How to Succeed in These Scary Times

A Simple Secret to Succeeding in Your Career

Be the change you wish to see in the world – Mahatma Gandhi

This well-known quote has been a source of inspiration to people around the world… that is before Covid-19 entered the picture.

Although the world needs that change more than ever, the nearly universal uncertainty and tension level have shifted that imperative from such a lofty notion to something more on people’s minds, which is how to just survive and make it through this global crisis.

With that in mind here is a more realistic and applicable mantra that may help you survive and even thrive:

Be a unique and effective solution that moneyed individuals and companies most need to solve an urgent and then critical problem that demands to be solved.

Let’s unpack that.

  1. Unique and effective solution – When you have a unique solution to someone else’s urgent and critical problem and are able to present that to them, three things are present. First, you know you have such a solution. Second, they know you have such a solution. Third, they know that you know you have such a solution. That is leverage and that makes you a premium offering as opposed to a commodity. What is also especially helpful about it being an urgent problem that needs solving, is that if you have a unique effective solution, you don’t have to convince them, you merely need to get the opportunity to meet with them.
  2. Moneyed individual and companies – This is obvious. They need to have the money to pay for such a solution unless they represent such a down the line opportunity for you or such a meaningful enterprise that success for you would have very little to do with money and much more to do with meaning.
  3. Urgent then critical problem – Critical is three to six months; urgent is this week. Critical can wait, urgent can’t. Urgent gets you in the door, critical keeps you there after the crisis that is fueling the urgency has passed.

Now drill down into what urgent and critical problems, you have unique effective solutions for and then identify what individuals and companies have those particular problems.

The next step, which I mentioned above is how to find a way to get in front of such individuals and/or decision makers at such companies. This of course can be the most challenging problem for you, i.e. how do you get the opportunity to be in front of the right individual to offer your unique and effective solution.

There are a number of ways to do that, but I’ll share one that might be worth your trying. Here are the steps:

  1. Identity as many people as you can that you have worked with or for and who were more than pleased with you and let you know that you were exceptional, as in beyond very good and even possibly excellent.
  2. Reach out to them and say in the Subject line of an email: “We worked together and I want to buy 15 minutes of your time.”  Hopefully they’ll be intrigued enough to respond.
  3. When they do, email them back: “Hello _____, I hope you’ll remember that we worked together on (mentioned the project) and unless you were merely being kind and polite, you seemed more than pleased with what I was able to get done for you and told me so. And if that was true, I would like to buy 15 minutes of your time.”
  4. Hopefully they will be further intrigued or at least curious to know more regarding what this is about.
  5. If they demonstrate that curiosity and ask you, reply with: “Yes, I want to buy 15 minutes of your time because this it to benefit me and I respect and value your time. I am looking for what to call what I do and how I do it that communicates something special about it so that it comes across as something uniquely valuable vs. just a commodity. And I wanted to talk to you about our work together to see if that helps me identify what made it special and maybe even unique to you, because to me, it was just about working hard to help you in any way I could.”
  6. Hopefully they will say “Yes” to your request and unless they’re unusually arrogant, they’ll also say, “Hey, I’m happy to speak to you for 15 minutes and no need to pay me.”
  7. Then when you have a chance to speak, bring up a project where you believe, you truly impressed them with your ability and skills.
  8. This process will have an interesting and positive psychological effect on them. First, you respected and valued their time enough to offer to pay for it. Second, you got them to relive and re-experience something very special and exceptional that you did with or for them. Third, they will not only remember how special that was, but they will relive their gratitude and appreciation to you for doing it.
  9. After you and they distill what made you special, ask them, “Can you suggest what industry, company or organization most urgently needs what I can get done for them, because then all I will need to do is find a way to connect with a decision maker at that place?”
  10. Hopefully they will be able to tell you, “You know what industry, company or organization most urgently needs what you do is ________.”
  11. Then thank them for everything they have just done for you and ask them, “What can I do to repay the generosity of your time and insight?”
  12. In all likelihood, they will say you don’t have to do anything, but in close to 25% of cases, they’re going to say, “Let me make a call.” And they will call to make an introduction to an individual they know who most urgently needs to solve a problem that you’re a great solution to.

Why is that? Again because you were so respectful of their time, you caused them to relive what was truly special about you and finally, you’ve given them the opportunity to actually do a favor for someone they know who has an urgent unsolved problem that you are the unique solution to.

And doing that will make them special to that person.

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