Why Saying “Yes!” Is the #1 Factor in Job Promotion

Today’s post is by Kristin Glenn of allofusrevolution.com.

She took the Vuitton wallet out of her Miu Miu purse and handed me the company credit card.

“Here, drive Louis to the groomers to have his hair done today. It’s summer, so he’s getting the ‘Miami’ poodle cut,” my boss instructed. She was a successful, young-looking 40-something with her own event production company, and I was her newly-hired peon for the summer.

I replied, “Sure, anything else to pick up on the way?” It was my usual response, a quick “yes ma’am, may I have another?”

That was how my summer began: driving the poodle to the groomer’s, going on wild goose chases for event materials, and spending hours reading how-to manuals for office electronics. I once spent an entire weekend in the New Orleans heat, washing the dirt off old hubcaps— all in the name of funky décor.

I was on-call at all times, yet somehow managed to be surprised by early morning phone calls: “Where did you file that proposal?” or “What time is my design guy coming over?” The hours were sporadic — sometimes not nearly enough and other times, 10 hour days.

I loathed it and loved it. I was the unimportant ‘nobody’ she couldn’t live without.

The summer inched along, and I quickly learned the trick to making her love me: always say “yes.” Even when asked the impossible, I said, “Of course!” and scurried off to figure out how to a) accomplish the physically impossible or b) create a hell of a back-up plan.

Sometimes I had to admit defeat, but I was already prepared for the next question: “Well, then who can do it?”

And that was the summer I realized the key to success is simply saying “yes.

I wasn’t the best at my job. My spreadsheet skills were rudimentary, it took me ages to format simple word documents, and there were sometimes holes in my research. For a college kid, I was what you’d expect — too shy to offer creative ideas and too inexperienced to give helpful suggestions. But I always turned up on time, acted professional, did my best, and somehow found a way to make things work.

I eventually started writing proposals and doing event planning paperwork. I remember the first time I was asked to sit in on a meeting. I worked in her home, alone sometimes, with a list of things to accomplish. And a year later, I left that job with invaluable resources and knowledge about my career of choice from a fashionable diva-esque mentor who truly appreciated what I had to contribute.

Employers care about experience and skill, but only to a degree. A resume will get you an interview, but it won’t get you a job, a raise, or even a pat on the back. What people really want is a “yes person”— someone who will do (almost) anything in the name of good business practice.

And it shows. It shows in a job interview and on the first day of work. So when you’re asked to install a program with no installation CD and then tie the boss’ shoes, make sure you’re one of those people who enthusiastically says, “yes!”

Before long, you’ll be at the top, laughing about the summer you spent watering plants and walking dogs.

Kristin Glenn

Kristin is a co-founder of the fair-trade fashion startup, All of Us Revolution. She and her business partner, Shannon, blog about their adventures importing fashion items from Central America and the reality of taking control of their lives post-college at allofusrevolution.com.