Many people often ask and wonder how or why they don’t get promoted, or even noticed at their jobs. Here is some advice I got from a VP of Engineering at a very prominent tech company in Austin, TX:

Be the person where the problems die, be the finisher and people will notice you

While simple this is such great advice, it basically tells you that if you want to be noticed and advance in your career, you need to take ownership and get things done, that’s it. This is very interesting because even when we think we are great executors and sometimes even brag about how much we get done, the truth is that only a few people really take ownership and full responsibility when given a task or a problem to solve.

take ownership and get promoted


If your manager is able to hand you a problem and you have the capacity and tenacity of figuring out the problem and complete the task, you’ll probably be a clear candidate to promote and give more responsibility when the time comes because your manager will know you can get the job done. In other words, they know you are a finisher, problems die when they come to you, you are trustworthy and naturally they’ll be willing to give you more responsibility.

Remember, it is not so much about office politics or friendships, it is about getting things done and have an impact because that will look good on you, your boss and your company.



2 responses to “Be the person where the problems die, be the finisher and people will notice you”

  1. Stefan Brunner Avatar

    Well, … This might be right for a small startup. It is certainly not right for big corporate.

    In any project you will be involved in big corporate, there will be many more people involved, even if most of them do not contribute to the bottom line. If things go well, everybody will claim credit. So higher the person in the food chain, so more they will claim credit. If things go south, the blame game will start and the weakest link will get it.

    When it comes to promotion, it is all about self marketing – nothing else. Self marketing and to fit in – talk the talk and walk the walk. Even if you screw up, people have short memories. They remember the guy with (valid) concerns (in a negative way), as much as they remember the cheerful optimist even if that guy is a browny. The never remember the blip of the guy who won a $10m business or screwed up $100m. Of course opportunity plays another role.

    It then becomes an ethical question whether to do the right thing – or what helps you to get ahead. I have seen people building a career on getting a new job every year and half, moving from competitor to competitor, always falling up. Claiming success for projects which started well before their time and drop out before anybody notices that they are useless.

    Politics and diplomacy is a complex topic and they are many more mechanics involved, such as the exec who only hires weaker people, (there is also the exec who only hires smarter). The exec who hires “trusted” people over competent for sometimes valid reasons, etc. you will be amazed for the reasons people get promoted. But it has little to do with how hard you work, how much you get done, or whether you show initiative – the later actually in a big company can get you into a lot of hot water politically. It depends on your ability to market yourself in whatever way that market value might be defined in your target group.

    Disclaimer, this is the view of a consultant as a neutral observer having helped out many Fortune 500s. My view might be skewed.


  2. Michael Avatar

    Ahh, nice article that can get many perspectives put into play. One perspective that comes to mind after reading both article and reply is, “Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs. ~Farrah Gray”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Create a website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: