Episode 23: Chance Favors the Ready
A couple of days ago, I had a chat with a co worker who just received a promotion and is moving cross country to California. I let him know, as a member of my team I always admired how relentless he was about his own professional development. This guy is always reading up on our industry and practicing sales tips/techniques. He even learned a couple of languages to prepare for different opportunities in Asia. In lieu of coming on the podcast, he gave me the title of today’s episode: Chance Favors the Ready. I am going to let you know what that means to me and how I put it into practice here on the View 112 Podcast.
Chance Favors the Ready… its right up there with Seneca the Younger’s “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”. In other words stay ready so you don’t have to get ready. I’m here for that! Here are a few of my best practices to prepare for a professional opportunity:
1. Take a good look at that LinkedIn profile and resume. I used to have a bad habit of waiting until I applied for jobs or promotions to update my LinkedIn Profile and resume. Applying for a job or promotion is stressful enough let along having to update your credentials with a resume or on LinkedIn. Now as I am working on freelance writing, I’ve added that to my LinkedIn profile and I built a writing resume. Now as I work on different projects and have had different experiences, I make note of them. Since I interview people a lot, I notice when people are not prepared to talk about their work or experiences. Not because they don’t have them, but maybe they’ve forgotten about them or have not thought about how they could relate the work. As professionals we meet people all the time and people are constantly looking at our LinkedIn profiles. Heck all of our social media profiles for that matter. What does yours say about you when you don’t have the opportunity to speak for yourself? I’ve learned especially in my current role to be prepared to meet anyone at the drop of a dime and with little notice. I reach out to my peers and other leaders for advice and support and people reach out to me to find out what I’m doing as well. I have to be ready to talk about what I’m doing. How I achieved a certain result etc. Those skills come from experiences and I make sure those experiences are also on my resume. The recruiter at my current employer told me he found me based on ONE line on my resume about corporate sales. I had only done true B2B sales 1 year out of my 12 year career history but that 1 year of experience is how this recruiter found me.
2. Commit to skill building RIGHT NOW. Speaking of B2B Sales, my co worker I referenced in the open and I used to practice different sales techniques all the time. We’d practice different cold call openings. We practiced different email templates. We practiced making calls standing up versus sitting down. We learned how to build our own campaign lists- a skill we both learned from other jobs. When career opportunities first opened up in China, my coworker began learning Mandarin. I know a few people that went to China but he is only person I knew that actually learned Mandarin. Even though he no longer works in China, he is connected with colleges there and communicates with them via WeChat in Mandarin. I could go on forever about language learning as it is my biggest life long learning goal. But friends, do you know how much more opportunity is available to you by being multilingual? As a teenager I took a sign language class with my mom. To this day, I can communicate slightly via ASL because of that class. I’ve had a couple of coworkers over the years that have taught me more signs. Last year I was asked to go to a recruiting fair at Gallaudet University. While mostly we used our technology to communicate with candidates, I was able to sign a bit and connect with candidates on a level that other recruiters did not. They didn’t know how to sign at all. Now that I think of it, most of the skills I’ve learned, I’ve learned with other people or by reading and practicing. At a pervious employer I had an assistant that would pull all kinds of reports for me. One day I asked him to show me how to do it. Anytime I need someone to help me do something, I also want them to show me how they did it. When I first got into blogging, I hosted my blog on Wordpress, then I learned how to host it on my own using BlueHost. Today view112.com is hosted on SquareSpace. I had to learn how to maintain a blog on a new platform and host The View 112 Podcast. All of these skills will manifest themselves in different ways and at different times. I won’t have to get ready though.
3. Know what’s poppin in your industry. I’ll keep this one short. READ. Seriously, the major benefit coming out of the digital age is the amount of information that is accessible. Put it to good use. This is why I don't watch much television. Yes, of course I watch some (Game of Thrones, Ballers, Insecure tonight and when the NFL starts oh boy). Still on a regular basis, I simply do not have the time to watch much television. There is so much other content I need to consume to prepare me for the opportunities of my life. Reading is my favorite way to consume content and for quick reads on my industry, I check out FlipBoard at least once a day. FlipBoard can be arranged by topics like business, technology, travel, etc. You can curate your own content from different places like Business Insider and Fortune Magazine. There I read literally dozens of articles per day. I also get alerts on my iPhone and Apple Watch from Apple News. Similarly to FlipBoard, you can curate the content you read from different outlets such as Time Magazine and The Washington Times. I read and listen to podcasts about my career industry. I also read and listen to podcasts about writing. I read Writers Digest and Readers Digest. I get newsletters sent to my email inbox from different places. Lastly I follow my industry on social media. I like to be in the know. Consuming all of this type of content helps me be in the know. I can connect with most people about anything (except movies-I don’t watch them lol).
4. Practice apprenticeship. Yep. Allow me to share an example of this from an episode of HBO’s Insecure: The character Molly was on a video call with a colleague from another office in a different state. It was clear this woman was in a higher position than Molly, but the 2 ladies had a good working relationship and Molly had worked on projects with this lady before. Anyway at the end of the call Molly mentioned that she’d learned a lot from working with the woman and would be glad work with her in the future. The woman thanked Molly, then paused and said come to think of it, I do have some big cases coming up and could use the help. She asked Molly if she would be available to spent time between the Chicago and LA offices. Molly said sure. I sat there thinking, now thats…how… you…do…it! Do you know the opportunities that are going to come to Molly (my fav on the show) from this? Side note: Shout out to HBO’s Insecure for highlighting a lot of things on that episode including unequal pay. It is important to give help. Offering help in this way has a bad reputation in some circles as brown nosing which is ridiculous. Of course there are ways to go about this which are inappropriate. With the right professional relationship, being an apprentice to a more seasoned person in your field is totally the move. I was listening to an episode of the MyTaughtYou Podcast with Myleik Teele and she had on author Ryan Holiday. I’ve read 2 books by Ryan Holiday: The Obstacle is the Way and Ego is the Enemy. I learned that Ryan worked for THE Robert Greene who wrote The 48 Laws of Power. Holiday did research and learned workflow and all types of tips and techniques while working for Robert Greene that have made him an incredible writer in his own right. Over the years, I have offered help outside the scope of my role for people I've worked for. Favors as small as grabbing coffee to typing conference call/meeting notes when I didn’t have to. I have helped with much larger things like helping to research points of a presentation that I didn’t get credit or help for. I’ve done work that people are too busy to do. Often times there was no direct payoff in the moment. I’ve learned over the years that sitting around the right people or being in the room at the right time has paid off more than I could ever imagine. There have been so many moments I’ve found myself in situations in which I have not had direct experience. Again, not direct experience, but I’ve seen that situation or something similar before while I was in that room as a fly on the wall, quietly working.
Chance Favors the Ready-Thank you so much to my co worker Alex Kim, the inspiration for today’s episode. If you enjoy listening to the View 112 Podcast, please do me a favor and subscribe on Apple Podcasts. I’d really appreciate a rating on Apple Podcasts as well. You can ask questions and connect with me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can be found on social media LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter all as Jeanita Morris too. Until next time…