Be Awesome

Look, our forefathers died for the "pursuit of happiness," okay? Not for the "sit around and wait of happiness." Now if you want, we can go to the same bar, drink the same beer, talk to the same people every day or you can lick the Liberty Bell. You can grab life by the crack and lick the crap out of it.
--Barney (HIMYM)

Collected Advice for FSOs

Throughout orientation, lectures, emails, and meetings, I've come across a multitude of advice and words of wisdom for Foreign Service Officers.  Here's a compilation of some of the remarks I particularly like.

Work Related:

  • Be flexible and contribute where you can.  Perform every task professionally and positively.  Always make yourself useful.
  • Be relevant to broader concerns. Contribute to US foreign policy as related to development, work toward the greater good, and contribute to overall objectives.
  • Learn budget, financial management, programming, and executive correspondence.  These are critical skills, the vegetables that will make you strong.
  • Work well in interdisciplinary teams.  Translate skills and expertise to be relevant to others.
  • Gain an expertise in a technical area.  Be an expert and the "go-to" person.  Read.
  • Establish a network of "go-to" people.  (FSNs, other FSOs, Exos, contacts in DC, etc.)

  • Broaden contacts and establish relationships within the embassy, with the host country, and with business leaders and representatives.
  • Exercise intellectual curiosity.  Share the excitement of this field of work.
  • Challenge oneself and take responsibility for difficult tasks.
  • Take charge of your own career and direction.  Only you will look out for your best interests.
  • Seek mentors and mentor others.
  • Don't assume the system works efficiently or should be the way in the previous place you worked.  Understand the culture, build relationships, and improve things.
  • Always be a diplomat, 24/7, in professional and personal affairs.  Understand that responsibility.
  • Don't succumb to inappropriate behavior, even if you see it around you (and not penalized).
  • Don't lose sight of what you joined the Foreign Service to do.
And lastly, the advice that was given the first day we started and has been repeated consistently throughout is to manage your reputation.  It is one of the most valuable assets.  How one is known to operate can be as important as to what one does.
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