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Guest Column: Get Your Piece of the Pie

By April 27, 2018Top News

Dave Rudman, Director of Business Development, USA WSET.

By David Rudman

Advancing in your career is as easy as PIE. PIE stands for “performance, image, exposure,” but you should also think of it like an actual pie. Your piece of the PIE can be any way you cut it – but the best is when no cuts are necessary, the PIE is all yours.

Your career is a journey, and you always want to keep your piece of the pie as large as possible. Performance, image and exposure are all slices of the pie, but the mistake people make is thinking they are all the same size. They are not.

The first piece of the PIE is performance. How good are you at your job? What kind of results do you produce? At the beginning of your career, this is the only piece you have, the only one you have immediate ownership of. When you’re starting out in the industry, invest everything you’ve got into your performance. Plan great events at your restaurant. Gain professional credentials, such as WSET Certifications. Take pride in every shelf you merchandise. Do tastings for off-premise customers to outhustle your competition. Be willing to do anything. You have got to own this piece of the pie.

But you can’t stop there, because as important and primary as performance is, it is the smallest piece of the PIE. In fact, your performance is a scant 10% of the whole PIE. Do you know someone who is extraordinary at their job, but not many people know it? This person clocks in and out every day, putting their nose to the grindstone, but they keep their head down, toiling away in anonymity. For some people, this is what they prefer, and by the way, if you have a person like this on your team, protect them at all costs – these are your “rock stars”! They work like a star but are solid as a rock. Keep their morale high with one-to-one connection and recognition.

But others in this position are quickly frustrated because they are ambitious, but they don’t realize that performance is only a small slice of the PIE. The second slice is image. Image is twice as large a slice as performance. Image isn’t how good you are, it’s how good people think you are. When your boss hears your name, what is their first thought? That’s your image. The matter of fact is that the people most likely to help you advance in your career are going to spend a total of about 15 minutes trying to determine how good your performance is, because that’s all the time they have.

It’s what makes image twice as important: for all the hard work, most decisions that affect your future get made in a conference room by people who have limited information to go on. Once you have your performance slice, you need to invest everything into your image slice. Learn to always recap. If you work as much as your colleagues but they rarely report on their day-to-day, you will get a reputation for being the hardest worker on your team just by recapping your work and your successes regularly. Get some PowerPoint skills to make your recaps look great. Be early for every sales meeting. Dress like you have a job interview every day. Soon, you’ll have a second slice of the PIE, twice as big as the first.

As much as performance and image are important, combined they still only account for 30% of the PIE. The last slice accounts for the entire remaining 70%, and that slice is exposure. Once you are great at your job, and people think you’re great at your job, your responsibility to your career advancement is to put your sparkling image out into the world, connecting to as many people as possible. Performance alone might get you a raise. Image alone might get you a promotion within your department. But if your goal is to reach the heights of your industry, the word must get out. Most people get stuck on this slice and never fill their whole PIE. They think it’s “unfair” that it’s not good enough to be great at their job and have a great reputation.

Maybe in a perfect world, that would be enough. But hiring managers are people too. They have limited attention spans. They are subject to tens of thousands of bits of information every day. You must market yourself to them. What would you think of the long-term prospects of a business that made a great product but had no marketing budget? Businesses that want to grow and scale must reach potential customers, and so do you.

If you work in retail, attend every distributor tasting you can, and really talk to distributor personnel and suppliers. They are dying to make new connections in the trade, and if you put yourself out there, they will visit you with ambassadors and invite you to special events. Your network and reputation will grow quickly.

No matter where you work, post content on LinkedIn and engage with every interaction. Always be thinking three things: how am I doing at my job? Do people know how well? How many people know how well?

Understand that these concepts build upon one another and are exponentially more important as they add up. Ensure that your slice of the PIE is as big as it can be!

Dave Rudman is the Director of Business Development for the U.S. Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET). Previously, he spent seven years working in distribution and began his career in restaurant hospitality.


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