[Career Story] Your Career Heroes

I have hundreds of people to thank for guiding me along in my career. Every hiring manager, mentor, and deep professional conversation helped. Within those hundreds, I have a casual Top 50 of those who really helped advance me along. After a recent chance conversation at a thrift store with one of my Top 4 career contributors, I wanted to celebrate their contributions, to maybe inspire you as well. Their names are obscured by the TMNT crew:

I’ll never forget my first job-shadowing assignment with “Donatello.” While doing the job, he didn’t give me any static for not knowing some intricacy. What a shock! During the time we worked on the same team, he was always the most willing to help me out through rookie jams, especially when we were severely short-staffed when I first joined the team. “Sorry I’m taking so long here, it’s not like I’m at the movies or something.” “I know[1,2].” I’ve worked with a few people with “Donatello’s” same intelligent patience since then and I try to emulate those encouraging job-shadowing outings when working with others.

If “Donatello” helped me the most at learning how to work smart, “Raphael” taught me how to work hard. Paraphrasing our conversations: Start each day with your easiest work to build momentum. After getting that good pace going, dive into your hardest work. When you get stuck, return to the easy work or ask for help. I’ve kept up that work ethic fortitude in writing and rowing, in addition to my professional career, and it’s helped me significantly. “Raphael” taught me, too, you just need to get out there and do the shit work, even if you temporarily tarnish your name along the way.

Though “Michelangelo” was feeling the stresses of pulling the weight for his lazy team when I joined, we became best work buds because – surprise! – I’m willing to put in the effort. Just tell me what to do, I’ll do it to the best of my ability, and I’ll report back with my results, shortcomings, or questions. We ended up hanging out more than job-shadow. “Michelangelo” found ways to encourage me to approach difficult customer situations with a smile. It’s like a psychological approach, where if you keep busy and take your mind off stress, you can typically have a relaxing conversation with any customer.

Ideally, we should always feel we’re able to have open and honest communication with our managers. Most felt the need to whip me into working a little faster. Few gave me the space I need to do their work without mistakes. “Leonardo,” in particular, was the most encouraging in my career development. His management attitude was always about finding the right work for the right person, if possible, rather than forcing the square peg through the round hole. Sometimes, it can’t be helped, and other times it’s necessary for growth or workload. However, when at all possible, “Leonardo” considered the employee first and foremost.

Who’s your TMNT team?


Sources: My professional career.

Quotes: [1,2] My memory of that conversation

Inspirations: Subconsciously, in title: Meeting With Remarkable Men.

Related: None

My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.