Charles Koch and Chase Koch Share Key Insights on Finding Success and Meaning in Your Career

Charles Koch and Chase Koch share advice, such as how to continuously develop your gifts and find meaning in your work, at the annual Koch Intern Q&A
Mar 22, 2023 10:15 AM ET
Koch Intern Q&A

Internships are all about experience and learning. At Koch companies, one of those opportunities comes directly from Charles Koch, chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, and Chase Koch, CEO of Koch Disruptive Technologies, when they sit down for the annual Koch Intern Q&A. Charles and Chase offered words of advice and encouragement on how to have a successful and meaningful career.

Find your gift and where you can create the most value – and design your role around it 

“The worst disaster for people is going after the shiny object,” Charles told the crowd of more than 100 interns. “They say, ‘I want to be a supervisor, or I want to be a leader,’ and they’d be terrible at it when they were great individual performers.”

Chase suggested asking yourself three questions:

  • Where is your comparative advantage?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • Where’s the big market opportunity that aligns your passion and your gift?

Charles said over the years he learned a lot of things he wasn’t good at, but that by applying those questions he learned where he could contribute the most and feel good about himself.

The value of hard work 

One of the stories Chase shared with the interns was about his first experience working at Koch Industries. One summer when he was 15 years old, his father sent him to work at a feedlot in Syracuse, Kansas. He worked long, hard days shoveling manure and doing other manual labor tasks around the lot.

While it wasn’t what he would consider enjoyable, he later realized that it was good for him. Chase said he had learned the value and accomplishment of hard work.

“I hope that you all feel that this summer – that you’ve come in, you’ve learned, you’ve accomplished something and you’ve improved yourself,” he said.

Develop lasting partnerships 

Charles emphasized the importance of creating mutually beneficial partnerships. He shared three keys to finding good partners:

  • Share a vision.
  • Share values.
  • Leverage complementary capabilities to help each other and the greater goal.

Continuously improve yourself 

Charles also told the interns that once you’ve found some success, you can’t stop. You must keep improving by finding out what you lack and working to fill the gap.

“To the extent we’re closed, we’re satisfied with what we are doing, we don’t need input from the outside, we don’t need to use the knowledge of our people and so on – when we let that happen at any level, we decline,” he said.

Find meaning 

Much of the advice was ultimately aimed at helping the interns learn how to find meaning in what they do, no matter where their careers take them. Charles said the principles he tries to live every day can help people realize their full potential no matter what they’re doing.

“We want you to be happy,” he said. “We want you to have a life of meaning.”

See more about Koch careers.