I think everyone can relate to the feeling of needing attention, but I’ll admit, when I was growing up I was worse than most. Almost every family video is peppered with me doing cartwheels in the background of whatever my dad was actually trying to film, as I screamed, “DAD, are you getting me?” over and over again. He typically was not “getting me,” leaving me perpetually searching for someone to acknowledge how great I was at doing cartwheels, handstands, or choreographing dances to Madonna songs.
There is one day, however, that sticks out as a shining example of me figuring out something that actually worked to get me noticed. And I worked that thing until the day was done.
It was my sister’s second birthday party and I was six. Because she was two and didn’t go to daycare, the party was mostly comprised of my friends and their parents, so really, it was my party, and I was pissed that she was even there and that no one was sufficiently acknowledging me and how amazing I was.
As everyone celebrated my sister, who by the way was the cutest child in the history of children, I went upstairs into the bathroom to pout. There, on the counter, sat my mom’s makeup bag. I dug my hands into the bag, feeling a swell of excitement as I pulled each item out, lined them up, and decided how to fab up my look.
First, I came downstairs looking like this:
Everyone commented over and over again about how great I looked, how pretty I was, and how nice the blush looked. Clearly, if I wanted more attention, I’d need more makeup. So I ran back upstairs and carefully applied another layer. I ran back downstairs looking like this:
Everyone seemed taken aback for a moment, noticing the change, then continued with the compliments as my sister sat on her new rocking horse in the corner all by herself. My best friend walked over to her, gently helping her rock. Clearly, I needed more makeup to keep this party about me. So I ran upstairs and applied a new, thicker layer. I ran down the stairs and noticed my dad in the corner, now filming my sister. This wouldn’t do. I scrambled over to the rocking horse and shoved her off, placing myself in front of the camera, looking like this:
He dropped the camera to tend to her and didn’t even bother scolding me for what I had done. I looked around and everyone was lost in conversation, so I started doing the Running Man to a New Kids On The Block song, and no one turned their heads. I needed more makeup to keep myself in the spotlight. Obviously.
In the end, as the cake was served, I looked like this:
And by God, I got the first piece of cake with the biggest flower on it.
So how does this relate to business? Very loosely. However, there is a tie. You see, when you’re trying to get noticed within your company, you have to find what works for you and you’ve gotta work it. Maybe you’re the person who stands out because you always deliver what you say you will exactly on time. Maybe you speak up in meetings and call people on their crap. Maybe you’re a whistle-blower and somehow your colleagues don’t hate you for it. Or maybe you’re just someone who knows what they want and you go for it. No matter what it is, use what works for you and push forward. Repeat those actions, be consistent, and if there’s a dip in effectiveness, just bob and weave or double down on what works. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up with the first piece of cake. . .and a pretty sweet promotion. Or maybe you’ll end up looking like this:
You’ll never know until you try!