You can work on an award winning marketing team….literally

Funny how people throw around the term "award winning". Sometimes it even denotes that an award was won...

Like the Stevie Award for "Best Marketing Team" won by our Corporate Marketing & Research Insight Group here at Microsoft. Back in the day, I supported this team and really appreciated how closely they were willing to work with staffing to get good people on board. They are one of the reasons I get marketing.

It's cool to see them win an award. And I guess I wouldn't be a good recruiter if I didn't mention that they currently have positions open and anyone interested in applying can send their resume to me at

Corporate Initiatives Research Manager

Research Manager, Global Customer and Satisfaction Measurement

Research Manager - Worldwide Public Sector and Worldwide Licensing and Pricing


Corporate Initiatives Partner Manager


I'll update with a link to any media coverage that comes out. I wouldn't want to be all PR and break the news first!  ; )


Comments (48)

  1. CallMeJoe says:

    Hi Heather.  I’m a recent college grad and I started reading your blog a little while ago.  I find your postings to be quite interesting and intriguing, so I thought that perhaps you could answer a question that I had on my mind that I’m sure many other recent marketing grads probably have as well.

    Now, I’m not one to toot my own horn, but I’ve got some really impressive accomplishments under my belt at a young age.  I’ve graduated with high honors from a world-renown university.  I have highly impressive and unique corporate marketing internship experience, the likes of which VERY few people my age (if any) have the privilege of participating in.  My ambitious nature coupled with my general intuition makes me a wonderful strategist and planner.  My communication and interpersonal skills are developed far beyond those of many corporate executives.  I’ve even helped a small start-up company to develop a marketing campaign that has helped their client and customer base to double within the span of a just a few months.  And all this has been accomplished at the ripe young age of just 22.

    The dilemma that I face, however, is what I like to call the “catch-22 of experience.”  All of the companies that I’ve interviewed with say they have “decided to go with a candidate with a little more experience.”  The catch-22 is obvious.  How am I supposed to GAIN experience if companies refuse to hire me due to my current perceived lack of experience?  

    Am I doomed to working for an ad agency for $25k/year for the next five years before any major company will recruit me?  Or is there a way around this dilemma that will allow companies to look beyond my age and realize that I can hit the ground running and even become a marketing silver bullet for them?

    PS:  As I was typing this lengthy post in MS Word, the power went out in my apt for a few seconds….kudos to Microsoft for their document recovery abilities!

  2. Michael says:

    Humility Joe, humility.  You say "My communication and interpersonal skills are developed far beyond those of many corporate executives."  Is that based on a wide sample of interactions with corporate executives?  Or are you comparing yourself to one knucklehead you happened to encounter during your "highly impressive and unique corporate marketing internship experience".

    Look, I don’t mean to come off snarky.  Actually, I probably do…but your confidence comes off as arrogance (and if it does in writing, I’m guessing it does in interviews).  No one wants to hire someone they feel will be unmanageable.

    Absent that, you can start your own company, i.e. Zuckerberg (Facebook) or what’s his name.  Oh yeah, Bill Gates.

  3. Michael says:

    I have an addendum to my last comment…if that was satire, good one.  You got me.

  4. CallMeJoe says:

    Hi Michael.  I did not mean to sound cocky or arrogant at all.  I just want some advice from expert recruiters about how I can overcome the obstacles that I spoke of in my original comment.  I mention my accomplishments not as a way to brag or sound cocky, but in hopes that advice can be given to me that will help me use those accomplishments to my advantage in my attempts to get a job with a reputable company.

    Any advice?…and I do mean that in a sincere (and non-antagonistic) way.

  5. CallMeJoe says:

    haha…not satire buddy.  I’m sorry if the tone of my original comment sounded a bit harsh.  Frustration arises from not having a job fresh out of college when you’re on your own for the first time, ya know?  I guess that frustration translated into text.  I’d think that with an NYU degree, it would be a bit easier for me.  But I guess not.

