Play in traffic
Updated: Nov 6, 2020
In September 2019, I attended an investing conference where a successful executive shared her eight principles of success. These were eight principles reduced from over 100 principles gained over fifty years of business. (Since the talk was not for attribution, I have not shared the executive's actual name, referring to her as Vivian.)
Of the eight principles she shared, the one that struck me as most applicable to any aspect of relationships and work was to "play in traffic."
By playing in traffic, she meant, just get out there. Examples she shared over the course of her career underscored how she manufactured serendipity by talking to people, making a call, seeing people, doing things, making things happen. Several examples:
When in law school in Manhattan, this executive wanted to use free afternoons to gain practical knowledge in the law. So she walked several blocks to the financial district and knocked on a door that looked like it belonged to a law firm. She directly asked for a job, was directed to the partner in charge who appreciated her "moxie" and gave her an internship doing anything that came up.
Later in her career she was in Europe after leaving an executive position. While walking in the street, she ran into a private equity financier outside an embassy. The financier asked what she was going to do next, and led to a suggestion that she go visit a company the private equity firm had just acquired. It led to her next job.
In my experience, the most interesting opportunities have come when playing in traffic. Knocking on doors has sometimes come to be the best thing.
This way of being and thinking is relevant in so many ways and aspects of life and work. Do you encourage people around you to take risks? Do you allow people to express themselves? Do you empower people to experiment and innovate? Do you leave your own door open to serendipity?