A lot of executives are out there looking for the 'holy grail' of success. They bulk up on education, they cajole and maneuver, they scheme and plan. In the end, it comes down to just one action — performed consistently. Over the past few days, I've been running a series of workshops for a Fortune 50 company. One story I tell is the one where I was a lowly coordinator in the Marketing department. One day, the senior vice-president announced that the executive team is working with a NYC agency to develop a self-running sales CD for all 1000 account executives. This CD would be a virtual brochure — showing how the company does it stuff with graphics, audio, and movies. The price tag was in the millions and it was going to 'change the way we present to clients." Candidly, the SVP was not too happy about this.
I went back to my small office and thought about what I just heard. Let me let you in on a secret . . . I am the king of Powerpoint. Back then (and today) I could do ANYTHING with Powerpoint, even cook you dinner. You have to remember — all Powerpoint slides were a series of bulleted items (and they still are today - a real crime). So I began to play around with it, developing a series of 5-10 slides that had our logos, graphics, audio, and movies (big stuff for 1995!).
After 2-3 hours (and some calls to close colleagues in sales to get their feedback), I knocked on the SVP's door. Let me say, he was blown away. He asked me to stay after work so we could talk more. When 6 PM rolled around, I was the only one in the office and in walks the CEO, CFO, and CMO of the company. My office! My VP says, "Rich, show them what you showed me this morning." So I walked them through it.
Cutting to the chase:
- They loved the idea that it was infinitely modifiable.
- They canceled the NYC agency project the next day.
- I received time, resources, and a budget to roll it out nationally.
- I then went on a nationwide sales training tour to roll it out (the most fun I ever had in business!)
I eventually received a promotion, an incredible raise, and won Chairman's award (10 out of 10,000) win it annually.
Hidden Secret? It was INITIATIVE. I didn't have to do what I did — I could've sat in my office and dutifully done my work.
But I didn't. I took a chance. I used my technical skills — I leveraged my relationships with colleagues — and I took a risk presenting it to the SVP of the department.
How are you taking INITIATIVE in what you do today? Have an idea? Make it reality. See an opening? Go for it. Most of the time, we are too tired, lazy or scared to take charge and change something. There is no special sauce to initiative — you just have to make up your mind and do it.
So Go Do It.
Go For It. NOW.