  6. Wine-Oh says:

    Joe, Joe, Joe…

    I have to say I have to agree with Michael. A college degree (NYU or not) doesnt give you the golden ticket to a job at one of the biggest companies in the world. You have to pay your dues and earn it. I am 10 years out of college and 1 month out of grad school with an MBA and the struggle is still there. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and take an entry level job, prove yourself and your skills and you will be rewarded.

    To answer your statement: "Am I doomed to working for an ad agency for $25k/year for the next five years before any major company will recruit me?  Or is there a way around this dilemma that will allow companies to look beyond my age and realize that I can hit the ground running and even become a marketing silver bullet for them?"

    The answer is yes. Roll up your sleeves and take a lesser job to get the real world work experience. Its something I have come to the realization that I have to do in order to go forward and Im in my 30s. Its allowed and its ok. Gotta check the pride at the door. I too have some great experiences, internships and stories to tell. But if you dont have what a company is looking for almost verbatim to the bullet points on the job spec, its a waste of time.

    Good luck!

  7. Michael says:

    Hi Joe,

    Your second response is much better than the first one…

    "I mention my accomplishments not as a way to brag or sound cocky, but in hopes that advice can be given to me that will help me use those accomplishments to my advantage in my attempts to get a job with a reputable company."

    Getting a job with a reputable company that offers good training opportunities, strong management, and, yes, the old cliche, "room for growth" should be your top goal — not the salary, not the corner office.  If money is an issue, you may want to reconsider your field — marketing/advertising just doesn’t pay all that well starting out, great internship experience or not.  Investment banking does, but then you have to be an investment banker…

    Lastly, I would drop your sense of entitlement about the NYU degree.  I’ve found that the only degrees that really, truly, honestly open doors are Ivy League degrees, degrees from schools like MIT, or degrees from programs that are well respected within a certain field (like an Agriculture degree from a place like UMASS).  It may come in handy in a place like New York if your resume happens to land on the desk of someone who went to NYU, but the cold hard reality is that other than that, it’s not going to be the difference maker.

    I work for a small company that for entry level positions, can’t/won’t/finds it not worth it to pay for "fancy" degrees for entry level positions (and I went to Michigan where a lot of my friends were able to command top dollar at investment banks).  We can often find similar talent in people without grossly inflated salary expectations.  And maybe Heather can chime in here, but I don’t know how much true entry-level hiring the Fortune 100 does for marketing positions, outside of companies with general management/operations training programs like a GE.

  8. CallMeJoe says:

    gotcha.  i guess right now i should just focus on building my resume to match what top companies want over the next few years.

    btw michael, i read your blog…how was the tom petty concert?  i wanted to see U2 at madison square, but couldn’t due to schedule conflicts.

  9. HeatherLeigh says:


    Wine-Oh and Michael are giving you some good advice here and good for you for being bold enough to ask and strong enough to take it.

    So Wine-Oh is right. You should expect to take an entry level job. I also went to a good university, graduated from a top entrepreneur program and if I told you about some of the mind numbing work I had to do when I graduated, I guess you would be surprised (but I did master the art of addressing envelopes…whee!). At the time, because I didn’t have parental financing, my biggest concern was paying rent. In my case, there was no room for arrogance. Confidence was sometime even hard to muster.  So Michael is right, humble yourself and focus on entry level jobs where you can learn from others. Your "break" is likely to come after someone sees your good work, but probably not before.

    The other thing I wanted to mention was the importance of interviewing well for new grads. Now I don’t recruit new grads myself but I do have an opinion (on everything). With new grads, a bunch of them enter the market at once, they all are fresh with limited experience. The resume can get you the interview (again, though, probably for more entry level roles), but they are interviewing other people too. So you have to interview well to get the job. Based on the comment string above, I wonder if you do come off as a little over-confident, even though you don’t mean to. I’d definitely recommend toning things down a bit. Instead of saying "My communication and interpersonal skills are developed far beyond those of many corporate executives" (a statement that I believe could easily cost you the job), say "I have excellent communication skills; let me give you some examples". Or better yet, don’t tell them you have excellent communication skills, show them.

