on authenticity, risk-taking, and life-long learning
Ginny is a magnetic individual. She is incredibly positive and engaging. It seems that she is at ease in every setting. In fact, she is so at ease with herself, that her ease becomes contagious. You can’t help but be at ease around her. It just might be her superpower.
Things weren’t always so sunny for Ginny, though. By age 21, both of her parents had passed away. She didn’t have a safety net or models for success. She created both for herself.
Despite the major hardships she faced as a young person, she has been able to build a very successful career for herself. Glancing at her LinkedIn profile, you see a bunch of director-level positions. She ultimately built her own consulting business, Corsi Associates, which provides executive teambuilding and consulting. (It’s not a coincidence that her company carries her name. She built the business.)
1. ALWAYS BE YOURSELF
Ginny has known me for about a year and is aware that I’ll be graduating soon and on the post-MBA job hunt. So, our conversation naturally turned to job interviews. Given Ginny’s superpower, what came out of her mouth was no surprise. She believes that people are looking for two qualities in their candidates:
- That you’re competent – (obviously, you have to be able to do the job)
That you’re comfortable with yourself
Easier said than done, I know. But, I think that there is a lot of wisdom to this line of thinking. I decided it would be helpful to unpack why comfort with one’s self is so powerful. Here goes:
- Emotions are contagious! Think about some of the first dates that you’ve been on. *cringe* Sitting across the table from an awkward person you barely know can be excruciating. On the other hand, spending the evening with someone that is lighthearted and helps keep the conversation afloat can be a really good time! Interviews are kind of like first dates. You’re really checking each other out to see if you live up to each others’ expectations.
Authenticity is disarming. Interviewers are humans, that are hiring humans. You need to be relatable. If you have 105% of the qualifications, but the interviewer can’t see themselves working with you, you’re not getting the job.
You instill trust. When your words and your body language are consistent, you’re believable. Your confidence in yourself communicates to your interviewer that they have no reason to doubt the words coming out of your mouth.
When you believe that you’re awesome, you’re much more likely to convince your interviewer to agree.
But how?! I have two pieces of advice:
Fake it until you make it.
Be really nice to yourself. Treat yourself like your own best friend.
2. ASK. JUST ASK.
Having lost both parents at an early age, Ginny had the very real knowledge that her ability to support herself was a matter of survival. She told me a story about one of her early job interviews that includes a lesson in it.
She moved to a new community and went up for job at a local school. The superintendent let her know that he regretfully would be unable to offer her a job. (This is where the story would end for most of us. We’d thank the superintendent for kindly considering our application and ask him to keep in touch if anything else came available. Right?)
But not for Ginny. She had done her research before arriving in this town and knew that there was a small local paper. So, she asked the superintendent if he knew the managing editor and asked him to make a connection for her.
I thought this was craaazy!! This guy didn’t owe her anything! In fact, he had just given her a rejection of sorts by not extending a job offer at the school.
You know what, though? He did make that connection for her and she ended up getting that job over at the local paper. (As a little side note - it's worth mentioning that Ginny has paid this kindness forward generously throughout her career. She loves to use her personal friends and resources to help others in any way she can.)
I asked her where she got the audacity to make that first ask, and that brings us to another of Ginny’s operating principles:
3. PEOPLE ARE MOTIVATED BY THE ESCAPE FROM FEAR, NOT THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS
Ginny’s willingness to take risks didn’t come from courage (though she developed it later), she simply didn’t have another choice. She asked herself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” After losing both of her parents, the risk of getting a “no” from the superintendent when she asked for a connection was trivial.
She was warm and likeable and created a situation where the superintendent wanted to help her. She gave him the opportunity to be generous.
Ginny found that the more risks she took, the more certain she was of her competencies, allowing her to take even more risks in the future. It’s a virtuous cycle. She also found that when she asked for things, she would get them (and then did her part to work her butt off to deliver on her promises). The result was that she became less fearful.
There are a couple of lessons that I’d like to pull out.
Don’t pre-eliminate a possibility. I would venture to guess that most of us reading this would never think of making an ask like Ginny did. We are trained subtly (and directly) by our society that we shouldn’t impose on others or take up too much space. We jump to the end of the story and put ourselves in the minds of those we’re asking and make wild assumptions about what their answers may be. When we fear the answer may be “no”, we end the conversation before it even began. Ginny shows another option: be someone that people want to help, and then give them an opportunity to do so. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?
Adjust your lens. Many of us live with limiting beliefs that hold us back from living our lives to the fullest. A common limiting belief is that risk is scary and dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. Did you catch that Ginny doesn’t credit courage for her risk taking? Necessity drove her to take risks, but then she noticed the results. She was attuned to the fact that her risks paid off. She allowed her worldview to shift based on her experiences. (Of course, she could have also looked for all the ways that life is dangerous and would have found plenty of evidence for that as well, but that’s no way to live.)
4. SEEK A FULFILLING LIFE, THE CAREER WILL FOLLOW
As has been firmly established in this post, Ginny has had a tremendous career and achieved notable success. When I asked her about her secret, she told me that she just wanted life to be interesting.
She said, “If I had had a 5-year plan, I would have missed out on the most incredible career.”
She didn’t aim for status – she aimed for new challenges, tackling something different, not being bored, and learning opportunities. She trusted in herself that she could accomplish anything that she put her mind to, and she jumped at opportunities that came her way.
This approach has paid off for her. She has excelled in business and had incredible experiences that she cherishes.
I think the key here is that she reached. In reaching for the things that fulfilled her, she was always growing and finding new places to showcase her unique abilities.