What Penn Jillette Taught Me About Helping Others February 28, 2022
Years ago, I heard Penn Jillette talk about magic and leadership. There were plenty of nuggets to take away but what stuck with me was something he mentioned during the Q&A. A man in an Aerosmith t-shirt, took the mic, stood and asked about how he could get into the magic and entertainment business. Jillette’s response was to the effect of, “Come talk to me at the end of this event and I’ll give you my number and I’ll do my best to help.”
WHAT? This famous magician, actor, musician, TV presenter and author was publicly telling a stranger in his audience to come see him to get his number so he could help him succeed! Wow. I wished I’d asked a question.
Jillette continued (and I’m paraphrasing) “I hope you do. And I hope you use the number and call. Teller and I do shows all over the country and we always shake hands with fans after the shows. They come up and tell me they want to do magic or stand up and I shake their hands and give them my address and tell them to send me their tapes or clips and they say thank you and look me in the eyes and move on.”
Now I’m thinking, how the heck does this guy get any work done with thousands of fans sending him mail or calling his personal number. I mean, he must have a dozen assistants working as gatekeepers!
What he said next nearly took my breath away, “And fewer than 10% of them ever follow up!” I’m pretty sure you could hear a collective gasp.
Yes, the man knows how to hold an audience and I have no idea if 10% is the true number in his case but I can certainly tell you it plays out in my experience as a recruiter and coach.
Whenever someone posts on LinkedIn about their job search challenges or issues when it comes to landing an interview or getting a job offer, I send a note or add a comment stating I’d be happy to spend 30 minutes on the phone with them to walk through what’s happening. I don’t promise a job, but I promise them insightful, professional advice from an experienced recruiter with more than a decade of experience.
I’m NOT Penn Jillette. I’m Peggie. I don’t do shows to audiences around the world with my silent partner, nor have I written books, hosted TV shows or invented anything other than a really yummy martini. And while I like to think I have a magic touch with helping people find their happy at work, I’ve never pulled a rabbit out of a hat.
And still – less than one quarter of the people I reach out to ever follow up. Sometimes they post a month or two later that they’re still struggling, that no one wants to hire them, that they’re being ghosted or what have you.
There’s a ton of noise on the internet and on LinkedIn these days. Odds are good you’re going to miss a message or two – but are you shooting yourself in the foot doing the same thing you’ve always done to find a new job? Or are you willing to take 10 minutes or 30 to follow up with someone who has offered help?
Our culture is suffering right now with everyone thinking that everyone else is out to get them. (Don’t get me started – I don’t care what side you’re on, I only care if you’re being kind.) And we stick to these beliefs that if we can’t do it all alone, we shouldn’t be succeeding. It’s a weird and flawed system for sure, and still, as humans we are hard-wired for communication and collaboration.
I offer to help because I know that no one succeeds on their own and that when one of us succeeds so do others. You know, “a rising tide lifts all boats,” as they say.
I believe in abundance – that there are enough jobs and there are enough people. The key is to help the right people find the right jobs at the right time. I can’t promise you that I know every job that fits every person. I’m not saying that there aren’t glitches in the hiring system. What I am saying is that if you want to be happy at work, and someone offers you a hand, reach out and take it, you don’t know where it may lead.
Written by: PEGGIE ARVIDSON, Account Executive
Peggie Arvidson started recruiting in junior high school when she convinced her classmates to join her in creating a ski club. Since then, she’s held many positions from sales to recruiting to non-profit leadership and quality assurance. Her focus in her life and career is helping people to find their right work for the right pay because she believes that when people are happy at work, they are secure in life, and happy people change the world for the better.
Peggie has moved more than 30 times across 5 states and three time zones and is not a military brat. Before COVID, she spent her free time traveling with her friends and husband and now you can find her making beautiful things out of yarn, found objects, and her imagination.
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