Don’t Just Decline Opportunities—Pay Them Forward

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Over the last few years I’ve been given incredible opportunities to contribute to all kinds of publications. Joining the team at InVision has opened so many doors for me—our incredible team is so supportive, and I’m grateful to all of them for all that they’ve done to help get me to this point in my career! (I’m looking at you Clark, Clair, Kristin, Leah, Stephen, and so many others!)

At one point I started to get overwhelmed with press requests coming in. I couldn’t keep up, but didn’t want to let anyone down by not contributing. I talked to my mentor about it, expressed how grateful I was, but how I was running out of hours in the day (and night).

He said something that SHOULD have been obvious and top of mind, but it wasn’t. I was so embroiled in stress over the thought of not being able to keep up when so many other people weren’t given these chances that it didn’t even cross my mind. He said:

“It’s awesome that you’re being asked to contribute in so many ways, but you’re only one person. Don’t feel guilty about having to turn these opportunities down. In fact, it’s a chance for you to share the opportunities with others. When you’re tapped out, it’s ok to pass them along to someone else in the company.”

The lightbulb went off in my head, my stress level rapidly declined, and from that point forward, I started passing along opportunities to coworkers as they came through. It was so much fun being able to help insanely talented people who sit back and quietly kick major ass at their jobs every single day get their names out there.

One of the first PR reps I ever worked with, Leah, told me once that her favorite part about her job was having the opportunity to help people launch and grow their careers through press channels they wouldn’t otherwise have had access too. She is not only insanely talented, she’s an amazing human as well.

Contributing a post, guest starring on a podcast, speaking at a conference, or contributing quotes to a publication can change the entire trajectory of a person’s career. (It certainly did mine!)

So, what’s my point here? This mentality applies to all kinds of situations, not just press related ones. Asked to work on a big project but can’t contribute? Is there a mega talented, super driven junior designer who you know would crush it? Pass their name along. Get a call out at a major meeting for something you worked on with a team? Follow up with a “this wouldn’t have been possible without XY & Z”. Something that takes 2 seconds and seems incredibly small to you may be a huge stepping stone for someone else.

If you’re a person who is regularly given channels to push your career forward, give someone who might not have access to those opportunities a chance to shine. Don’t just decline an opportunity—pay it forward if you can.

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