What My 9-Year Old Can Teach You About Career Development

career developmentLast summer, my daughter and I attended Take Your Child To Work Day in my office. I’m very lucky – my company goes all out and makes the day really special for the kids with a full agenda from breakfast to an afternoon ice cream social.

When we arrived in the café for breakfast, Sophie was awestruck – not because of the beautiful campus, the spread of delicious food, or the hundreds of children – but because of the enormous white and blue balloon centerpieces on each table.

“Mom, check those out. Do you think we can bring one home with us?” asked Sophie.

“Absolutely not- those are for decoration only.” I said in my best “don’t even think about it” voice and we went on to enjoy our breakfast.

Later, I returned to the cafeteria to meet up with Sophie for our ice cream social. I was immediately pulled aside by one of the program leads, “we just enjoyed your daughter so much today – she was enthusiastic, asked great questions, and she was so determined to get one of those centerpieces. She wouldn’t take no for an answer so we gave in.”

I was speechless….not only did she get what she was after, but she started a small revolution in the process since there was only a handful of balloons for hundreds of kids. Shortly after, I saw Sophie approaching me with the balloons and I couldn’t help but smile thinking about what I like to call her passionate “spirit of asking.”

There are so many ways we can apply this same “passion” to our work life.  Very early on in my career, I used to think that my hard work would be instantly recognized and promotions, raises, opportunities would appear for me. It took a few hard lessons to realize I was way off.

We need to be proactive about sharing our successes and assertive about asking for the things that we want, need, and deserve. I can remember a discussion with my manager when I asked for a raise. Her response? Before we talk about the raise part, let me say that I respect the fact that you asked because most people don’t.

So, for 2013, I want to encourage everyone to take a page from Sophie’s book and start ASKING. If you aren’t convinced yet, I’ve created a pros and cons list to help you think this through:

Isn’t the answer clear? As I drove home from Take your Child to Work Day, my visibility obstructed by a huge white balloon, I could only think that Sophie’s tenacious, relentless “spirit of asking” is a huge asset.

  • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

    I love that she wasn’t afraid to pursue. We need the boldness of children.

    • http://twitter.com/lizbrenner Liz Brenner

      I agree Sundi Jo Graham and thank you for the comment. We can all learn from children’s fearlessness!

  • BlackStar

    She will be extremely successful in the long run if she retains that spirit, I plan to teach my boys to embrace the same thing.

    • http://twitter.com/lizbrenner Liz Brenner

      Thanks BlackStar! I sure hope she keeps the spirit. Good luck with your boys!

  • Greenbrenda

    Your are to be commended,as you are clearly doing something right. Be proud,so proud,of your daughter and of yourself.Well done

    • http://twitter.com/lizbrenner Liz Brenner

      Thank you so much Greenbrenda. I am indeed proud of her!

  • CrankyHuman

    Hmmm, let’s see, either throw out the centerpieces or give them to the children who whine the most. Tough executive decision.

    • Kathy D.

      wow, you live up to your name well! I believe what was communicated was that she asked respectfully and appropriately. She was given the centerpieces, because she was enthusiastic about the day which showed skill and promise. This reward in her life will motivate her not to be a cranky human.

  • http://twitter.com/visagemarketing Kimberly Penney

    I am with Cranky and would have been much more impressed with the kid if she would have told a manager “I will sweep the floors or do some ACTUAL WORK for the centerpiece” versus being the proverbial entitled squeaky wheel who gets the grease.
    Spirit of asking? Meh.
    Spirit of EARNING? As a CEO you NOW have my attention… And respect.

    • jcharler89

      Hmn, the problem with this is that not everyone has the same audacity to ask what they suppose to earn. This is an appeal to a certain way of seeing things.
      This means that just by talking a certain way I would get your attention and respect (together with the promotions and stuff that come with those of course).

  • http://twitter.com/lizbrenner Liz Brenner

    Thanks Kimberly and CrankyHuman for commenting and appreciate you sharing your opinions. The point of the story is that sometimes in life we can miss out on opportunities because we are afraid to ask…did not intend to imply that hard work is not important or whining gets us what we want.


  • http://twitter.com/Carlotta35 Charlotte Lipson

    It never hurts to ask for a discount in retail stores especially if when buying multiples of a single item, I ask “Is there a quantity discount?”