Back in the early nineties, before we had kids, Patricia and I and all of our friends quite often met up for ski weekends. My buddy, Snax, had a share in a ski house in New Hampshire and he would invite us to come up and join the group. We had a lot of great laughs and, at times, some deep discussions. One weekend, one of the guys who rented the house with Snax was there with his wife. We ended up getting into a discussion, and the dude’s wife got all over me because I stated that if you wanted to get a great job, you couldn’t just expect it to come to you, you had to get off your ass and get it. She came at me with, “That’s easy for you to say; you wouldn’t have your job if your father didn’t own the radio station.” At the time, I worked at WHDH Radio in Boston.
When those words came out of her mouth, the entire room of people froze, bewilderment showing on their faces. My father was a pharmaceutical sales rep and a pharmacist his entire life. Not only did he not own a radio station, he didn’t know anyone who worked at a radio station until I did. I got the gig through pure determination and an insatiable appetite to work hard and achieve my goals. The job had nothing to do with my family or connections.
We recently had brunch with our crew and that story came up in conversation. We all giggled about it, but it also got me thinking. Many folks believe that the only way to get a great job is to know someone or be a relation. While that is definitely a plus, it should not be taken as a given. Plenty of times I have heard the phrases, “Who does he know?” or “He must have pictures of them in compromising positions.” The reality is, I worked my way up in the broadcast industry and I did the same in the sports industry, not knowing anyone to get me in the door or get me the gig. Then, once I was in, I worked tirelessly to do what was right for the company in order for it to grow and achieve its overall goals.
Many folks cop the attitude that people get jobs and succeed because of who they know as opposed to what they know. I’m here to tell you that it’s not about either one of those aspects, in and of themselves. Yes, it’s extremely important to have connections and a network to tap in to; you should be working on that well before college and your career. Yes, experience and education are crucial and will help you excel. But those aspects are only part of the equation and are not an either/or situation. First and foremost, you have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and make things happen. That is the crucial part of your career advancement. If you’re fortunate enough to have all three going for you, then you can write your own ticket, but when that’s not the case, you, and only you, will prevent or propel your success.
I have earned every title and position I’ve had in my career. I have worked hard, even in the face of opposition. Do not let anyone tell you that you cannot achieve and succeed because you do not know the “right people”, that you do not have enough connections, or that your skill set and experience are all wrong for the job. You can succeed in any position if you have the determination to do so. The woman at the ski house assumed that a guy like me could only get the gig if I had help and that was the only way those types of jobs were obtainable. She didn’t get it, and everyone else who doubts you or themselves doesn’t get it either. Don’t let the naysayers get the best of you and don’t give the status quo the satisfaction. Get out of your comfort area and make things happen.