Here’s How to Make Your Own Luck

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One thing was certain: I was NOT dressed for a job interview.

It was early December, 1994, and I was at the Army-Navy football game at the old Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. My brother was a midshipman at the Naval Academy, and I was a senior at American University in DC, so this was a rare chance to meet up with him and my parents and have fun at the big game.

When it was over, I hopped on the Amtrak train to head back down to DC.

Over the next two hours or so, I couldn’t help but overhear the two men in front of me talking shop. It was clear they did something in government and international relations, which was my major, and I was in the market (and would have killed for) a spring internship on the Hill or a post-graduation job.

 

This was a perfect opportunity to introduce myself and see what was possible.

 

Except, of course, anyone who has been to a December football game knows the uniform: layers upon layers of sweatshirts, thermals, hats, scarves, mittens… whatever is needed to keep from freezing to death while watching the game. Oh yeah, and no makeup.

This was NOT the professional first impression I generally wanted to make.

But I had a choice to make, because in about 10 minutes the train was going to reach the station and I would never see them again.

As passengers started to get up to collect their things in the final minutes, I made my move.

“Excuse me, I couldn’t help but overhear part of your conversation about your work in (X). I’m a senior at American studying international relations. I just got back from a year abroad in Japan, and I was wondering if you knew of any openings for spring internships in your organization.”

The one man stared at me intently for a moment, then reached into his pocket and handed me a business card. He was a naval commander with the Department of Defense.

“You have chutzpah,” he said. “Give me a call.”

A week later we met for tea, and after a few more introductions, phone calls and interviews, I had an amazing internship with the US-Asia Environmental Partnership.

As the saying goes, luck is when preparation meets opportunity. Being in the right place at the right time brings opportunity, but we still have to recognize it when it shows up, and have the courage to go for it.

Someone else who lives by this philosophy is this week’s guest on the Speaking to Influence podcast, Yesi Morillo, SVP and advisor to the Hispanic and Latino Community at Citibank.

 

 

Yesi shared several stories of how she has actively leveraged seemingly little moments on the elevator to plant seeds that bloomed into amazing professional relationships that never would have been possible if she hadn’t recognized the opportunity and made the most of it.

How does she get ready for these moments?

Simple, she said: “You don’t get ready, you STAY ready!”

Yesi offered tons of great tips, one of which was keeping a little card in her wallet or phone case with whatever stats or information she thinks might be relevant in one of these serendipitous moments, so she always has her key numbers ready for quick reference when those moments arise.

In our interview, we also explored:

  • what it means to be an “employer of choice”
  • the differences between being mentored vs. being sponsored
  • inclusivity and allyship and how YOU can be a part of the solution
  • And more.

Listen to the full conversation here or watch the video on YouTube here.

Remember what the former NHL great Wayne Gretzky said: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Don’t miss your shot on gaining the inspiration waiting for you on this episode; tune in!

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