Little Fish In A Big Pond | Darling Magazine

I love my job.

I work at an organization that is run by a group of killer top executives — professionals who took the road less traveled and invented a new way to drive. They’re idea people, well connected and inspiring, drawing excellence from everyone we work with.

But they’re not the only ones on the front lines of that cutting edge.

They’ve surrounded themselves with a group of innovative, driven 20-somethings eager for a chance to make their mark on the world. And that’s where I come in.

Hired three months ago, I now, on a regular basis, find myself sitting in meetings with people who frankly are decades beyond me in maturity and experience. I might as well have a fluffy pen and a dog in my purse with how much I look (and probably sound) like Elle Woods.

But there I am, in meetings with these top executives, listening to them throw out ideas with automatic speed and accuracy, when the room gets quiet and they look at me: “Stephanie… what do you think?” Yikes!

I’m learning from the best of the best, and although it sometimes feels like trial by fire, I’m learning quickly and am thankful to be invested in—especially in such an intentional way. I’m also incredibly lucky that along with throwing me into the deep end, they’ve also provided me with a guide on ‘how to swim.’ And that’s something that I’m excited to share with you.

Here are some tips on how to survive (and thrive) as a little fish in a really big pond…

1. Put yourself in their shoes. Think like your leadership. Learn to anticipate their wants and needs and expectations and worries. Taking the time to understand them will help you serve them better—you’ll be helping fight a downhill battle alongside the people who sign your paycheck. A win for them, and a win for you.

2. Come prepared. Standing in these executive shoes, you can also understand that executive leadership is busy. iPhones are buzzing, suitcases are always packed and efficiency is the name of the game. By going above and beyond in your preparation, you’ll be able to maximize the time you get with these important people and really impress them by demonstrating that you put in the time and know your stuff.

3. Ask good questions. Don’t try to pretend you have all of the answers. If you do, instead of demonstrating your competency, you’ll demonstrate your inexperience—and come across as a bit presumptuous (never an endearing trait). So humble yourself. Ask good questions. Be a sponge to your leadership, ready to glean anything and everything you can from their years of experience and maturity. They’ll appreciate your eagerness and humility and you’ll also learn a lot.

4. Bring a pen. Take notes during the meeting. Some leadership even like to have follow-up emails that include a summary of the meeting and the next steps that will be taken. That way they know that you understood what they wanted and they know what to look for from you next. You’ll be making their job easier, which makes your job easier!

5. Know your value. You are where you are for a reason. Someone believes in you, sees value in you and wants to help you develop your skills. So be confident. Although you have less experience, you do have some experience, even if it’s just in life. Sit confidently knowing that you’ve brought something to the table—even if it’s just a different set of eyes.

Image via A Well Traveled Woman

4 comments

  1. Stephanie, I like you’re humility. It mixes well with your work-ethic and godly ambition. That’s one reason we believe in you as we do.

  2. This is beautiful and spot on…now if I could impress this on more of my 40 something circle our world would work so much better! Thank you for your courage in sharing it. I know my own 20 something daughter experiences this herself in the corporate world!

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