It’s All About Attitude

Two weeks ago, Linda and I were at the Outer Banks with my best friend Alan and his wife Jean. Their daughter, Sylvia, who will be 25 this year, was with us as well.

Sylvia works for McKinsey and Company, one of the world’s largest and most successful consulting firms. She started working for them a couple of years ago, not too long after graduating from college, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business as a combination Office Manager/Gal Friday/Meeting Planner/Go-fer.

Whatever needed to be done, Sylvia did. There was no task too small; making sure the kitchen was stocked with food; that there was adequate office supplies; light bookkeeping; even loading, emptying and cleaning out the dishwasher.

Now most college graduates would complain about this. You would probably hear: “I didn’t go to college for four years to clean out a dishwasher.” But what they need to understand is that graduating from college doesn’t really qualify you for anything. It just guarantees for the employer that you can read and write (although some of the writing I’ve seen from college grads would scare the hell out of you).

When a company like McKinsey gives you a shot at getting in the door with an entry level job, you do whatever they ask and do it well, since the best way to get noticed is through your attitude, and that’s what happened to Sylvia.

Just recently, two directors at McKinsey were looking for someone to assist them with the implementation and administration of training programs, including online training. One of the directors had been visiting Sylvia’s office, right outside of Boston, and had noticed how well she did her job. She subsequently told Sylvia’s boss, “We want Sylvia.”

When the director met with Sylvia to tell her about the promotion (and very nice raise), the first thing she told her was, “We love your attitude. You never once complained about cleaning out the dishwasher!”

It doesn’t matter how you start, just get started. Get your foot in the door. There are no small jobs, only small people with lousy attitudes that all the degrees in the world couldn’t overcome.

Remember, you never know who’s looking, you never know what they’re looking for and what will catch their eye. But more often than not your attitude is what’s going to stand out.

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