How To Build A Career With A Smile

“Do you mind if I call you Pork Chop?”

This wasn’t how I envisioned the meeting going, but I was happy that it got weird.

I met with an office several years ago, on a fact-finding mission. I was there to get to know the team a little more and learn about any interference they were facing, real or perceived.

I held several round table discussions, with about 20 people in each session.

This office had grown quite a bit since my last visit, and there were plenty of new faces in that room.

When I dive right into business with a front-line audience, the feedback typically sucks. They clam up and question what my real motive might be.

For that reason, I start with an ice breaker to get the room to relax a bit.

I learn so much just by going around the room and interacting with the group one at a time.

Some are shy, and some are overly confident. You always have the loud mouth that wants to jump in on every conversation, speaking just to be heard.

There is always one who can’t even look up and make eye contact. I work hardest with this person to get them to warm up, usually by finding something we have in common as quickly as I can and doing more of the talking to let them off the hook.

When I meet with a room full of 20 people, only a few leave an impression on me.

By the end of the week, even less are on my mind as I might meet with 80–100 people in a week.

In this meeting, a new young lady was in the room, and I noticed her before she even spoke.

She couldn’t stop smiling like she had found her way into a lost pirate ship with a hidden treasure.

She took notes, nodded her head, laughed at jokes.

I can typically smell a phony, but she wasn’t giving me any of the signals. She was genuinely excited to be in this room.

We came to her, and the ice breaker was something along the lines of “What’s your favorite meal?”

She immediately jumped into her favorite way of preparing a pork chop, going into elaborate detail. When she was almost finished, she stopped and thought about it.

“I want to change that. There is another kind of pork chop I like to make with my boyfriend, with the bone in, spicy seasoning . . . “

It was hilarious. She was so passionate about pork chops.

Now, I also like pork chops. Maybe not enough to profess my love for them in front of an executive, but love nonetheless.

By the time she was done, I was cracking up. Not lost on me was that the rest of the room was cracking up and smiling.

This team genuinely liked her which told me that she was just good with people and not kissing up in a meeting.

This brings me back to my initial question.

“OF COURSE, you can call me Pork Chop. It would be an honor.”

And so, she became Pork Chop.

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Sizzling like her career

I wouldn’t remember the story as well if she had stunk at her job. As you can imagine, she was sensational.

That positive energy was terrific for the office. She became a person everyone gravitated toward because she had a way of putting you in a great mood.

One day, our office manager was dragging herself into the office on a Monday. She admitted that she hadn’t flipped the switch yet and was dreading her day of work.

As she is walking through the parking lot, she hears 90’s dance music jamming from a distance. This was 2015.

She walks toward the sound and sees Pork Chop sitting in her parked car, playing the air drums to Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.

The best part is that she wasn’t even embarrassed when she got caught rocking out. Pork-Chop just smiled and walked into the office with our manager, who was now in an incredible mood.

It turns out, Pork Chop liked to blast 90’s dance music every morning to get in the mood. It showed.

Pork-Chop went on to win just about every award she was eligible for at our annual meeting. Whenever she was announced, her office roared for her which tells you everything you need to know about what kind of teammate she was.

We even had some fun and played some 90’s dance music as her “walk-up music” on the way to the stage.

Regardless of your background, training or experience, the best way to quickly differentiate yourself in a new company is with your attitude.

Corporate offices are littered with negative people who drag themselves into the office every day. Jobs can be a grind, and everyone seems to be doing more than their situation calls for.

When someone like Pork Chop comes along, they breathe life into the office. She was quick to help, never complained and worked her tail off. Always, with a big smile.

In turn, her network was strong. When she was overwhelmed with work, the office jumped in to reciprocate and help her out. She got more done than everyone else because she had a team willing to do little favors for her when she was in a pinch.

The managers in her office loved her. Managing is often a thankless job and some days are spent listening to complaints and excuses all day.

When you get someone like this, you will do anything to keep them. Pork-Chop received the most significant pay increases and was quickly promoted into a leadership position. She earned it as one of those rare few who delivers extraordinary results with an incredibly positive attitude.

In any new role, you’ll be taking more than giving for a while. People need to show you how to do the job — the systems, software, politics, processes, etc.

The best thing you can do is be positive, nice, helpful and appreciative. Be like Pork Chop.

You can tell your mom she was right with all that advice you rolled your eyes at growing up.

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