Archive for August, 2011

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Setting Yourself Apart as a YP

We have all heard the term, “think outside of the box”.  The reality of business is that the larger a company becomes, the harder it is to actually do.  Certain roles are defined for certain positions and you get grouped with hundreds of peers with similar capabilities.  If you do in fact try to get ahead by showcasing your talents at tasks outside of your typical job responsibilities, you’ll probably get resistance and be forced back into the box.  Running a large company is much easier if everyone knows their role and fits where they’re supposed to fit.  The downside to this is that you’re just as expendable as the next person working in the same position as you.

So how do you stand out amongst the masses and become successful at a large company?  While interning at GE Medical Systems during college, I asked CEO Jeff Immelt the very same question.  His answer was surprisingly simple: “Become good at something no one else is good at.”  The only problem with this mantra is that when you take the initiative and attempt to learn a new skill, you may still be told, “You’re not checking all the boxes in your current job description.”  So how can you get ahead and at the same time keep the boxes checked in your current position?

Passion or Position

In my situation, I found myself performing the duties of a typical Mechanical/Systems Engineer but the job satisfaction was lacking.  To fulfill my need for creativity, I started learning animation on the side and was soon animating my own mechanical designs, which I began presenting at company design reviews.  These animations quickly began to serve as an added tool for visualizing a project.  The response from corporate executives was gratifying and very rewarding.  Over the course of the next few years, I was tasked with creating animations for entire programs.  Customers were praising my animations but at the same time I was being told, “You can’t be compared to a Mechanical/Systems Engineer anymore.”  But I didn’t let that deter me.  I had found my passion and was determined to make the greatest impact possible.

It was at that point, when my creative side was satisfied and I had received validation from the corporate world that I realized just how unique of a niche I had truly stumbled upon.  It was the culmination of ten years of mechanical/systems engineering knowledge combined with over twelve years of animation and visualization experience that brought me to starting Coalter Digital.  I knew I could provide much needed services to defense contractors and engineering firms so I took a leap of faith and landed firmly on my feet in a career that I am passionate about.

More than Support

After my initial success, I didn’t know where to turn.  Where would my marketing dollars get their biggest return?  It was then that I joined the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast and was introduced to key business contacts.  The EDC not only submitted me for entrepreneurial awards I was unaware of, but they even arranged for the editors of Florida Trend magazine to visit my office.  You can’t buy that type of publicity.  I also place high regard for the impact Spacecoast Business has provided my business.  It has given me exposure throughout the county and, most importantly, helped introduce me to successful entrepreneurs that not too long ago were in the same position as me.  The opportunities to market your company exist.  All you need is an open mind and a willingness to explore local business-oriented organizations to find the best fit for you and your businesses.

When all is said and done, the one thing all successful entrepreneurs have in common is that they are passionate about what they do.  All the hard work it takes to start a business would not be worth it otherwise.  It took a long time but I’m happy to say that I look forward to coming to work every day and solving the creative challenges I face on a daily basis.  The best piece of advice that I have shared with high school students I have mentored, fellow co-workers, and friends is to find your passion and everything else will work itself out.  At the end of the day if you are not happy about doing your job, it’s just work.