Becoming a Human Enterprise One Talent at a Time

The days of the pretty gold watch and the nice retirement package still exist – the world has just moved on from that idea being the “Mecca” of career achievements and destinations. I can recall when I moved on from my first company to my 2nd after college. My mom with her infinite wisdom was so fearful of the failure that may have been waiting on me behind Door #2. In her mind, the job I acquired at 21 years old was one I should keep until I retired – of course moving up the ranks…but always with the same employer.

I’m a Tween

Funny to admit that I’m a “tween” but it is true – I’m a Generational Tween. Given the timing of my birth in relation to the generation cut offs, I am a Generation X-er, but I have Baby Boomer and Millenial tendencies (smile). Yes I’m all of those qualities and then some so Generation X is not quite good enough to describe me. I was raised for almost ten years as an only child so I adopted baby boomer characteristics. When the people around you tell you that hard work is an important quality – you listen. So I absorbed not only work ethics, but the music and culture of baby boomers. Pretty funny to see a 7-year old know all the words to every song made by the Four Tops, Temptations, and Supremes but there I was groovin’! As life moved along, I was sort of like Benjamin Buttons learning to be younger in my life – and crazy thing I loved both! I saw the value in hard work and the intelligence of staying on-trend or ahead of trend in technology and in my career.

Moves Had to Be Made

I saw very early on that while I could climb the corporate ladder, the rungs were long, there were many people on the ladder, and oh yes, there were rules for promotion that had very little to do with talent. The Baby Boomer in me said, not on my watch would I let my talent be in a holding pattern for unwritten rules that everyone somehow accepted. The Millenial in me directed the path that to move up I needed to switch things up. And yes the Generation X-er in me said, you are your own person – don’t let others define your path when you’ve been mastering your talent.

Movement Meant Growth

When you switch jobs it is inevitable that you will be exposed to and learn new things. I embraced that 1000%. Each time I grew, I knew that I became more marketable for the next opportunity. The Millenial in me liked choices – so I had to give myself options by “leveling up”. Job #2 – Going from Insurance Claims & Sales to Insurance services I learned the technology side of the industry. Blessed with an amazing Vice President to report to, I had new life in the insurance industry – I was an adjuster, licensed as a sales agent, an insurance educator, and technical support for user interface, training, and analytics – all by 26 years old! Had I stayed at my original job out of college. I would have more than likely remained in the sales education group with many people ahead of me for growth and limited opportunities for movement. Score one for me, the leap of faith was right.

Multiple Talents Can Be Confusing

To put this bluntly – for “simple” or “single-talented” people – the idea that one person could possess vast knowledge and have the ability to execute well is baffling to them. It is also a scary prospect if those are the same people with decision making power and control in the hiring/management function. I recall an interview for my 3rd job out of college where an IT manager questioned the fact that I could possibly know SQL statements. Yes it was on my resume and guess what folks – I don’t lie on resumes for that very reason. He broke the form of the interview, handed me a dry erase marker and wanted me to walk over to the whiteboard and write a statement that produced a particular result in the database. The look on his face screamed, “I’ve got her”. I walked over to the board and paused because based on his request, there was more than one way to write the statement. During my brief pause, he interrupted me and said, “that’s okay if you don’t know how to do it”. I then figured out how low of impression he had of my skill and explained verbally that there were “two ways to write the statement based on his specs and I was grappling with the most efficient way to write the statement without knowledge of the database in the scenario”. He was floored. He remarked, “you do know SQL!” Of which I replied, “yes I worked with SQL statements everyday when my clients would request specialized data or reports” – Didn’t I show him! But I also showed myself that having multiple talents would take me far. I got the position because of my unique ability to understand the technical and user-side of technology. I would have never been in the running for the position had it not been for Job #2.

Learning and Executing Must be Continuous

The moment you stop is the moment your career declines. You may not see it immediately but the decline will catch up to you and rear it’s ugly head in multiple ways. The challenge is to look for the opportunities to learn and grow – and never tell yourself “no”. There will be so many people waiting in line to tell you “no” as your talents grow because quite honestly those “simple” and “single-talented” people despise the multi-talented few. That’s okay – don’t let them stop you from growing. Some people are meant to do one thing and others are meant to build a great enterprise.
Great enterprises are born from people who were smart enough to become a human enterprise first
This means you gain the additional degrees and certifications. It means you surround yourself with people who are smarter than you so that you can learn. It means that you build your life and your brand as multi-talented – a person with options and opportunities.
One of my favorite people is Roger Staubach. As his HR team courted me for a Director-level position in one of his real estate companies, the process seemed to stall out. I had known Roger for a while through shared friends in our networks. When he heard about the stalled process he asked me to send him a copy of my resume. I’ll never forget that Sunday when Roger called me and said, “Gosh Jenn you’ve done so much I would swear as if you’re much older”. HA! That was the best compliment that Roger could have ever given me – a nod to my hard work and ability to execute on my terms. With the support of Roger and my skillset and work – I went on to accept the Director position and do great things. Imagine if I had stayed at Job #1? It’s unlikely I would have even grown my personal network to the likes of a Roger Staubach. It’s unlikely I would have been able to gain the respect of a global firm at 33 years old – and execute well.
I trusted in my talents and let my work speak loudly – everyone gravitates to that person
The recurring theme was to trust myself, my proverbial “gut”, my goals, and aspirations. I never subscribed to “fake it till you make it” because I just put the work in and let the work uplift me – one talent at a time. If you look at my experience and see an unusual variety of talents, titles, and outcomes it is because I have been quietly building my human enterprise for the past half of my life – and I have no intentions of slowing down. Yes, everyday I have the “look out world here I come” attitude and that’s why I experience #Amazing things. The next time you run across a multi-talented person understand that they faced multiple growth moments and they embraced them!
BE AMAZING! #ShockTheWorld

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