Time. Talent. And Magic.

After 10 years in one job (sales and marketing in medical devices), and 10 years in another (sales/marketing/biz dev/consulting with a software provider for pharma), I ventured out on my own. That was over three years ago; Chris Brogan hadn’t yet co-written Trust Agents, but in fact, the business model was a “make your own game” approach as a client/vendor matchmaker, built on networking.

So what was I doing for the 20 years before that? Setting the table.

I wasn’t ready to be an entrepreneur out of the gate. There was raw talent there, but it needed a long period of refining through experience. Most everybody has an area or two of serious talent – but for many of us, it takes years of exercising and honing those abilities before you are ready for new levels of influence and opportunities, including going out on your own as an entrepreneur.

In the meantime, you have to look at your current jobs as setting the table for better things ahead.

Now I absolutely rejoice when young people work their talents and their opportunities quickly and skillfully, moving through a much shorter preparation curve and rapidly launching entrepreneurial endeavors. People like Scott Bradley, Sarah Evans, Kirsten Wright. I love seeing that because these folks will shape the future. But for many, the trajectory upward is going to be slower, and sometimes less direct.

magic_dustJust be sure you’re setting your table. Specifically:

    1. Only move into and stay in positions that will challenge and grow your skills. Stagnation for a paycheck is not a luxury you can afford.
    2. Do such a good job that your employer and co-workers hate to see you go, and can only say good things about you. Leave a very sweet reputation aroma in your wake.
    3. Network. Constantly. On-line and off-line. It is very likely that your next opportunity will come from that extended “family” of supporters.

At the right time, the “magic” will occur (by magic, I actually mean providence, but some prefer to believe in luck or chance, so we’ll Harry Potter it for now and just say “magic” as a catch-all!). You’ll be restless in your current position, ready for something new, and a confluence of events and people will occur such that a new challenge is opened up. Sometimes you’ve strategically pulled levers to help make it happen, but often it’s the wonderful serendipity of being a networked person who is well-regarded and worthy of the next step.

It’s very common, in your late 20′s, 30′s, and 40′s to feel restless in your professional development. Keep honing your talent. Keep putting in productive time. Keep setting the table. And keep your eyes open for the magic!

Update: And, as Brogan would say here and here, there’s no overnight success!

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About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

6 Responses to Time. Talent. And Magic.

  1. Thanks for including me in the post! You are right on with your thoughts on how to properly prepare yourself for the future, whatever that will hold. :)

    And I definitely love the idea of a little Harry Potter magic behind me…

  2. Amy Fitch says:

    Steve,
    I read this post this morning, thought about it, came back to it for a second, and third, and fourth read- each time taking something new from what you’ve written. When our chance to go out on our own arrived, we had no idea that the economy would soon turn upside down, and that our colleagues in the corporations we worked for would have their career choices made for them via pink slip. We are much younger than most of the entrepreneurs we know, and have 4 young children to consider. But there was this undeniable feeling between us that this was our time. You diplomatically called it “Magic” but noted (and rightfully so) that some of call it “Providence.”
    My husband has a Robert Kennedy quote on his desk that has defined our past few years, “Those who dare to fail miserably, can achieve greatly.” So along with time, talent and magic…it also takes courage. Thank you for another brilliant post. We’ve printed this one out and posted it on the refrigerator, lest we forget that we are not alone.

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  6. Steve,

    Thanks for including me in this post. I really appreciate it!

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