Inspiration can happen anywhere. Even in a checkout line.
A recent shopping trip to Ulta resulted in me meeting a young woman by the name of Cora that I had to write about. It was a hat and no make up kind of day and I seemingly looked like any other regular customer (I mean I'm no Beyonce- only in my head). Cora however, thought otherwise, after she happened to strike up a conversation with me after ringing up my debit card. She immediately asked what I did for a living and once she found out my company helps people find jobs in tech she was relentless. So much so she even held up the line to get my contact information (sorry to whoever was behind me).
She explained that although she was currently working in retail, she had a degree in Communications and previous experience doing marketing and events. She turned me buying lipstick and hair products for into a full blown pitch - and I was in awe.
I consider myself to be a badass- never afraid to speak to anyone about anything- or put myself out there. But rarely do I come across people with that same spirit, and that day it showed up in the most unexpected place possible.
Cora understood the importance of making connections and how it plays into the bigger vision of accomplishing your career goals. She didn't care about her current job, she didn't care about inconveniencing other people , hell she didn't care if I had anything to do (luckily I had some free time on my hands). The only thing she cared about was shooting her shot.
And she did.
After what seemed like a 15 minute conversation, she went on to ask for my business card and promised to follow up.
I received an email the next day.
Here's a few things we all can learn from Cora:
1. Stay Ready
"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity"- Seneca
The more prepared you are, the luckier you get. I've found that most successful people (in whatever it is they do) are exceptionally prepared and constantly throwing themselves out there. They don't wait around for someone to give them a break and they don't complain when one passes them up. They know it's a numbers game, and the more times they shoot their shot, the more they'll win. Cora already knew what she would say if the opportunity arose where she met someone that could help her professionally. She also knew that she would probably never see me again and only had one chance of getting my information. Although I was just a customer in her line, she had created a perfect storm to make herself lucky. Without hesitation she was able to capitalize on the situation and turn it into a favorable outcome.
2. Ask and You Shall Receive
Cora was ready at the drop of a hat to pitch herself when she found out what I did; BUT the only way she could have done so was by asking questions! She heard my email address, saw my debit card, put two and two together and said- this is someone I need to connect with. She knew that by probing (even if it was uncomfortable), she would ultimately learn if I was someone that could be valuable to her and vice-versa. People forget that you never know who you're standing next to! This is why it's important to be nice (and not an asshole), but also why you should look up from your phone once in a while and actually talk to people. The best way to shoot your shot is by networking as much as possible and by asking for what you want!!! Cora could have rang me up and kept it moving- but there was a bigger purpose- her next opportunity.
3. Fuck"Playing by the Rules"
The most impressive thing about Cora was her IDGAF attitude about holding up the line. I'm sure there were a few angry customers thinking I'll never come back to this Ulta again but it was worth the risk. She even openly complained about her job AT HER JOB (which I don't recommend doing but hey- at least she was honest.) When you're bold you don't play by the rules- you create your own. You shy away from doing things how they "should be done" or how "they've always been done" to allow in a new perspective. Granted you should always be respectful and not do anything harmful/illegal, but going against the grain a bit won't hurt you- in fact it may help you. Sometimes you have to risk it all to win it all. When your career is on the line it's always worth it.
Let this anecdote motivate you to be more like Cora.