My first job out of college was on the 42nd floor of 1515 Broadway in a slightly cramped office with no privacy, not even a high-walled cubical. I went to work as a production designer, where I first started keeping notes about my experiences, culminating in the lectures and workshops I currently produce.
It was just a big open room with world war two era desks butted up against each other. Our desks were so close together I was pretty sure we could read each other’s thoughts. You could not help but hear what people at the desk behind you said on the phone, not to mention being able to listen to the person on the other end clear as a bell. It was that proximity that practically forced collaboration, teamwork, and relationship building. There was no way one of us could do anything without being under the other team members’ scrutiny and commentary. That first close-quarters interaction began my education of how important it was to develop friendships and build long-lasting relationships—years after you move on, how you treated and helped others will create long-lasting memories and benefits.
The Virtual World.
There is undoubtedly a lack of casual or even deliberate collaboration for several reasons in our current environment. I have found that the technology we use, the pandemic sequestering, and the self-isolation prevent random ideas from becoming a reality. It was not unusual in our cramped office for someone to look over another’s shoulder and comment about what they were doing. Within minutes, a crowd would form, and conversations would create additional solutions and ideas that would not have otherwise developed. Sometimes formal, many times randomly, these collaborative sessions not only provided us with better ideas, but we formed great trust and relationships with our group.
Among the loud voices talking above each other, there seemed to be a quieter voice that would make us all listen up. That voice came from this week’s guest. She hails from Beverly, Massachusetts, and currently works there in the same town where she grew up. But back when she was working in NYC, she always had an insightful comment, a comical quip, or constructive advice from which we all benefited. I am pleased to have on my podcast Joanna Murphy Scott, Director, Enterprise Marketing of the Copyright Clearance Center. I know you will enjoy the conversation with my friend from Beverly, Mass.
Joanna and I talked about so many great things. Some of her thoughts ran parallel to what past guests have stated, but here are the Action Items I drew from our conversation:
Change Can Yield Opportunity: It is easy to get comfortable with a routine, giving the feeling of safety. Change can always appear negative, but that is a mindset. Change can be as significant as switching careers or as small as driving a different way to work. Either event, if viewed through a perspective of opportunity, can provide you with one. I challenge you to change something small in your routine. Go a different way home, park in a different space, buy your coffee from a new place, and when you do, keep your mind alert for opportunities. If you have that mindset, you may meet a new friend, run into an old one, or meet your next boss. Whatever the change you make today, set your mind to be ready and open to see the possibilities that may appear. Go with the flow, take a chance, and see what happens.
Plan For The Things You Can Control, Build A Great Team For The Things You Can’t: As we discussed, you will have to put on an event at some point. It may be for a thousand people or just one; either way, the process should be the same. Research, Prepare, Plan, and have a team (or resources around you) to support you, just in case. Not everything will go to plan, and when it doesn’t, you or your team needs to be able to take it in stride. I find that having that one person who can remain calm and work the problem during the heat of the moment is the person you need to have on your side. If you are not that calm person, your task is to keep your eyes open to find that person and get them on your team. They will be more valuable than the most intelligent person because they will be able to shield your audience from whatever goes sideways and make it look like you planned for it to happen that way. If you are that calm person, help others do what they cannot as they may have a skill that you do not.
Collaborate More: One of the things Joanna and I talk about is how the technology accessible to today’s generation is such a fantastic tool, but it is dangerous because it can cause siloing. It is essential to collaborate with others. You do not have to solve world peace, but you should make it a habit to chat with your peers regularly. So, your task is this: Even though most of us cannot meet in person just yet, I challenge you to create a small group of peers and invite them just to talk for an hour either virtually or in a socially distanced, safe outdoor place. Tell everyone invited to bring a question or problem that they need someone else’s opinion. It doesn’t have to be a big or personal one, just a discussion starter. You will find you will get more out of the conversation than you thought.
If I were not a good teammate, friendly, and left a good impression of myself back in the early ’90s, Joanna would not have accepted my connection on LinkedIn a few years ago. She certainly would not have followed my career highlights through the years and definitely would not have been a guest on my podcast. You can get a good start to anything; it starts an ability to form good relationships at every interaction with others that you can. I am grateful for the 16 guests I have had on the podcast so far and am confident it was because I cultivated those relationships years ago. Embrace change with a positive mind, collaborate with people outside your circle, and you will be preparing yourself for when things do not go so well.
I appreciate feedback of all kinds, so please email me any questions or feedback to email@example.com. Have a great week, and remember, it doesn’t take a lot to get a good start; you just have to start. Thank you.