Popular now is the saying “There is no there there.” According to Stackexchange: The original is from Gertrude Stein in a quote about her birthplace, Oakland CA. The meaning of the entire sentence is that she didn’t find a sense of place, a center, or anything substantial or important enough to warrant calling the town of Oakland some place by even a name. This statement got me thinking about a simple twist on the same word as it relates to a job choice.
If you accept a new opportunity, you must be able to answer the question. Is there a here here? If you can, then you might have something. The answer takes the form: Here is the here here.
The first here is a point in time
It’s now, 2017. You are at a stage in your life where you have made a decision to explore a new opportunity. People leave their current job six months to a year before they make the move. You’ve made the decision so the clock has started and the countdown has begun. Good luck because it will be a bumpy road. Navigating the job market and working your network to find that gem which gets you excited is hard work. Oh, and remember you have to hold down the fort at your current gig, so you don’t get shown the door. You have several balls to juggle but taking care how you manage your move is paramount.
The second here is identifying the opportunity
It is the most important of the three here’s. It’s the opportunity. The reason you get up in the morning. You join a company to do something or perform a function. The opportunity drives you and is what gets you thinking. Your thinking drives your activities, which in turn has an impact on the business. Is it a turn-around opportunity? A growth opportunity? A chance to build a function? I have done all three and prefer building and growth over scaling back for a turn-around. When a company has poor performance, and you are a senior leader, it can be scary. You’re sitting in the cockpit and staring at the ground as it accelerates toward you. Pull on the yoke and close your eyes. Growth and building something are like the arrival of spring. Longer days, warmer weather make us all feel good and being in a growing business does too. Rapid growth is so much fun you may often forget about many things that are important to you. I remember my wife saying to me once “even when you’re home, you’re not here.” That hurt but she was right. I was having a ball at my job at a small technology company. It was around the time that we closed two, multi-million dollar deals, on the same day. We had changed the trajectory of the business. I knew I would have a stream of commission dollars coming my way. I also understood that we had increased the valuation of the VC-backed company. It was the goal I had hoped for and worked so hard to meet. I realized the second here.
The third here is the company where the opportunity resides
Is it Snapchat, Betterment or a start-up (insert name). It might be Microsoft. You have identified the industry, sector and narrowed it down to the particular company. You have also determined the role, title, and your compensation. Here I am, Senior Vice President of Business Development at YouNameIt technology company. My compensation is X dollars, and my office is in Boston with global responsibilities. It is the place you have decided to hang your hat. You have agreed to become part of the company’s prevailing culture. It is super important you understand this. It will be a part of you and your personal brand for the rest of your career. We are all judged to some degree by where we work, so be careful. Think of the reputations ruined as a result of the financial crisis for those who worked on Wall Street. How about working for Volkswagen right now or Kmart? Strap in and welcome aboard.
Before you set out on your journey to find that next great opportunity, spend some time building a plan. You’ll want to understand where you are in your life and the conditions around you. It’s the point in time and your relation to those things which are vital to you. Next, work hard to identify that great opportunity which gets your blood flowing. Think about it and don’t settle. How many great opportunities are not realized by not sticking to it and accepting a lessor role? Join a reputable firm which has a solid culture and reputation in the marketplace. Work with people who are good at their jobs and who are good people when they aren’t working. This way you will be able to explain to someone else: Here is the here here.
My best, Chris
Originally posted on the Huffington Post