One of the things I love about my new company is how committed everyone is to volunteering in the community. Throughout the month of April and a wee bit of May, my company held special service days in neighboring towns, giving all 4,000+ of us an opportunity to get out there and lend a helping hand.
I was eager to volunteer, and as a still relatively unknown newbie, I was hoping it would give me a good chance to bond with my coworkers (who have proven to be very difficult to click with—more on that another day). After a slight rain delay, my service day rolled around and I arrived at the site, an urban park, excited to dig right in and start helping out.
So little old me strolled right up to a group of people who looked like they knew what they were doing and asked how I could help. And before I knew it, I was handed a pretty gigantic shovel and was told to start digging up weeds in front of the park’s clubhouse. Sure, it sounded easy enough. My thumbs definitely aren't green—more like slightly yellow from excessive highlighter and Sharpie use—but I decided I’d figure out my weeding duties along the way. Until I saw who my weeding “buddy” was. The Executive Vice President/Chief Marketing Officer of my company. Needless to say, she’s a BIG deal (she's been on The Today Show, for goodness' sake!). And us little people rarely ever see her.
As I tried to get over my initial shock, I focused on digging the crap out of all of the dandelions in sight. We made brief small talk, but inside my head a battle was raging between the shy girl I usually am and the ballsy girl who only comes out after a cocktail or two. Before I knew what I was doing, I stopped digging, looked straight at her and said, “I just have to introduce myself, since we’re working together. My name is Advertising Working Girl.” Only it didn’t sound that smooth. Her reaction? She laughed! After one mortifying second, she introduced herself and mentioned that she knew I was new at the company. We ended up talking all about my work experiences, life in my new city, my engagement, and all of our summer plans. At the end of the day, my coworkers started referring to me as her new best friend. I was so proud of myself for introducing myself and not letting my nerves get in the way, like they usually do.
As if that wasn’t enough, the day ended with a site picture for the company website. As we all huddled together, I quickly squeezed in on one side—right between my new best friend, the EVP/CMO, and the CEO/Preseident of the entire company. How funny is that? I stood there grinning proudly as I soaked up all the power around me. And now that picture is up at work for all to see. I love it.
But all my pride and elbow-rubbing aside, I thought it was so cool that all the top people in my company were out there digging up weeds with the rest of us. They all worked so hard to make sure that park was spotless for the kids in the community. To me, that’s a sign of great leadership. The whole event not only inspired me to do more service, but really made me appreciate my new company. Moral of the story: If you work for a big company (or any company really) and get a chance to garden/cook/clean/chat with a head honcho, swallow your nerves and just go for it! What do you have to lose?
Oh, and I ran into my new best friend in the ladies room a couple week ago, and she totally remembered me. Bonus!