In a recent interview with The Rumpus, John Grisham talked about his new book, "Camino Island," and revealed some delightful anecdotes about his career. One of the most heartwarming surprises came when he talked about his friendship with author Stephen King.
Grisham talked about how King helped him early in his career and how that inspired him to give out his email address to young writers who were once in his position.
"Stephen reached out to me twenty-five years ago and taught me some valuable lessons," he said. "In return, I've tried to be generous with my time over the years with young writers."
It's a relief to hear that Grisham, who has sold more than 300 million copies of his books, isn't too busy or successful to help other people. It's also a good reminder that there's probably more we could be doing to help others who see our careers as their dream jobs.
If you're inspired by Grisham's efforts, here are a few things you can offer up-and-comers in your field right now:
Can you set aside a 30-minute lunch break every other week to meet with someone who could use your support? What about taking 20 minutes to stay after a panel and talk to someone who clearly looks up to you and wants to learn from your success? How about finding some time at the end of each week to answer a few emails from people asking how you did something? If you can manage your schedule to fit this in, you should. People will remember your generosity and how you used your time to help them out.
Instead of hoarding the contact information of powerful or influential people, consider using it to help others. If there's someone who could benefit from meeting a friend or coworker of yours, see if you can connect them. People will remember that you're someone who looks out for the best interests of others, and that's the kind of reputation we should all be striving to build. Plus, if they hit it off and form a successful partnership, they'll always remember who brought them together in the first place.
You've likely learned a lot of valuable things over the years. Think about what you wish you would have known early in your career and share that information with people who were in your position. Do what Grisham does and give out your email address to people you meet if you think they'd benefit from hearing about your experience. Not only will you earn good karma points, but you'll also be seen as a leader in your field or industry. That will open the door to more opportunities for you and the people you're helping.
Are there other ways you can support someone? What are they? Can you set aside an hour or so a month to do that? Think about the skills you have, the experiences you've had, and the people you want to help. Ask them what would be useful to them at this point in their careers and see if you can support them. You never know what service, product, or offering could be valuable to someone.
If you're ready to give back to those who were once in your position, try offering one or more of these things. You may be surprised to find how fulfilling it is to do so.