The hardest part of being human in the workplace is other humans. These modern day open office plans are like the worst cliques of middle school combined with library rules. Leaving you no more likely to casually collide in a brilliant beautiful mind’s meeting of the minds with a colleague than you are to share a toothbrush with those Doritos and canned sardines eating mutherfuckers. But I digress. As we’d like to think we left the worst of high school in 90210 but alas, the cool factor often eludes you despite the numerous academic awards to the contrary.
So, in the 30 something version of 16 Candles, how do you claim your rightful glory? Let’s be serious, you don’t want $, rewards or an “At a boy”. You yearn for the glory of being known as the master of your domain, where ever some fool may dare whisper your name...with the appropriate amount of awe...preferably without you being required to be present.
Step 1 - Claim your glory.
Claiming your glory is a simple matter of taking credit for your work. How do you that? A simple recommendation:
Raise your hand in meetings. When I worked at Fannie Mae I would raise my hand at least once in each meeting. Typically 10-15 minutes in. I made it a point to raise my hand even when I didn’t have a question. This forced me to do two things: 1) Actively listen 2) Seek clarification or details on anything I didn’t 100% understand. Raising my hand, even if it wasn’t time for questions worked wonders because it turned out that if I had a question or needed clarity so did 50% of the room. The other half wasn’t listening but all tuned back in when I asked the question.
Not sure what to ask? Try these on at any meeting you’re in:
- How long is this estimated to last and when do you really think it’ll be done?
- Who is leading this project/initiative and who is the backup?
- How can I help?
- What effect will this have on morale?
The beauty of those questions is it doesn’t matter what the meeting is, they work. Just try them.
I know you’re asking, “How the fuck does this help me claim my work?” If you become known as a person who asks good questions, soon leadership and executives will call on you out of the blue. Can’t get on your CEOs calendar? (Mainly because it’s better guarded than Presidential Elections) Ask him or her a question at a town hall, on their blog or during an all hands meeting. Nine out of ten times you’ll get a “I’ll follow up with you” from them or you can say, “Thanks for the info. I’ll keep track of this and follow up with you before the next town hall”. Sure as shit their chief of staff or someone from their office will write down to prep an answer/response. By the time you ask the third question, the CEO will remember your name and by your meeting/town hall will make a joke, “Ok, does anyone other than (insert your name) have a question? I’m kidding. I’m kidding. (Insert your name) What question do you have?” Executives love having this as an option because it keeps presentations flowing naturally and someone from his Communications team specifically coached him on organic interactions.
So how does this help you get credit for your work? The basics of office politics is that credit for your work is only stolen/taken if that thievin’ ass kisser Todd, Brett, Jason, Janet or April (anyone with those names has a 98% higher chance of being a bootlicking prick) feels they can do it and get away with it. They only feel they can get away with it, if they’re confident you have no allies higher up in the food chain. Because you can always prove, empirically, in emails and blood, sweat and tears that it’s your work. What matters is if anyone will care, that it’s your work. You know who cares if it’s your work? Other than you that is. People who know you. People who you’ve built rapport with. People who may even like or respect you. DYK - people can’t respect you (or your work product) if they don’t know that you even exist?
Claim your glory by raising your hand.
Step 2 - Have thoughts? Write them down and share them.
There is nothing more powerful than the written word. Do you have dreams? Want to bring them to life? Want to add power to your dreams? Write them down. The moment you write your dreams down the odds of them becoming real increases by a lifetime. As once you write down your dreams, you’ll start to plan on how to achieve them. How is this true? Because the first step to succeeding is defining what success means to you. Write down your dreams, it’s literally the first step to being successful.
Oh yeah, and your thoughts. Write down your thoughts as well. Again, nothing more powerful than the written word. Add power to your thoughts by writing them down and sharing them. You can’t be a leader without being a thought leader too. You know who follows your thoughts? People who can read them.
Step 3 - Put on your Viking hat.
Take the questions you’ve been asking and the thoughts you’ve been writing down and make a 5 minute video on them. It doesn’t need to be perfect. Just done. Do it on your laptop. Use your cell phone. In your kitchen, in the back of an uber pretty much anywhere except your bathroom. That level of engagement comes later.
Your Viking hat gives you the power and freedom to roll your shoulders back, stick out your chest, look directly at the camera and open your mouth. What comes out of it? Only a representation of you. So try to make it real. By real I don’t mean perfect; the correct lighting, spending thousands on sound equipment or hours getting your hair and makeup done. I mean real like when you ask a 3 year old what the meaning of life is. Just speak honestly. Start off with, “I feel...” and then tell people how you feel about whatever is on your mind.
- “I feel...I’m lonely. Even though I have so many friends and family so physically close to me.”
- “I feel...that the United States as a country, is...”
- “I feel...that data privacy is important because...”
- “I feel...as lost as a butterfly in a hurricane.”
- “I feel fucking great!”
- “I feel that my job...”
Practice on video. Then share it. Post it on Facebook, LinkedIn or just print out a copy and put it on your office wall or on a lamp post 10 blocks from your house.
Start down this journey, Viking hat on your head, exploring and sharing how you feel about whatever it is that you feel and you’ll discover a few things. A few things about yourself, your friends and people you’ve never meet who feel the same exact way as you.
It may also lead you to feel more comfortable in your skin. More comfortable being you. More confident being yourself. Once that happens, taking your Viking hat to work. Try not to use your new super power to be a dick. That will make others feel bad. And only I want to do that.
My name is Samson Williams. I feel your true potential can’t ever be discovered or claimed in the audience if you don’t ever stand up, ask a question and be recognized as existing. How do you feel about this?
About the author
My name is Samson. I’m an Adjunct Professor at Univ of New Hampshire School of Law, human and an anthropologist at Axes and Eggs, a Washington, DC based Think Tank and digital advisor. If you like what you read, share it! If you disagree, share what you know or how you feel in the comment section below. Feel free to hit me up on Twitter or Instagram @HustleFundBaby or follow me on LinkedIn. Finally, I would say thoughts are my own but I probably stole them from a woman.