SUCCESS STARTS WITH
To achieve almost anything in life you have to put yourself into new
situations. To have a successful career, you often need to change
jobs and join new organizations. You get promoted into new teams.
Sometimes you’re transferred to unfamiliar cities and countries.
Outside of work, you’re new every time you go back to school for
more education or join a new health club to get in shape. You’re
often a newcomer every time you take up a new hobby, go on a
vacation over-seas, or check one more thing off your “bucket list.”
In fact, it’s nearly impossible to accomplish anything meaningful
and important in life without at some point having to meet new
people, learn new things, and take on new roles. And as a newcomer,
how you think and act in those first few seconds, minutes, hours,
and days matters. What you do when you’re new often determines
whether you will find the success, satisfaction, and happiness that
drove you to be a newcomer in the first place.
The goal of this book is to help you become a more suc-cessful
-newcomer—across all kinds of new situations. We’ll explore the
science of newcomer success and give you a set of strategies,
techniques, and exercises to become:
• More productive and confident in your new role
• Better connected to new co-workers, classmates, group members, and
• Less anxious and awkward around strangers
• More willing to seek out those new experiences that make life
interesting, rewarding, and fun
NEWCOMER SUCCESS: FIVE KEY SKILLS
I’ve been studying newcomer success for over twenty years. In the
workplace, I have interviewed hundreds of new em-ployees in a
variety of roles, levels, and industries. I have ob-served newcomers
while they work, and have talked to their managers. I’ve also asked
newcomers to keep journals about their first few weeks on the job
and have conducted newcomer surveys across many organizations.
Outside of the workplace, I’ve interviewed newcomers join-ing
schools, churches, neighborhoods, theater groups, health clubs, and
even rock bands. I’ve interviewed college students moving into
residence halls, and senior citizens moving into retirement
communities. I’ve talked with people taking classes on everything
from swimming, guitar, yoga, and skiing to beekeeping. Through these
interviews I’ve been trying to un-derstand what successful newcomers
do that allows them to have such positive, rewarding experiences.
How do they get up to speed quickly? How do they integrate
themselves into their new group? How do they get the information and
advice they need to be productive in their new role?
I’ve discovered that the secret to newcomer success is no secret at
all. It mostly comes down to our willingness and ability to do five
1. Introduce ourselves to strangers.
2. Learn and remember names.
3. Ask questions.
4. Seek out and start new relationships.
5. Perform new things in front of others.
For most of us, these five skills are both the key to new-comer
success and our greatest source of anxiety in new situations. For
example, although we know that introductions are critical to getting
connected, we are reluctant to approach and introduce ourselves to
new people. We realize that remembering names creates a great
“second” impression, but we discover we’re unable to recall names
when we meet people again.
We know that asking questions is often the only way to get the
information we need, but we hesitate to bother busy, im-portant
people. We understand that all work gets done through relationships,
but we are reluctant to start and build new ones. Finally, we find
ourselves anxious about performing our new role in front of
unfamiliar people, even though we know that newcomers are expected
to start out slow and make a few mistakes.