Lanette burst into my office, excited to share about a gentleman who wanted to work for her company so much that he was willing to take any job. “At the beginning of my interview with him, Yao slogged through all the impressive jobs and experiences he’d had over the past 15 years,” Lanette shared. “But when the conversation turned to gaming, his whole face lit up and I was instantly infected with his enthusiasm.” And infected she was; she was positively glowing with enthusiasm.
Here’s the situation: Yao had an incredible résumé with plenty of experience in leadership and management roles, but zero experience in the gaming industry. Still, his excitement and consistent probing over the previous two years finally landed him an interview for a low-level job within the company. Unlike any interviewees Lanette had met with in the past, he came dressed in an impressive suit, almost as if he was preparing to interview for a job at a highly-acclaimed security company (which just so happens to be the industry he was leaving).
Yao was not the only candidate for this job. Jeff, his competition, had more than six years experience in the gaming industry, understood the responsibilities of the position and even had a relationship with one of the company’s high-level executives. But Yao had played every MMO (massive multi-player online) game in the history of MMOs. “And he loves games so much that he’s willing to take any job within the industry,” Lanette told me. In fact, Yao had told the head of the studio, “I’ll take the receptionist job. I just love games and want to help makes yours a huge success.” Those are the words that got him the interview with Lanette in the first place.
“Let’s see,” she said to me, kicking her chair back. “Do I hire someone with experience in the industry, but perceivably little enthusiasm? Or do I take a chance on Yao and let him get his foot in the industry?”
The answer was clear. She, and the interview team, opted for Yao, trusting he could learn what he needed to be successful. But his positive attitude, something that is almost impossible to teach anyone, was the bigger asset. “That kind of enthusiasm is valuable,” Lanette explained to me. “It helps keep everyone excited to be part of something that is obviously so cool. If he’s that excited, then clearly I need to remember how fortunate I am to work in this exciting industry.”
Sure, Yao took a job well below his abilities – and a huge pay cut. He didn’t care. He only cared about getting the opportunity to help make this MMO a raving success, potentially setting him up for a stellar career in the industry he’s so passionate about. His eye was off his ego and centered squarely on his mission.
Are you that enthusiastic about the job you’re applying for? How about the job you’re fortunate enough to be in now? If not, what job or industry would get you that excited? Regardless of your age or experience, what job would make you passionate enough to start at the very lowest level just to get your foot in the door? Companies need and want people with this level of excitement about their jobs and organizations. Here are some questions to ask yourself to discover whether you’ve got enough passion to propel you up the corporate ladder:
1. What do you enjoy doing or talking about so much that you’d do it even if you weren’t getting paid?
2. What experiences do you want to gain? And what sorts of companies and jobs would provide them?
3. What organization would you love to work for?
4. What are you willing to give up in order to gain the opportunities that can take you where you really want to be?
Two years later, Yao is now getting the opportunity that lit up his life, that filled him with so much passion he was willing to do anything to get it. Where do you want to be in two years – doing the same old thing (maybe in a bigger office or with a more impressive title), the thing that makes you dread getting out of bed in the morning? Or, working in or toward the job of your dreams? The choice is yours.
Offered with Respect, Misti Burmeister, best-selling author, “from Boomers to Bloggers: Success Strategies Across Generations“