Posted by: LYF | November 12, 2009

Hustling

I don’t get emails often, but when I do they come in the following form.  “What’s the best way to…” or “How can I…”  Usually, it’s career advice.  People want to know the best way to get a job.  And the best advice I give, is to ask their close friends or relatives.  I think it’s a bit of a cop out on my part.  It’s not technically wrong, it’s just not helpful.  They’re the groups most people turn to first.  I should be telling people to hustle.

Like I just said, most e-mails I receive deal with tactics – tell me what to do.  You can find good examples of this on the mycasite message boards.

“As I said in another post of mine, I had interviews with a couple of the Big 4 that did not really work out. So I have started looking elsewhere.  For others who are in a similar situation…what is your game plan?

“Hi, I have interviewed with a firm just over two weeks now, however, I haven’t heard back any news neither positive nor negative. Would anyone be able to tell me whether this is customary practice? I was thinking at least they should let me know where I stand. I did follow-ups but no one responded. What advice do you have to give?”

In response to these questions I can only say the following.  There is no game plan and it doesn’t matter.  Even if I sat down and explained my “game plan” to people, they wouldn’t gain anything from it.  A person wouldn’t be able to say, “oh you did A, B, C, and D.  I’ll go and do that too.”  It wouldn’t be possible because there isn’t a step-by-step approach that can be replicated across similar situations.  That’s not hustle.  Hustling is putting yourself in the way of opportunities.  It’s making yourself available to them.  It’s not a how-to manual.  Some tactics may be similar, but that’s all they are, tactics.  Things that move you closer to a final goal.  The culmination of those things is the purpose of hustling and the vantage point you need to see from.  Top down, not bottom up.

Problems aren’t important.  Haven’t heard back from a firm?  It doesn’t matter.  If they are interested and want to hire you, they will.  If not, then they won’t and you’ll go searching for another firm.  No problems.  There are only situations that leave you feeling shitty and full of anxiety.  That’s about it.  If you’re faced with one them do the following – empathize with a friend, go to the gym and eat a steak.

I do lots of things to hustle.  I write this blog where I connect with you the reader.  A big hit tap goes out to Jeff who sent me a page long email of all the things I should do in Egypt.  His email was above and beyond anything I got from friends and family.  Hustling doesn’t always have to lead to professional opportunities.  This site also lets me connect with other bloggers.  Like the time Francine of re:theauditors was looking for someone to write full time, for an accounting publication in new york.  That’s an awesome opportunity.  Even though it wasn’t a good fit at the time, the opportunity was still there.

You have to hustle all the time.  You have to be conscious of the opportunities around you.  Two years ago, while on vacation in Cuba, I met a girl who worked at a big 4 firm.  Things got pretty awesome that week – all inclusive resorts and beaches will do that.  I told her my job situation and she offered to pass my resume along to her H/R manager.  She literally handed it to her, which is far more effective than applying online.  Again, nothing came out of that.  But before sending them off, she did help me re-write my resume and cover letter.  That’s still a win.  And it was an epic win when she took me to a spa in Tremblant for reading week the following year.

I should be saying this every time I respond to a, “what’s the best way to get an accounting job” email.  You have to put yourself in the line of fire.  Stop asking me what to do.  I can’t answer questions like that. Get out there and meet as many people as possible.  Do it in a meaningful way.  Get excited about the things you’re doing.  It doesn’t always have to be about work either.

I’m a huge fan of the TED conference.  But I knew there was no way I could attend it this year – it costs approx $5,000 and is held in California.  So I looked at the ideacity conference in Toronto instead, which is pretty similar.  That still cost $4,000.  I got around that by volunteering.  And I hustled my way to a “presenter liaison” role.  I was responsible for greeting each presenter at the hotel and coordinating their rides to and from the venue.  I met every single presenter at that conference.  I got about 5-20min with each of them where I asked them any questions I wanted.  After the conference I set up a facebook group for all the volunteers I worked with.  Why?  Because I was hustling.  They were all extremely bright, funny, interesting people.  It’s good to be around people like that.  And it showed the event coordinators that I was passionate about what they were doing.

That paid off nicely as I was given a free ticket to the CARP conference two weeks ago.  I heard a day’s worth of great presentations, met the CEO of coldfx, made a decent connection with a woman who’s husband does engineering work for mining companies worldwide and got the contact info of a personal training gym downtown (I’m in the process of getting my canfitpro certification).

The only thing I would add to hustling is reading.  Read constantly on a variety of subjects.  I considered today a passive reading day even though I read the following;

Stuff I’m Reading, Have Read, Or Going to Read. I’m Smart – Tony Gentilcore

Landing that first job – Bill Kennedy

Choose your customers choose your future – Seth Godin

Anti-Player Counterinsurgency: Game For Women – Roissy in DC

James Cameron and Avatar – The New Yorker

Rupert Murdoch to Block Google = Smart = Twitter has changed it all – Mark Cuban (blogmaverick)

***

This is the best way to get a job, or anything actually.


Responses

  1. Nothing insightful to say…I just wanted to tell you that you always give great advice and that I am so glad I found your blog.

    • I think you win for nicest comment of all time.

      • Well, today’s a good day. I got an offer from GT to start as an audit associate next fall. I’ll definitely keep your advice about how to impress during the first 30 days in mind. ;-).

  2. Awesome. Good luck!

  3. I’m going to ask a rather naive question. Most people go to the Big 4 because it’s a “door-opener.” Would you say that GT “opens doors,” as well?

    N.B. Although it may seem so, I don’t mean to imply in my question that I am going into public accounting for the “opportunities.”

    Thanks.

  4. Think about it this way Daniel – do you think there will be some doors open to you if you work at GT for 5 years?

    There are always doors open :)

    • Thanks, Kel. I mean, I know that opportunities abound everywhere. Just that there’s a perception that the Big 4 churns out future business leaders (obviously hyperbole). I am perfectly aware that one’s future is determined moreso by skill, will, and ambition (and some luck).

      I was just curious if GT’s name carries any clout in the business world. Other than being a “notch below the Big 4.”

      Gosh, I feel like such a jackass asking these superficial questions.

      Your blog is fantastic, too, btw.

      Best,

      Daniel

      • “The college recruiters made it seem like working here was one little notch below being James Bond.” – new Deloitte recruit

        Don’t worry about feeling like a jackass. No one tells you this stuff in university.

        I think there’s a certain mystique that surrounds a “big 4 job.” Even though their names do carry weight – GT is well known and respected – your success will depend more on your connections and hard work than what’s printed outside your office.

        What are you really worried about here? If its name carried absolutely no clout, what would be the problem?

  5. I don’t know really. I guess I assume that Big 4 people have better “connections.”

    I am sure that once I start working at the firm, my perceptions will change dramatically.

    Besides, I really enjoyed all of my interactions with the people at the firm and even the other candidates.

    I’m thrilled to have been hired by such a great firm, actually, and maybe a bit overexcited. The last few days my mind has just been spinning in a whirlwind of divergent thoughts. I’ll come to my senses eventually.

    Thanks for indulging me. Best of luck in your career and with the CPA exams. ;)


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