want to write for magazines. They didn’t want to open their own business. (And that’s totally cool too.)

But I wanted to be great at my work.

I wanted to reach incredible heights.

I was so passionate about it and I loved it.

Look, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting a steady paycheck and an easy, non-stressful job. That’s fine. To each their own. But if you reallyand I mean, really—want to rise super fast in your field, then you must change your motivation.

Everything has to be different: How you think, how you act, and how you try. You can’t model everyone else; you need to model the best. Surround yourself with colleagues who are extremely ambitious and always learning and growing. Reach out to people who are more successful than you and build a connection. They’ll push you forward, share wisdom, and unleash a motivation you couldn’t have done solo.

Make Bigger Jumps

Most career advice follows a relatively straight-line, linear path. You start at the bottom, then you slowly and gradually inch higher and higher until, years later (and due to factors beyond your control), you finally make it.

Instead, if you want to rise the ranks quickly, you have to aim high and try to do things before you feel 100% ready. You have to look to make discontinuous jumps in your career and then learn on the job. Who else can you help beyond your current level? Who else can you talk to that’s more advanced?

Take leaps and try things beyond your comfort zone. Force your hand and do things before you meet all the qualifications. Sometimes, you’ll suffer from “imposter syndrome,” where you don’t believe you’re good enough to be where you are or that you don’t belong. But the more you do it, the most you get used to that feeling.

Also, when you feel like you’ve hit your limit at your job, leave. Remember: What you learn and how far you’ll grow is capped by the level of your supervisors and colleagues.

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