Rarely is a career made by one big event. Although it can be easily destroyed from one big event, as related in the previous chapters, a career is made day by day, through patterns established over time (As Jeff Bezos would say, trust is hard to gain, but easy to lose). How you deal with people, make decisions, work habits, strengths, and weaknesses, are what build your brand. There are the normal work transactions throughout the day, and then there are the transactions that deal with you and the impressions that you make. Even the small and mundane tasks throughout the day decide peoples impression of you.
This is why those who do not pay attention to the little things don’t see the gap between the reputation they think they have and the one they’re actually building. This is true in marriage as well. The boss is constantly keeping score, not just on the day of the game. As you go up the ladder, the little things take on even more significance. The competition at the top is narrower, so it is the little things that will distinguish you (at this level, everyone else is also equally smart and hard working).
Even before you arrive at work you will be confronted with decisions. What do you wear? What is your schedule for the day? What will you get for lunch? Think about these things consciously. Even on the commute to work, you will be building your brand. How do you treat the train conductor? The people who sit next to you on the public transit? The people that you carpool with? When you arrive at work, your interactions with the security and front desk also build your brand. Don’t consider people in the peripheral as unimportant. How you treat others is treated as evidence of your managerial abilities. Be on your guard, even during lunch. Others may take what you say and use it against you. Don’t complain about your job or other colleagues. If you complain about your manager, it gives others permission to complain about you. Take care in how you treat subordinates. They can differentiate between an urgent request and a show of power.
3 types of meetings
The staff meeting is deceptively boring. Meetings are an important part of brand building, and staff meetings particularly so. The others in the room are whom you are going to be competing against when getting raises and promotions. In a staff meeting, the boss will be asking everyone for updates. Now is not the time to push for some new agenda or project and hog the spotlight. This is not the purpose of the meeting. Nor do you want to give out too much information that others could use against you. Keep things minimal, indicate you are making progress, and thank those who have helped you.
The staff meeting is also not the time to be picking a fight with others and pointing out flaws when they give their updates. The staff meeting is there to make the boss feel good, like the proud parent of a family, and not to see the kids fighting. You also don’t want to make a permanent enemy. Weaker fish will team up to take out a stronger competitor. If this person is actually bad, then nobody else will like them either, and they’ll eventually get managed out. But if they’re actually good, then attacking them is not good for your brand. Orgs prefer harmony, and demonstrating your value is better than confrontation.
Get something done meeting
Your role as the lead in a get-something-done meeting is to let the creative types dominate. If you stomp on people’s presentations or ideas, you will make a bad impression. Better to diplomatically shoot them down with code such as “I need to think about it”. Be a despot in these meetings so people stay focused, but not so much so that you crush the flow of ideas.
A combat meeting
This is the type of meeting where you are fighting for your career. An approval or budget meeting would be a prime example, as this dictates what you can get done. Anytime there is money involved, be prepared to fight. Just because something is logical does not mean it will be approved. Not only must you gather the data to support your case, you must know who is in the room – their power level, intelligence, and agenda. Be ready for sabotage. Be ready for self sabotage. Know when it is time to concede defeat. Know also when you have achieved victory – do not sell past the close.