$10 Investment Changed My Career
Like most corporate employees, my management perceived me as just another average employee. And believe me, the notorious “average employee” comes with all the perks, below average raises, below average reviews, and below average opportunity for advancement. I’d do my best to show up on time, complete my projects on time, ensured I was always in corporate compliance, avoided the typical water cooler talk that kills productivity. I remember spending hours ensuring all my ducks were in a row for my annual review, only to have it all thrown out the window as I received my less than stellar review. After 10 minutes of “you suck at your job” and then having to sign the corporate paperwork saying I received my review, I not only felt defeated, I was confused.
And guess how I was rewarded for all this hard work? Yep, I wasn’t. I think I worked at the place for over a year before my boss even knew my name. I really can’t blame my boss, because I didn’t do anything to stand out. Performance alone in today’s corporate environment isn’t enough. So I read a couple self help books and learned that in terms of career success being “liked” or “fun to be around” almost always outperforms being good at your job.
So I took $10 out of my next paycheck and decided that I hated my boss, and one of the easiest digs I could make was buying a San Francisco Giants Lanyard. How was this a Dig? My Boss was a huge Dodgers fan, his office was decked out with Dodgers Memorabilia. I remember sitting in my car before work asking myself if I was really ready to go this far. It was a resounding “YEEESSSSSS!” and I proudly walked into work wearing my SF Giants lanyard. Within an hour of being at work something happened that I never experienced in the 3 years I had been employed. My boss talked to me, well it was probably at me, but my $10 lanyard had sparked conversation, and to my surprise this continued. Not everyday, but every time we passed in the Hallway. I had created an eternal conversation with someone directly involved in my career success.
The weird part is, this visibility not only got me noticed in the hallway but my work received extra attention. And good work that goes unnoticed isn’t good work, but good work that get’s extra attention, becomes extra good. It was as if I hit a switch, my reviews, my raises, my projects assignments all changed. I’m certain I deserve a lot of the accolades for this success, but I can’t seem to forget how the $10 Giants lanyard wasn’t the turning point.