Commentary: To take management of your profession, ask for what you need—straight and explicitly


Kara Goldin is the founder and CEO of Trace Inc., whose flavored, unsweetened Trace Water has seen its sales soar during the current pandemic. However turning into a beverage entrepreneur was maybe the furthest factor from her thoughts within the late Eighties, when she got down to set up herself in media—an effort that led her, virtually actually, to Fortune‘s doorstep. On this excerpt from her new memoir, Undaunted, Goldin talks about how being unafraid to indicate up uninvited helped her launch a stellar profession.

The financial system was not in good condition my senior 12 months, and plenty of of my classmates simply wished to get a foot within the door someplace, anyplace. Many have been settling for unpaid internships.

I didn’t wish to try this, however I additionally didn’t know sufficient concerning the job market to chart my very own path. So I did what I might do again and again in my life to make an knowledgeable resolution: I requested questions. Of anyone and everyone.

If the alternatives I would like aren’t coming to me, I assumed, I’ll should create them for myself.


{Photograph} by Platon for HarperCollins Management.

As an alternative of assembly with the on-campus interviewers, I went out searching for interviews of my very own. After a number of weeks of asking anybody and everybody for contacts in my job search, I put collectively an inventory of all of the leads I bought and began sending out letters and making cellphone calls. I pitched myself onerous. I stated I used to be excited concerning the firm, no matter it was, that I used to be a tough employee, that I’d think about any sort of job, and that I’d gladly fly at my very own expense for an in-person interview.

Earlier than I knew it, I had seventy potential interviews lined up. They have been all entry-level positions in every kind of corporations, from consultancies to monetary service suppliers.

However there was one place I wished to work at above all the remainder. It was a publishing firm, based mostly in New York, whose product I actually admired.

Fortune journal.

Not like a lot of the different corporations I despatched letters to, I didn’t have a contact identify at Fortune, however I didn’t let that cease me.

I figured it couldn’t harm to ask.

In reality, I’ve discovered that essentially the most sure solution to get what you need is to ask, straight and explicitly.

In all of the letters I despatched to potential employers as a job-seeking faculty grad, I requested for an interview and a job, however I added a extra private contact to my Fortune letter. I wrote on to Marshall Loeb, the managing editor of the magazine and a serious determine on the New York and nationwide publishing scene. I knew he was the particular person liable for making Fortune the journal I appreciated a lot. 

When he got here on board as editor just some years earlier, the journal had been fairly stodgy, targeted on finance and economics. Loeb livened it up with tales about enterprise individuals and their corporations and launched extra images and graphics. These have been the tales that had turned me on to enterprise and the individuals who drove it.

In my letter to Mr. Loeb, I defined how a lot I appreciated the journal and stated that he had taught me extra about enterprise than my finance professors had. Regardless that I secretly imagined myself as a reporter or an editor, with my characteristic tales and byline on the Fortune cowl, I made it clear that I might like to work for him in any place he had out there. 

I bought a pleasant letter again., thanking me for writing and proposing that if I used to be ever in New York, I ought to get in contact and they’d see about arranging an interview. Signed, Marshall Loeb. 


That added New York Metropolis to my checklist of locations to go to.

I hadn’t truly organized for an interview, as Mr. Loeb had steered. I considered calling forward, however determined to simply present up as a substitute. My plan was to stroll into the human sources workplace, present them the letter from Marshall Loeb, and ask for a job. That’s how I had gotten jobs in highschool. I had discovered it’s powerful to disregard someone who’s standing proper in entrance of you. In order that was my plan: present up, do no matter it took to land an interview, get a job.

Pushing by means of the door

It was a chilly January day in New York, 1989. I walked alongside Sixth Avenue to the well-known Time & Life Constructing. I pushed by means of the revolving door into an virtually overwhelmingly superior foyer of glass, marble, and chrome steel, hung with huge artworks.

For the primary time, I bought a way of the magnificence and status of the corporate. Fortune was a part of the Time Inc. empire, which printed greater than 100 magazines, together with Life, Time, Cash, Sports activities Illustrated, and Folks. In these days, it was the print media, not the Web, that formed how individuals bought their data and the way they seen the world.

