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Finding a Seat at the Table

Far too often in my career, I would take the advice of coworkers who advised me to “wait my turn” or to “take my time” because the C-level executives would never want to hear from someone who's only been at the company for a few months.

For years I thought this was how things were supposed to go until one day I decided to take a shot in the dark and sit down next to one of the company's VPs during lunch.

It was mind-blowing! He was engaging and asked me about myself, where I was from, we talked sports, he asked questions pertaining to just about everything except work. And as we continued to have our chats every couple of weeks or so the exchange of ideas and work concepts eventually became a normal part of the conversation.

When I eventually moved on to pursue a new opportunity with a different company I found the same advice being given by coworkers. “Wait my turn” and “take my time.” So I figured that I would try the same technique of approaching the VP of my division on my own time. And it was amazing to see that she was just as engaging as my previous VP.

Good companies don’t just hire parts to fill vacancies similar to a mechanic who orders parts to fix a car. They hire the best person for the position they need to be filled. And ideally that person will not only have the technical skills the position requires, but they will also have new ideas and the confidence to share those ideas so that the company can continue to evolve.

After all, in business, stagnation equals eventual death. So it is your responsibility to help move the company forward.

If you want a seat at the table you better be prepared to bring your own chair. But don’t be surprised when your voice is welcomed.

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