“Keeping your eyes open for opportunity, even when you’re in a job you love, will put you in a better starting position when it’s truly time to move on.” — Misti Burmeister
Most of us spend more time with our co-workers than with our families, yet few ask the most important question before accepting a job, hiring a new employee, or taking on a business partner.
After nearly 10 years of running my own business, I recently had an epiphany: Working as a solo entrepreneur is not the best, most valuable way to leverage my talent. I enjoy working with others – inspiring one another and collaborating as a team. So I set out to discover my next career move.
While I had some clarity, I had more questions than anything. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do leadership development within a larger company, to partner up with a well-established firm, or to partner with others who have a similar passion but different skill sets. So I set up interviews with dozens of leaders around the globe, trusting that my path would become clearer as I began to move forward.
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received so far came from John Smith, chief evangelist officer at SPARC, a company known for its phenomenal culture. He said, “Don’t work with a jerk! Ask yourself, ‘Can I imagine enjoying spending time with this person?’”
The wisdom of his words became clear several nights ago, over dinner with a potential business partner. An hour into our meal, I found myself thinking, Why isn’t the waiter bringing our check? How much longer is this going to last? I remembered John’s words and knew I’d better pay attention.
Naturally, I was giving myself all kinds of pep talks to stay engaged with this talented man. He thinks differently than I do, processes more slowly, has very different life experiences, and has lived a great deal longer. And all of these qualities could be very beneficial in a business partner.
That said, the guy almost never smiles, maintains an incredibly serious look nearly 90 percent of the time, and when I asked what he does for fun that’s not work-related, he responded, “I’ve had enough fun in my life.”
Yikes! Fun is one of my top core values, and work/life balance is also pretty high on the list. So, while this guy would probably make a great business partner for someone else, I just don’t think he’s the right match for me.
I haven’t yet made a decision about my next career move. But I gotta say, the most helpful question I’ve asked myself is, “Can I imagine sharing loads of time with this person (or these people)?” Until I know the answer is “yes,” I’ll continue with my search.
Join the Conversation
What is the most insightful interview question you have either asked or been asked? And what traits or behaviors do you find most attractive in an employee, business partner or colleague?
Keeping it simple,
Misti Burmeister, best-selling author of From Boomers to Bloggers: Success Strategies Across Generations, Hidden Heroes and Power Suck.