This week I was named the Alcatel-Lucent Cloud Fan of the Week. That’s nothing though, I ended up in Alcatel-Lucent’s (NYSE:ALU) lead video for their 2011 annual report. (I didn’t say anything, you just see my face.) I did not intend to do either of those things; it just happened. Or did it? Looking back, it wasn’t totally random. So I’m offering you my top 10 tips for having this kind of thing happen to you.
- Be female. Ok, for half of you, this just isn’t possible. Maybe you look diverse in some other way and you can play that up. I know one of the top reasons I ended up with my face in the video is because I am female, and the video featured only men talking, and no international company wants to look that un-diverse. They aren’t, by the way. This is one of the first Israeli R&D teams I’ve participated in that employs a developer named Islam. But when you photograph him, he looks just like all the other R&D guys, including how he dresses. You can’t put an arrow above his head saying “Arab.” I do want to make a point about this, though. I have heard people tell me they couldn’t go into certain professions or work environments because they would be the only one who is _____ and they would feel uncomfortable. Is it sometimes uncomfortable being the only female in the room? Yes. But I can bench press more than most of them. Everyone needs their defense mechanism.
- Dress appropriately. I always dress like I’m coming to the office when I’m coming to the office. Most of the team did not know in advance that the professional videographers were coming to film their weekly meeting. So when the videographers were looking for someone who looked both diverse and professional, my face showed up. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t even take my own advice. Just this week I ran into a friend at the mall. I was dressed in a freebie T-shirt with the arms ripped off, faded gym pants and my Vibram Five Fingers. I’d ridden my bicycle there so I was quite pungent indeed. I’m surprised my friend didn’t pretend she didn’t know me. If an attractive man had seen me and been able to somehow overlook my slovenly apparel, he would have been overwhelmed by my stench. Bottom line: dress and carry yourself in a way that invites good things. And bathe. Bathing helps.
- Be part of the team. As human beings, all of us have a tendency to think we don’t belong. Some of us feel we aren’t smart enough or pretty enough, or that our function on the team isn’t as important, or we said the wrong thing at that last meeting, or whatever. Everyone. Everyone, mark my words, feels they are in the wrong place on the team, at least some of the time. I’m a contractor at Alcatel-Lucent, not an internal worker, and I manage other contractors. I tell my reports to always show up for the weekly all-hands meetings, because if you don’t feel and act like part of the team, it negatively impacts your productivity. Getting along with people is crucial. Otherwise there wouldn’t be a team.
- Show up more. This is a corollary of being part of the team. I have taken customers’ overseas guests out to dinner, shown up at holiday parties, and gone to lunch with customers. I don’t charge for that time. It’s part of making sure my company and services are valued by my customers. It’s part of understanding my customers’ needs. People tend to tell more of the truth about what’s really going on with them and the company at lunch than in formal meetings. People tend to like you more if you hang with them. Guess whether I personally have had a meal with the social media manager of the ALU Cloud team. Precisely.
- Do outstanding work, all the time. This is plain, old-fashioned Napoleon Hill stuff. If you are given a job, do it exceedingly well, do it on time, and when appropriate, go that extra mile to make it even better. When there is a job nobody wants, step up to do it.
- Do people favors (within reason). I don’t understand people who say “Don’t ask me for favors.” Every single day, you should do at least one thing that helps someone else for free. It might be introducing someone to someone else. It might be giving your advice to someone. It might just be sharing someone’s work on Facebook. Every day. Do something for no reason other than that it’s the right thing to do.
- Be smart. If you are featured in a video, re-post it, tweet, it and promote it any other way possible.
- Be lucky. I know that sounds flip, but I am perfectly serious. Luck is important. I became aware of that when reading a book about startups; I think it was Accidental Empires that talked about luck as a huge factor in the success of startups. Luck will come to you if you do all of the above, but sometimes that is not enough. There are things you can do to acquire good luck. You know yourself, and if you don’t, ask a few people around you if they perceive you to be lucky or not. If you are not a “naturally” lucky person, and you want to be, I will now give you some very new-agey advice. You can change your luck by changing your perspective. Find a course or retreat that seems right for you, preferably something intensive, like 3-7 days where you learn to make a shift in your attitude, self-confidence, chakra, karma, or aura. This stuff works, so just do it. If that stuff is too new-agey for you, take up martial arts. Yes, I’m serious.
- Be persistent. I’ve been writing this blog for a long time, and it’s been mentioned by a few people with large followings, but it is by no means a popular blog. Just keep going, I say. If you are doing the right thing, and going in the right direction, pat yourself on the back and just keep up the good work.
That’s only 9 — please put the 10th tip for others in the comments below.
Link to the CloudBand Video here (Sorry, it is not available embedded.)