Meredith was burned out after nearly a decade in a toxic corporate culture. She wanted out, and she wanted a fresh start in a new company that would challenge and nurture her, and allow her to contribute meaningfully in a leadership role.
She had an interview lined up, and she was excited for it. My job was to help her be prepared and nail it.
Toward the end of our first hour together, after working on some stories to use in her answers, I asked her:
“What questions do you want to ask them?”
“I don’t really have any major questions; the job posting was pretty clear, and it’s too soon to discuss salary and stuff,” she shrugged.
“Then you’ll never get the job,” I said. She looked at me, surprised.
“An interview is a two-way street: you’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you. You’re not just crossing your fingers and hoping to be picked; you need to make sure that you even WANT to be there.
“Remember: you don’t HAVE to take the job even if they offer it to you – and that’s powerful leverage. You’re checking to make sure they’re good enough for you too.”
She stared at me in silence for a moment, before saying (almost more to herself than to me), “Oh my gosh, I’ve been so fixated on just wanting to get out of my current situation ASAP, I completely forgot that I have agency here too. I have a choice.”
“Right,” I said. “It’s not about whether or not you’re lucky enough to get picked. The question is, who’s lucky to have whom? And ideally, you’re both feeling like the lucky one to be able to work with the other!”
Nobody understands that two-way street better than Nathan Beckord, CEO of both Founder Suite and Funding Stack, two digital platforms focusing on startup investment capital: the first is for the founders looking to raise funds, and the second is for the venture capitalists and the investor community.
This week on the Speaking to Influence podcast, Nathan and I address the grueling challenges in fundraising for startups, the majority of whom hear “No” dozens or even hundreds of times before hearing a Yes.
With those odds, it’s easy to see how many startup founders might slide into the mindset of hoping they just “get lucky” eventually. And when that’s the mindset, the investor smells the desperation in the air, which is a recipe for rejection for sure.
(By the way – even if you’re not a startup founder, does any of this sound familiar??)
But Nathan throws a wrench in the works by sharing the five key criteria that investors look for in a founder, and how to showcase those qualities so that they indicate a founder’s potential for success. They are:
- Past accomplishments, and
- Effective communication
It's all about building a compelling narrative of success and momentum. Your journey so far isn't just a story; it's a testament to your potential for future greatness.
One other question that investors (or employers) bear in mind is what kind of working relationship they envision themselves having with the other person. Because the simple truth is that the right relationship – personal or professional, long- or short-term – can be utterly life changing.
And that’s exactly what Kevin Thompson loves to explore as the dynamic host of the video podcast, “Million Dollar Relationships.”
Did you ever read Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point? Among other things, he talks about the role of people he calls “connectors,” who seem to know everyone. Regardless of what kind of connection you’re looking for, telling the connector always seems to say, “Yes, I have someone I can introduce you to…”
On “Million Dollar Relationships,” I have the fun privilege of sharing the story of some of the people who have had the most profound impact on my professional life, including the person I credit for almost single-handedly redirecting me out of academia and a career as a professor and into the world of consulting, coaching and entrepreneurship 15 years ago.
And that’s a HUGE choice I feel lucky every day to have made!
There’s one other choice that will soon be upon us (and a smaller one I’ll invite you to make now.)
Many of you know that during presidential election seasons I do APOLITICAL analyses of the candidates’ performance during televised debates and town halls, using those events as real-time, live case studies of successful (and not-so-successful) leadership communication in action.
My goal is to identify actionable lessons, do’s and don’ts, that we can ALL learn from, regardless of whether they came from a candidate we’d vote for, or wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole. (Here are some of the analyses I’ve posted from past years, if you’re curious.)
Tomorrow night, Wednesday, August 23rd, is the first of the Republican primary debates, so Thursday I’ll share my take on who did well or not and why, regardless of whether or not I agree with their arguments.
If you’re curious, just watch your inbox on Thursday.
But politics – even apolitical analyses of political discourse – isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so if you don’t want to receive my breakdown of tomorrow’s event or similar future events, just reply to this email and say “Thanks, but no thanks re: debate analysis” and we’ll do our best to make sure it stays out of your inbox, while still ensuring you continue to get our regular Tuesday notes each week.
One thing is for sure: I truly feel lucky to connect with YOU each week – and I hope that you feel the same way too.