I hesitated. May I actually undergo with this? Instantly, it felt like an inconceivable lengthy shot. I took a deep breath. I bought within the elevator, rode up a number of flooring, discovered the human sources division, and went as much as the receptionist.

“Good day. I’m concerned about a job at Fortune.”

She checked out me skeptically.

“Do you will have an appointment?”

“No. I’ve a letter from Marshall Loeb.”

I confirmed her the letter. She studied it briefly then checked out me as if unsure what to do subsequent. A lady standing close by had heard our trade. She came to visit and launched herself as the pinnacle of human sources. She glanced on the letter. Clearly she had seen a whole lot prefer it. The usual faculty scholar brush-off type letter. I had imagined Marshall Loeb learn it and personally signed it. Now I noticed he had in all probability by no means even seen it.

The top of HR checked out me with a mixture of amusement and curiosity.

“What Mr. Loeb meant was that you need to get in contact and make an appointment for an interview in case you have been planning to be in New York.”

Though she was saying “No,” what I heard was “Perhaps.”

“Nicely, right here I’m. I’m in New York now. I’m leaving tomorrow. I’d actually recognize an interview.”

She once more tried saying no. “I’m sorry, however there actually aren’t any openings at Fortune proper now.” 

I didn’t flip to go. I simply stood there. Proper in entrance of her. Onerous to disregard. There was a pause. Then she remembered one thing.

“You understand, I feel there’s a job out there at Time. It’s within the circulation division. Would you be concerned about that?”

Now she was saying “perhaps,” however I used to be listening to “sure.” I had solely a imprecise concept of what circulation was. It wasn’t Fortune. It wasn’t Marshall Loeb. And it in all probability wouldn’t contain reporting that resulted in cowl tales. But when I might work within the constructing, I might meet the Fortune individuals and ultimately get employed as a author.

“Sure! I might!”

I’m without end grateful to that sort lady. “Okay. Let me see if Brooke is on the market to see you now.”

She disappeared for a minute, then got here again and escorted me to an workplace on a unique ground. There she launched me to Brooke McMurray, who was head of third-party circulation and was in search of an government assistant. I sat down and instructed Brooke my entire story—about how a lot I appreciated studying Fortune, my communications research at ASU, my letter to Marshall Loeb, my seventy interviews, and my a number of job gives.

Brooke listened patiently. I can solely think about how I got here throughout. I used to be twenty-one. My primary work expertise had been as a waitress on the Tee Pee restaurant in Tempe, Arizona. I had by no means lived in New York, had by no means even been to New York earlier than this journey. Every part I knew concerning the publishing business I had discovered at school, and I knew completely nothing about circulation.

It will need to have been an okay story as a result of Brooke didn’t kick me out. She described the sort of assistant she was in search of. I needed to be dedicated to supporting her. I needed to be the sort of one who might assist her get issues finished.

“Do you suppose you’re that sort of particular person?”

I assumed for a second. Govt assistant wasn’t precisely what I had in thoughts, however I might study loads about publishing, the company world, and about residing in New York. I used to be in the proper constructing, in the proper metropolis, with an individual who appeared like she may very well be the proper boss. I might study.

“Sure. Completely. I’m that sort of particular person.” 

“Nice,” Brooke stated. “I’ll be in contact.”

I flew again to Arizona. After I bought residence, I had a voicemail ready. Time wished to rent me as Brooke’s assistant. I had landed a job.

Whereas I by no means wrote a narrative for Fortune (again then, not less than), I set to work with individuals who have been pondering creatively about learn how to construct their enterprise throughout a time of change. I found that I cherished promoting and enterprise improvement. I discovered that arduous work and a dedication to fixing issues are nonetheless crucial values in enterprise. Typically, although, you must take management of your personal profession, and you discover that you must transfer on to maneuver up. 


Excerpted from Undaunted, by Kara Goldin. Copyright© 2020 by Kara Goldin.  Utilized by permission of HarperCollins Management.

Kara Goldin is the founder and CEO of Trace Inc. and the writer of Undaunted: Overcoming Doubts & Doubters. She additionally hosts the podcast The Kara Goldin Show, the place she interviews founders, entrepreneurs, and different disrupters throughout varied industries. 

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