Close by Schiphol Airport the Dutch Microsoft offices are located. Very swanky, uber-design and I was there to meet my friend for lunch before flying off to London-town.
He picked me up from the foyer where there is no reception but a welcoming team of host and hostesses, it was all very impressive. They offered me coffee (and a bottle of water when I went back.) The work stations and meeting rooms weren’t called that: they all had very pretentious names like creative space or something. All very modern in design and admittingly looking comfortable for creative thinking. So think sofas, glass rooms in a garden, big designer chairs etc. The tiny coffee table by our sofa was a meer 800 euros. It served well for the drinks from the coffee bar where you could order any coffee you could possibly think of: including all the vanilla to butterscotch shots.
Over lunch we talked about him, about me, how our lives turned out. He was surprised that I was still struggling with trying to find my feet, even though I speedtracked my way through school and university, grad and post-grad. He stayed back a year and is after several switches from degrees still working on his BA dissertation ( it has taken him 7 years ) but he is now working flexible hours for Microsoft and loving it.
I said that I might just have had a lot of luck in the beginning, but he was having none of it: ” The fact that I am here at Microsoft now, has nothing to do with luck – I worked for it.”
Indeed he did, so on the way back I decided to look at what is he doing:
1. Focussing on a goal. Even though that goal might not be what others want your goal to be. He has had his own company in computer thingitybobs, which he started in secondary school, this he then developed and though it might have distracted him from academic work, it was no doubt a stepping stone to his new job. In very short: he created opportunities for himself by keeping an eye on the ball.
2. He knows how to make a situation work for him by thinking outside the box: remember the paper rounds kids used to do to make money? He did that too, hated it and decided to try to become the distributor. He succeeded and so didn’t have to do the actual paperround but handed out the papers to other kids who did it for him.
3. He is a Fixer. If ever there is a problem, there is a challenge. He will try to fix it. Even if it means reading up on the subject. If it interests him, and a challenge usually does, he can do it. Worst case scenario: he can find someone else who can fix it for him.
4. Networking. Because this guy knows how to talk and how to walk the talk. He is easy going and can talk to all kinds of people. He has a broad interest and by pursuing them he knows a lot of different people. He also know how to ask for a favour and people are happy to help as he’s always willing to do them one in return.
5. Being reasonably selfish. His girlfriend has graduated ages ago, she’s got a lovely job too and they bought a house together. She is a very patient soul but I’m sure she would like him to graduate because she told me ( when he was in the room, I’m not just sh*t-stirring here!). I’m sure he wants the same… but for now he still focuses on other things. He seems a man on a mission and no one can stop him, not even his girlfriend of 10 years. Bless her soul.
There you have it: the very basics of what it takes to succeed. You need a goal and focus, creative thinking, rising to the challenge, being around like minded and helpful people, and not giving a flying f*ck about what anyone else thinks.
Simples. Now print and apply to life.