1. Business

Give your professional life a spring cleaning

Published Apr. 9, 2013

Spring is on the horizon and it's time to focus on a fresh start. You might clean your house; you might organize your closets; you might even clean out your garage. But when's the last time you did a spring cleaning of your professional life?

"You hear people talk about getting in a rut personally, but in work, this happens all the time, too," said Joseph Callaway, who co-authored the best-selling book Clients First: The Two Word Miracle with his wife JoAnn Callaway. "There are all kinds of bad habits that we don't even realize we take on when we're just focusing on the end goal of making money and paying the bills."

Callaway said he and his wife (who run a real estate company in Scottsdale, Ariz.) had a life-changing moment during one of their real estate deals that changed the course of their careers.

"We had been going back and forth with counteroffers between two clients and JoAnn looked at me and said, 'I don't think this is a good deal for either one. We should take it off the table.' … We realized that the right thing to do was to focus on helping them find the best fit rather than just getting the commission. … That shifted everything in our professional lives."

Since that eye-opening day, the Callaways continue to educate others on shedding those bad business habits and giving themselves a career spring cleaning. Here are some of their tips.

Avoid apathy. "Taking pride in what you do is a choice," Joseph Callaway said. "When you focus on getting better, that takes out those feelings of apathy. … I have found that there's a lot of people in any business, they've forgotten more than they know. They need to remind themselves. And this helps you feel more connected to your job."

Stop worrying and start doing. "A lot of us take the weight of the world on our shoulders," he said. "To get out of this habit, I recommend facing something that is causing the worry. Maybe spend an hour solving a problem you've been avoiding. The longer you don't face something tough, the more it blows up on you. Face the tough ones first."

Don't be too professional. "You don't want to just be all business, all the time," Joseph Callaway said. "Make time to ask a co-worker a light question about their family or where they're from and you will be amazed at what you learn. When you get to know people, you don't have to get personal and go to lunch — but it helps to break up the professional routine. Everybody has some kind of story and it can be fun to share."

Don't be stingy with your time and money. "There are some people who only give so they can focus on what they get in return," he said. "If you give and give freely, you will find that things come back to you with interest."

Don't do it all yourself. Joseph Callaway said that when it comes to your career, you shouldn't try to do everything yourself. Sometimes you need to put your trust in others. "It's really a critical point in your business when you trust someone else and put your faith in someone. They will feel it and they will deliver for you," he said. "But you have to put your faith in people to get you where you need to be professionally."


  1. Casey Cane has resigned as chair of Pinellas County’s Housing Finance Authority in the wake of a Tampa Bay Times story about his failure to disclose an arrest for a financial felony when he was 19. He also serves as a Palm Harbor fire commissioner. Casey Cane
    Casey Cane failed to disclose his arrest for a financial felony in 2006. He said he didn’t think he had to reveal that information.
  2. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor speaks to about 75 people Tuesday at a city conference on innovation and collaboration. (City of Tampa photo by Janelle McGregor) Janelle McGregor
    City Hall brought together startups and the nonprofits that nurture them for a discussion of possible ideas to improve city operations and service.
  3. Tampa Bay Lightning owner and financier Jeff Vinik told investors in a letter Tuesday that he is closing Vinik Asset Management, the hedge fund he relaunched earlier this year. (Times files)
    The Tampa Bay Lightning owner and longtime financier announced the decision to close Vinik Asset Management in a letter to investors on Wednesday.
  4. Pat and Harvey Partridge visit Waiheke Island in New Zealand in April. Courtesy of David Partridge
    The husband-and-wife team that founded St. Petersburg’s Partridge Animal Hospital were known for their compassion and kindness to all creatures great and small.
  5. The lobby bar at the Current Hotel on Rocky Point in Tampa serves eclectic cocktails and locally brewed coffee. SARA DINATALE  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Take a look inside Tampa Bay’s newest boutique hotel.
  6. The Florida Supreme Court building in Tallahassee. SCOTT KEELER  |  Times
    The Tampa Bay Partnership, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and Tampa-Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. filed a brief in the Florida Supreme Court.
  7. Tech Data's headquarters in Largo. TD AGENCY  |  Courtesy of Tech Data
    Largo’s Tech Data would be the fourth in as many years, though the potential sale seems far from a done deal.
  8. Former WTSP-Ch. 10 news anchor Reginald Roundtree, shown here with his wife Tree, filed a lawsuit Friday against his former employer alleging he was fired because of age discrimination and retaliation. [Times file] WTSP  |  FACEBOOK
    The suit comes after a federal agency took no action on age discrimination complaints he had filed.
  9. Guests of the Flying Bridge at the Tradewinds Resort, which is now under new ownership. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
    The new owner says he plans to keep its management and 1,100 employees.
  10. The University of South Florida has earned national accolades for its push to raise graduation rates. Student loan debt in Florida is so crushing that it makes it hard to afford a house.
    Staggering debt loads make it hard to buy a home.