“Office Hours” is a new policy that my corporate job has implemented in order to bridge the gap between the President and employees. In effort to open the lines of communication and build a better working relationship between the two, the President opens her doors for approximately 2 hours every quarter which allows anyone to walk in and have a chat, and or ask a specific question about either the company or their career growth.
I thought it was clever. Not many Senior executives take the time and put in the effort, but our head office did and I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity. Since I started my role as an Executive Assistant to one of her Sr Vice Presidents in July, I’ve been working really hard with my head down, trying to nail my responsibilities and get a good workflow going. And it sure is going. Although it is a high-stress environment, fast paced with sharp learning curves, somehow I manage to still love my job. Hard to outwardly express my love some days, but all in all, I am content.
But when I heard that her “office hours” day was coming up [months ago], I contemplated whether or not I should step in and say hello. I sit right in front of her yet, many times I was overlooked or barely acknowledged. I never took offense. It what it is. I just knew that I had the skills and a brilliant idea that would turn things around. Often times in these settings, you have to show and prove what you bring to the table. Respect has to be earned. You are pretty much invisible otherwise. Sad, but true. No one hands out participant ribbons. The corporate world is not an easy playground. But I had enough guts to step up to the challenge.
My background is in writing. I’ve been a professional writer since the age of 22. My most recent accomplishment has been (ghost)writing speeches and op-eds for celebrities, pro athletes and fortune 500 CEOs. Like, I’m f’kn bad ass wit it. I’m confident enough to say I do know my shit and humble enough to say that I still have a lot to learn and a long way (in my career) to go. But here lies the problem and blessing. Not many CEOs understand the value of content marketing or working with a speechwriter. So when I see an opportunity, I try to position myself accordingly.
I studied my President. Watched her videos, read her articles, educated myself with everything there is to know about her. When I walked into her office, I was able to take a shaky step forward but with faith in my delivery. I started by introducing myself and then I just went for the pitch.
“[I said something I admired about her and then tied it in to a NY Times feature I previously read] I know for the past few years, you’ve delivered countless speeches, led panel discussions and amazing presentations.”
She nods her head slowly.
“WelI, outside of the office, I am a professional writer [I explained my background] with a genuine interest to work alongside you by ghostwriting some of your key messages. I’d like to take one more thing off your to-do list.”
She sat straight up in her chair and smiled. Her response, “Interesting…”
We chatted for another 10 minutes and it ended with an offer to meet with your PR team. Hash tag WINNING. A few days later, I met with the head of Public Relations and now I’m on the inside working as a ghostwriter for the President.
Simple rules for getting the career you want (or customizing it to how you want it):
1. Closed mouths don’t get fed. It’s important to raise your hand, speak up (even if your voice shakes) and ask the damn question. What’s the worse that can happen, they say no? Okay. If that’s worst case scenario then you are doing better than most people.
2. Your talents will take you as far as you’d like them to. Girl, I can only say it because I’ve lived it. Don’t ever shy away or hide from your gifts. They are meant to be shared with the world.
3. Every step is necessary. Be patient with the process. I couldn’t have had the courage to step to the president if I didn’t go through many years of hard work, free jobs, long hours and so on and so on. The journey is important. It’s where you build character, your reputation, your backbone.
Hope this inspires you to finally ask for that raise or title change. I hope it inspires you to take a step anywhere but backwards.
Peace & Love,