I’ve done a lot of crazy things in my career to get ahead, and to be honest, I don’t regret any of them. Sure not all my crazy tactics worked, but I definitely owe a large part of my career success to the risky moves I took when I was just starting out.
My favorite risk is not one that I share often, but if I hadn’t done it, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today.
It was 2009 and I had been staff at my production company for almost six years, which is a lifetime in television production. I wanted to branch out and take the leap into freelance as a producer, director, and writer in the entertainment industry, but I knew I had some skills to brush up on.
I found a job posting that perfectly blended my experience working with HGTV and storytelling—except for the fact that it demanded I knew a certain editing program, which I didn’t. Like, at all.
Like, at all.
But, being desperate to get my name out there and further out in my career, I applied for the position, got the interview and proceeded to tell a few white lies:
“Yeah, I’ve totally used that program,” translation = touched it once, “But it’s been a while so I might be a little rusty on it.” translation = not since college 6 years ago.
To my surprise, they offered me the job and then I proceeded to spend the ENTIRE weekend getting my hands on everything I could to study up on so that come Monday, I would know that program inside and out. I spent hours at the library reading books on it, took an online course, and called up all my editor/writer friends and begged them to give me a tutorial. I even had an old coworker on standby should I need to phone for help come Monday.
In the end, I found that once I started the new job, all I needed to know was how to turn the program on and off and few minor things like pressing forward, rewind, and play.
See, had I not told that little white lie, had I not studied my tail off for the entire weekend, and had I not had the confidence that I was a good storyteller—regardless of the medium—I would have never had the opportunities that came from that job, which have included both of my direct bosses hiring and recommending me on other jobs that kept me working non-stop in the industry for years.
I have always been a firm believer in knowing what you want and going after it, and while there are definitely times you will (I have!) fall on your face, keeping the following in mind will help you move through your professional and personal life much smoother:
Be Unapologetic in What You Want
My whole life people have told me, “You’re never around, you work too much!” When I went back to school to add coaching to my skill set, people wondered why I would want to add more to my plate; I already had a great career.
It used to bother me in the beginning because what people weren’t seeing was my bigger picture.
I had a dream of being 100% in control of my career. I craved being able to help people with their creative process while still having my own. I was on a mission to create a career that worked for me, not the other way around.
It took me having to let those comments roll off my back and put my head down to do the work to get me where I’m at today. Had I listened to all the naysayers, I wouldn’t be living this life I’ve been able to create for myself.
People will freely share their opinions, ideas, and advice on what you should be doing and how you can be doing it better, but only you know what works for you.
“No” Doesn’t Mean “Never”
Look, I work in the land of rejection, and I hate to tell you that despite hearing it as much as I have, it doesn’t make it any easier. The thing to remember is no is only temporary. Even though when you hear no, it can feel like you’re hearing never, it just means not right now.
Find a way to remind yourself that there is always another way to get something done.
My rule of thumb is if someone slams the front door in your face, try the back door. Try the window. Climb the roof and go through the attic. Just don’t let someone saying no stop you.
When I was first started out in my career, I would do anything asked of me.
You want me to work seven days this week? Sure!
Need me to have my phone on just in case you want to hash something out at 10pm? Done!
Don’t schedule that holiday vacation to see my family because we might have a shoot pop up? Will do.
It took a quarter-life crisis meltdown for me to realize that the boundaries I was setting in my life weren’t for me, they were for work. Everything I did was to the benefit of my career. And if we don’t set boundaries for ourselves, inevitably, someone or something will set them for us.
Here’s the thing, not accepting no as the final answer and setting clear boundaries are going to rub some people the wrong way, but being unapologetic about what you want and going after it is what it takes to truly be boss.