Real Key to Success: Invest in Yourself- Even if Your Employer Won’t
$2,450 was an awful lot of money in July of 1984. I had just started a new job after moving from Boston to Stamford, Connecticut. I had a bigger mortgage payment on a more expensive place than I had before and was adjusting to the daily commute to NYC for work. Money was flying out the door. The last thing I wanted to do was spend more.
My new employer didn't have computers - what they had was a word processing system. As a sales executive, my approach to managing my business was more methodical than most of my colleagues. I’ve got a strong engineering and organizational background so I think about process a lot. It’s just my DNA. I had reduced the sales process down to a series of steps, milestones, and client preferences. If I was disciplined about applying that information, I knew my results would be bigger than if I didn’t.
First and foremost, I wanted to track my clients and prospects who booked speakers. Since I couldn’t keep track of what I can't enter, I knew a real system was crucial to my success in this new role.
In the absence of trying to convince folks who just hired me that I was worth a big expenditure, I made a choice: who better for me to invest in – than ME! I went down to the computer store in the mall at Stamford and bought a new Apple lle. That single expensive decision was a big key to success for me going forward.
It’s almost laughable when you think about it; dot matrix printer and two 128K floppy disc drives which meant I had to have a dozen discs with my client list on it. CRAZY! But it worked. The system I created and continued to refine over the course of the years that followed, gave me a huge edge in performance. I accomplished an awful lot with what seems now like a pre-historic setup. It could slice and dice information and run cool Boolean logic equations, etc. – so I was in heaven.
In later years I’d encounter friends or co-workers who would complain that the company wouldn't pay for some training class, piece of gear, or software that would somehow make them more productive. I encouraged them to think of investing in themselves – who better to invest in?!
In the late 1990s, one colleague told me he asked the company to buy him a laptop – but they wouldn’t - so he would go without. That meant no after-hours work at home in an industry that doesn’t know from regular business hours. I thought it was stubborn and shortsighted. And it was. I urged him – invest in yourself. That person – who had great talent – let some arbitrary sense of right/wrong dictate his success. Silly.
Anyone who adopts the “invest in yourself” strategy realizes pretty quickly that it’s the right decision. It makes sense to take charge of your own career. You will not be sorry.
I started my own company at a young age (19) and if I didn’t buy it, I didn’t have it. I got used to the small business mindset and I carried that same attitude to my role as an employee in later years. Don’t wait for someone to give you something you need – get it yourself and prove how shortsighted they were not to support your request in the first place.
I guarantee you one thing – they will listen to you the next time you ask! Whether you’re working for a speakers bureau or any company, it’s sound advice and a bona fide key to success.
About Tony D'Amelio
Tony has spent his career putting talented people and audiences together, first in the music business and later representing the world's leading speakers. After concluding 27 years as Executive Vice President of the Washington Speakers Bureau, Tony launched D'Amelio Network, a boutique firm that manages the speaking activities of a select group of experts on business, management, politics and current events. Clients include: Mike Abrashoff, Geoff Colvin, Katty Kay, Polly LaBarre, Nicole Malachowski, David Meerman Scott, Bill Taylor, Bill Walton, and Bob Woodward.