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Make An Impact By Being Different


I once sat in on a presentation about threats to the business model that supported the industry I was a part of at the time. One C-Suite leader was quoted as saying, “I’m not scared of the old guys. They are white guys like me -- I know how to handle them.” That leader humorously pointed to the ease with which business is done these days- in a world where more C-Suite leaders look like members of the same frat (and probably were). That homogeneity keeps business moving fast, but it also keeps it static, eliminating serious threats.

He acknowledged that the real threat to the industry are the newcomers that think in non-traditional ways and have unorthodox approaches to doing business. That is not something he learned how to cope with in his C-Suite frat.

One of my grad school buddies was hired as a finance analyst for a major sports company. While he knew the basics and was decently excited about finance, his real passion was basketball. In his first week there, he was circulated around the company to meet folks and learn about the business. He sat in on meetings and quickly realized that his executives had a great understanding of business but had a stale approach to marketing to young basketball fans like himself. As a new employee, he could and should have sat quietly and waited for the appropriate time to share his unique insights to the group. But he did the unorthodox- he seized the opportunity and spoke up. His executive leaders realized he had a competency they lacked and he was promoted in his first two weeks on job.

Frequently, corporate structures seem to imply assimilation is the only way to thrive. While there is undeniably a framework one must learn to work within, assimilating will only plateau your success. Those sitting at the “table” need unorthodox minds to deal with the new threats to the industry (also known as millennials like yourself). So instead of focusing all of your energy on how to learn the golfing ways of the business masters (I mean learn that too- it definitely doesn’t hurt), work on how to incorporate your unorthodox thinking into your day to day to drive the business, and most importantly your career, forward.

#CSuite #millennials #newjob #standingout #challengingideas #statusquo

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