When we bring in new employees I tell them that working here is like getting to work in an office full of those really popular kids in high school that hung out at the quad. Only not popular but smart. Really smart. It is important when you work in an environment like ours, you can do two things: Say “say I don’t know” when you don’t know, and “I’m messed up” when you’ve messed up. These two sentences will earn you instant credibility. Not just here but almost anywhere

I don’t know. When you don’t know something it’s okay. Trust me, no one really expects you to know everything or even most things. If you did, we’d all be working for you. You know more today than you did yesterday, and you’ll know more tomorrow than you do today. Learn this phrase well and use it liberally. Let me caution you so that I am not being misleading. “I don’t know” is just a part of what you are to say when you don’t know something. You are to follow it up with “…but I’ll find out”. Nothing restores your manager’s faith in hiring you more than you taking charge and willing to find the right answer. This is crucial. Saying I don’t know how to tag UTM parameters or how a to do a java function is not appropriate. You need to add that you’ll be looking to learn it right away. Nothing annoys me more than when someone says I don’t know without at least taking a stab at finding the right solution.

I messed up. Admitting you’ve made a mistake and recognizing your fault is very introspective and an admirable characteristic. It shows that you’re intrinsically aware of yourself. People who believe that admitting fault or viewing those who do as weak are probably the same people who believe that men should not cry (under any circumstances) and are still debating climate change. You should always be courageous enough to fess up to a mistake (small or big) so that your team has an opportunity to fix it. It’s your duty and obligation. However, you should always followed it up with “…and I’m doing X do fix Y.” Just like saying you don’t know something but you’ll find out the answer, saying I’m messed up and here’s how I’ve fixed it for going to fix it is equally important. Again, this encourages your boss in hiring you.

Follow these simple instructions and you’ll get far.