How to Make Your Own Breaks: Use Chutzpah to Kill the Middleman
Today, I’m thinking about chutzpah. Just about everything I’ve accomplished has been the result of it. Chutzpah solves the old career catch-22: “How can I get experience if no one will give me a shot?”
You have to give yourself the shot.
– I backpacked alone across Thailand and India, meeting the love of my life who is now the father of my two children and a wonderful husband.
– I got representation for my first novel by pitching it to a famous poet whose wife was a budding literary agent. The chutzpah part here is that I was at their home giving them an estimate for relocating across the country.
– I landed the biggest sale ever for my employer, a residential moving company, by approaching commercial accounts—something I was clueless about until I immersed myself in the very different world of industrial transportation.
– I moved from transportation sales to driving an 18-wheel moving van across the country. I had to lie and tell the company financing my new truck that I had already a year of over-the-road experience. I also had to change companies because my employer told me that this intensely physical job, which also involved maneuvering a huge truck in small residential areas, was not one a woman could do well. At my new company I had the top safety record and the best customer service rating. I also got to spend two years being paid six figures to travel the country with my new husband.
– While driving truck, I hung out my shingle as a resume writer, building my business on my cell phone and via truck stop Wi-Fi connections. After two years, I went full time. I accepted the position of certification chair of the National Resume Writers’ Association, mentoring writers with much more experience than I had. Though I have no degree, I help people with MBAs and years of business experience to express themselves in writing.
Everyone I know who is successful has this kind of fake-it-till-you-make-it approach. And if you fake it, you’ll quickly come up to speed and be the real deal. If you are passionate enough to take a chance, you probably know more than you think. Perhaps it’s time to own that knowledge or special talent.
Though it’s been years since I moved to Los Angeles at the age of 20—another act of chutzpah—I still remember my tour of Universal Studios. The tour operator described how their relationship with Steven Spielberg began. He went on a tour just like the one I was enjoying, hopped off the tram, and set up shop in an empty office. By the time people realized he didn’t work there, they were so impressed that they let him stay.
Where could you apply a bit of hubris to make a leap in your career? To help you answer that question, I’d like to leave you with this quote from Seth Godin’s Poke the Box:
Imagine that the world had no middlemen, no publishers, no bosses, no HR folks, no one telling you what you couldn’t do.
If you lived in that world, what would you do?
Go. Do that.