In the early days of my career, I saw many people advance faster than me, and I surpassed many people more quickly than I thought I would. Being naive and new to the corporate advertising world, I did not see the bigger picture. I am not sure who the person was who coined the phrase, “Luck is when opportunity meets preparedness.” As I matured in my career and professional life, I realized you could never be too prepared because you will never know when an opportunity will present itself.
I always marveled at people who seemed to be the “go-getters,” the ones with seemingly endless energy and passion. They were the luckiest people I have ever met. The breaks always seemed to go their way. I saw many surpass me while I sat waiting for my chance, for an opportunity to knock on my door. That was until a co-worker of mine got the chance to be the senior art director on a new campaign. I was baffled, for I thought I would have been next in line for the job.
After stewing for a few days, I walked into their office and said to them, “How in the world did you get this promotion?” They looked at me square in the eye and said, “it was easy, Scott, I asked.” I thought for a minute, and my friend looked at me and continued, “however, when I asked, I was ready.” Asking someone how or why can lead to knowledge that can prepare you to ask someone, “When?” Many people are shy when they are in a new place or start a new position. The fear of standing out or not knowing keeps them from being curious. They would rather pretend to know than be the first one to ask a question.
If you want to pursue a specific lifestyle and career, you always need to be humble and open to learning. I do not specifically mean learning in a formal classroom; I suggest looking to those doing what you want to do. I want to help you get the knowledge you cannot get from sitting in a classroom. To gain that advantage, you need to take action. If you want to ask for a promotion and get it, you have to prepare yourself. From the beginning, you need to continue to learn even when you feel you know enough. You have to be curious and ask, but more importantly, be prepared to listen.
There are few people like Mike Kaufman. As the owner and president, he has decades of experience running a successful printing company. Even with a massive downturn in the printing industry, he knew how to pivot and succeed because he was a continuous learner. It is not unusual for him to call a meeting to hand out a new book discovered to his employees. And then, call them together a month later to discuss what they had learned from it.
If you know Mike, you will not find it strange to get jars of honey from his beehives located on the roof of his building. Or that a good portion of the power needed to run his business comes from wind turbines and solar panels. He is not a typical printer. He is interested in learning about his customers so he can develop a mutually beneficial relationship. As long as I have known Mike, he believes his business is helping others and making connections. This belief has provided him with decades of significant business and personal relationships. His insight will give you a glimpse into a business owner’s mind and how you can prepare yourself to get a good start as you enter the workforce.
In today’s podcast, Mike talked about items that had a common thread. They all required you to ask and be curious to prepare yourself for the next opportunity. Here are the key takeaways from today’s interview:
- Explore and challenge yourself. Do not be afraid to ask others about what they do and how they do it. Be bold enough to try things you would not usually try. Experimentation could lead you to a place you never realized.
- Networking is a continuous process. Walk into a room and find someone you do not know and get to know them. Afterward, continue the conversation and build that relationship. Check-in regularly and be memorable. Build a database, do not just attend a networking event for the free sliders.
- Always ask questions. People love to talk about themselves. Building a rapport with others happens more quickly when you listen and take an interest in others’ knowledge and experience.
Being good at asking questions can get you the knowledge you need, build the relationships you want, and open the door to the opportunities you desire. You only need to step up, say hello, and speak.
I appreciate Mike for his time, and please send me any feedback or questions you may have for him to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be sure to connect you, or you can email him directly at email@example.com.
Have a great week, and remember, it doesn’t take a lot to get a good start. Thank you.