When I was not long out of college, I landed what I consider to be my first real job. I didn’t have much experience in anything other than tourism, really. I had bounced around from opportunity to opportunity without any real plan or focus in my life. I had been a cave guide seasonally for the last few years. I had done some outdoor theater acting. Then spent some time in construction. I tried my hand at multi-level marketing. I worked a graveyard shift in a box factory. One of my friends (thanks Barb!) suggested I should apply for an open position with a headhunting firm she was working with at the time. I interviewed. I got the job.
Now, you might think this is going to be a story about how I went on to be wildly successful as a high-tech headhunter (that’s what they called themselves). Books, covers, & all that – this would be an incorrect assumption. In truth, at that particular job, I failed miserably. I never made a placement. Not one. I may not have been the worst recruiter ever, but I would give anyone a run for their money in the department. I did some good things while I was there, but none translated into what really matters for a company. I didn’t help the bottom line.
I did, however, learn how to think like someone who is successful. I learned to think like someone who expects success. I learned to sit for 30 minutes at the beginning of my day & make a plan. To write it down in my planner. Something that became such a habit for me I now have incorporated into my thought process the night before & make a mental plan for each coming day. I learned habits of people who are highly successful from highly successful people. The 6 months I spent there were the most valuable I spent at any company – before or since. Big thanks to John O’Keefe for giving me a chance.
My time with O’Keefe & Associates was at the beginning of the World Wide Web’s adoption by the masses. The WWW has vastly changed the way headhunters do business (like it has for almost every other industry). Back then, the number one metric you could control to be successful was time on the phone. The more time you spent talking to people the greater your chance of being successful. It was also the number one metric I was failing. I would do everything BUT call & talk to people. I would stare at lists of candidates. I would construct strategy to be used with hiring managers. Then, if I got someone on the phone I liked talking to I would draw it out so my phone time hours would look better. I needed to get my phone time up or I wouldn’t make it as a recruiter. To help me remember the outcome I wanted, I made a sign I taped to my computer monitor. It was the length of the monitor. It read:
ACTION = INCOME
The owner came in & saw it, and made a point to tell me how much he loved it. I probably should have started writing for a greeting card company right then. When I look back at this episode in my life, I realize how true this statement is, even if it is a bit short-sighted. It should have read:
ACTION = SUCCESS
Because I tried a new job doing something that, at the time, I didn’t even know was a job, I learned an incredible amount of valuable knowledge. Because I took action, I inadvertently set myself up for success in the years to come. Because I took action, even though that very action ended up in my failure as a headhunter, I would be able to grab success later because of the skills I learned.
The most important key is always action. I’ve forgotten it over the years. But a quote from Marie Forleo reminded me the other day.
Clarity comes from action not from thought – Marie Forleo
What happens when you take action will clarify your direction, decisions, & success. Not taking action is the one thing which guarantees our long term failure. What can you do right now to take action in your life? Is there an action you know you need to take? I challenge you dragons, take action because action = success.