i am often on back-to-back calls with only the noon hour free leaving me little time to eat or gather myself before the next hour of inane chatter, accountability dodging, and rounds of stump the dummy. last week was no exception. on this particular day i dashed to my third conference call of the morning with a full bladder and an empty stomach. when the meeting ended a rare thing happened, like finding a 4-leaf clover rare. after listening to my tirade about the team of circus clowns, my colleague simply says, you’re in a great position. my antennae were wiggling and i knew where this was headed but with the innocence of a child, i asked, what do you mean? after some hesitation and clear discomfort the person says, you’re smart, you know what you’re doing…i’m not going to say it, i don’t want to offend you. i prod and the gates open. please don’t take offense, this is just the truth. you’re a woman and a minority. this company is starved for senior leaders with that profile and you have it. you’ll be a veep in no time. don’t leave.
i settle back in my chair. people don’t often reveal their thoughts so openly, usually such commentary is subtle, veiled, covert, but not in this case. i invited additional feedback and the person continued. you need a champion, not your current leader. find someone else. and then the individual listed possible candidates, offering ideas on how to approach these senior executives, and explained, all you need is one person to tap you as high potential/top talent and then… (gestures a rocket blasting off).
as i listened, i realized this is personal advice; this individual was sharing how they are managing their own career. we chat a bit further and i thank the person for the candid conversation and (unsolicited) advice. usually when someone gets too familiar, my SBF hackles go up and I begin to to think, why are you telling me this? where is this going? and then the still quiet voice inside me says, be still and know that i am GOD.
that chat was an unexpected gift, a divine appointment. it was also a page for the SBF handbook. when someone who doesn’t look like me shares rules of the game, i get my pen and pad and WRITE THEM DOWN. if that same someone wants to pass me a nugget of gold i make sure it’s not pyrite, thank them, and keep on mining. these individuals are rare. look for them. they create opportunities to make themselves visible. they deliver results for key influencers in the organization and when the time comes they float to the top like a helium balloon.