Are you working or wishing? When I hear colleagues complain of a dearth of opportunity, I summon the words of Todd Blackledge. (Yes, football.)
I hear colleagues in marketing professions all over the country complain that they can’t get work. Young college grads, mid-level managers--even seasoned executives lament, “There’s no good work out there.” And they make me angry.
Why? Because I agree with Todd Blackledge, a former NFL quarterback and football analyst. Todd’s key to success is The Six Ws: Work will win when wishing won't.
Are you scrambling and working on making things happen or are you just standing there, wishing for something to drop into your lap? Do you take short-term risks for long-term gains? What are you willing to do to rack up some big numbers?
Let’s take a test:
A Fortune 50 company headquartered 45 miles from your house has a six-month consulting project for $60 per hour. You are in-between jobs or contracts and haven’t had any paid work for three months. I reach out because your experience may be a good fit. Here are your choices:
a. Don’t respond to my email or call for three days.
b. Turn down the job because it’s too far away.
c. Decline the contract because your usual rate is $90 per hour and you want to maintain your standards.
d. Gladly accept the position and work as hard as you can, knowing you may gain valuable experience and contacts that lead to other opportunities.
Simple, right? Apparently not. I recently offered this opportunity to three qualified colleagues, all different ages, all looking for more work. One chose (a). One answered (b). And one answered (c). I was shocked.
If you or your company need more business, ask yourself these questions before turning down any new opportunities:
1. Can you afford it? If you have a robust savings account and can cover expenses for the next six months, great. Waiting for the right work is understandable. But in this lousy economy, many jobs and contracts end prematurely and unexpectedly. Companies are also delaying payments, so it may take 60 or 90 days to see the fruits of your labor. Are you prepared?
2. Are you thinking long-term? It’s important to show future prospects what you've been doing lately, even if that work pays less. They’ll never know the rate but they will notice a large gap of inactivity. A project may not seem ideal because of the money or location, but there will always be a long-term strategic benefit in the form of new skills or experience, new contacts, or referrals to other opportunities.
3. What are you afraid of? What are the real pros and cons of taking business you might have otherwise passed on? Are you hesitating because the business scares you in some way? If you truly can't do it, make sure you find someone who can. In this economy we all have to step outside our comfort zone to make things happen. And a referral to a competent colleague will at least create goodwill.
I’m sure Todd Blackledge didn’t just stand there and chuck the football downfield with his eyes closed. Quarterbacks scramble and expect receivers to do the same, beating the defense and creating opportunities. The best entrepreneurs are always sprinting, dodging, weaving, outrunning opponents and leaping fearlessly to snag anything lobbed in their general direction.
That’s what a first-round draft pick looks like. And that’s who will find the “good work” out there.
RENE SHIMADA SIEGEL is founder and president of High Tech Connect, a unique consulting partner for expert marketing and communications. After a successful career in Silicon Valley, she founded her company 15 years ago while juggling three kids under the age of five. @renesiegel