Meteoric rises through the executive ranks are rare, so take things slow by setting short-term, tangible goals, and don't ever get discouraged, Steve Tobak writes. Former Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg started his career as a lowly cable splicer's assistant; two AT&T CEOs began at the bottom of Southwestern Bell; and Tobak, now a partner at a Silicon Valley-based consulting firm, worked part time at a local bank after graduating college, Tobak writes.

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