In her bestselling book, Lean In, Facebook Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg shares a wonderful story in this regard. Shortly after beginning at Facebook she was contacted by a woman named Lori Goler who was at that time a highly regarded executive at eBay. She told Sheryl:
“I want to apply to work with you at Facebook, so I thought about calling you and telling you all of the things I’m good at and all of the things I like to do. Then I figured that everyone was doing that. So instead, I want to ask you:
“What is your biggest problem, and how can I solve it?”
Sheryl was floored. As she related, in her career she’d hired thousands of people, “and no one had ever said anything remotely like that.”
In other words, Ms. Goler was asking how she could add value to the company; not how could the company add value to her.
Which question is most likely to get someone hired?
A while back we looked at the storied career of Kat Cole. Beginning as a restaurant hostess at age 17, she actively looked for ways to add value to the organization above and beyond what anyone asked and certainly way above and beyond what was expected. She was constantly solving problems and increasing her market value to the company.
At just 32 Kat was named CEO of Cinnabon and now, at age 35, she is CEO of Focus Brands, the company that owns Cinnabon and five other restaurant chains.
You needn’t be applying for a corporate job or be part of a big company in order to do this. Whether you are in sales, have a small company or…whatever you do, if you can seek ways to add value to people’s lives and businesses through solving their biggest problem(s), you are on your way to major, major business and life success!
What problems are you focused on solving in the marketplace?
Please feel free to share with us.