What I Learned As A Cat Food Brand Hand Model

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After my early jobs as a talking Christmas tree at a local mall, a tap dancing bear at Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park and…yep…the hand model for a Fancy Feast cat food ad, I realized that that particular career path did not bode well for my future.

So with my theater arts degree firmly in hand (yeah, I know), I temped my way through multiple Hollywood studios until I landed my first “real” job as an assistant in the public relations department of a company founded by Norman Lear, the legendary writer/producer behind All in the Family, among other hit TV series.

Even though I expected to get to know everyone and everything about entertainment while working at this mid-size company, it wasn’t long before the company was purchased by Columbia Pictures…then Coca-Cola…then Sony.

I could have ducked under my desk and waited until it was safe to come out, but instead I raised my former hand model hand and volunteered for every opportunity that came my way. In those five years of mergers and restructures, I went from assistant to vice president and department head of publicity, advertising, and promotion for Sony’s Worldwide Television Group.

It was pretty darn fast. Hence, the spinning head.

While I can’t promise the same kinds of opportunities will come your way, I can promise to help you become a more visible leader so you can accelerate your career climb. Right now. Whatever your current level. Here are some first steps.

  • Build allies inside your company.

Schedule a meeting with one person inside your organization for coffee, breakfast, virtual get-acquainted, or whatever works once a week. Get outside your bubble and meet with people you barely know. Let them know you’re interested in them and what they do at the company. Most people will be flattered, just keep it brief and send a thank you.

  • Make yourself more visible within your industry.

Similar to the action item above, make it your mission to meet with people in your industry (or the industry to which you aspire) once a month. That might be a referral to meet with an executive you admire or to attend a conference where you can spend time with people with similar interests and career paths. Join an association, trade or networking group and take an active role so people can experience you in action.

  • Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer.

Let it be known to your boss, team, and/or colleagues that you’re always ready to pitch in, that you’re happy to research things you don’t know, and that you genuinely believe in supporting others. When people recognize you as the person with non-stop energy and a smile on your face, you’ll start to get noticed

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