    Do you have someone in your life that can do a mock interview with you? A mentor, professor, parents friend? Someone who has a bunch of experience? Someone that is willing to give constructive feedback? That is what I would definitely recommend. If something is going wrong in the interview, you need to figure out what it is.

    So refine your interviewing skills and apply for entry level jobs and try not to get discouraged when you don’t get some of these either.  There are plenty of jobs that I have interviewed for but didn’t get. But if I did get them, I wouldn’t have ended up here, so I am OK with it….it’s a journey. Isn’t that zen of me?

    You know this really reminds me of what life was like when I was newly graduated and life hadn’t slapped me around yet. Luckily for me, the slapping commenced pretty much immediately upon graduation and lasted for about 3 years. Looking back, I’d wished that I had taken advantage of on-campus interviews, but at the same time, I learned a ton from the hard times. I learned that I was going to have to work really hard. Fifteen years later (holy cow!), that hasn’t changed at all.

  10. Wine-Oh says:


    I re-read some of your posts and you remind me alot of me 10 years ago, fresh out of college. I hope these posts are helpful to you. Your timing is rather interesting because I am faced with my own situation here. being an eager, willing to learn, well educated (graduated from the same school both undergrad and grad), artuclate person I am, there is no science or formula to interviewing.

    Like Heather, I experienced that life slapping. Still get it now and then. I just graduated with my MBA 5 weeks ago, and interviewing. In fact just this morning I was given an offer that I considered to be quite low (I made the same amount 5 years ago), and was told the MBA didnt matter to them. To me that was a proverbial slap in the face. I worked 2 years on that degree and felt that in one fowl swoop they erased it. While I havent said no, I am thinking of declining the offer. However the other part of me says "they are giving you a huge opportunity to prove yourself and in 6 months it will be irrelavent." Luckily I have the weekend to ponder this.

    My dream job is out there and I am 3 interviews into it. Its held up in some HR red tape thats out of anyones control. So I am wondering if I hold out and say no to the offer (well knowing it will be weeks before another offer), take the offer and set a start date, in the hopes the other comes through, take the offer and forget about the dream job, or say no and keep looking. Not sure what to do here. Heather/Heather’s Blog readers, any suggestions or thoughts?

  11. HeatherLeigh says:

    Don’t take the job if you still intend to look. If you accept, that company is going to decline other people, they are going to shut down the recruiting process for that position and those few weeks will really put them behind.

    Accepting a job and then having another come out of the blue is one thing, but if you are still interviewing and there’s any kind of known possibility that you can get another offer, you sholdn’t take the first one. I think you would be burning a bridge, there’s no guarantee you’ll get another offer in a timely manner and there’ a chance you’ll want that job offer again.

    You have to say yes or no and mean it.

  12. Wine-Oh says:

    Thats what I thought and feel too. But I wanted to be sure I was right in my thinking. Good to have the sounding board to throw things like this up there.

    As always I appreciate the quick feedback Heather. Im not about to burn bridges and cause a train wreck. Not the type of person to do that. I have a couple of days to accept it. So I have a lot of thinking to do this weekend.

  13. Dudley says:

    Joe, Joe, Joe…oh my.  If 1/10 of the arrogance (intentional or otherwise) you showed here was in a cover letter to me, your resume would hit the round file.  But, there’s hope, and it’s all semantics.

    "Now, I’m not one to toot my own horn"

    This is the verbal equivalent of a trumpet fanfare, if you catch my drift.  To the listener, anything that follows is you tooting your own horn.  Sort of like "I don’t mean to criticise, but…".  Avoid both phrases like the plague.

    Next tip: replace "impressive" with "exciting".  You don’t have impressive internship experience, you were honored to take part in a very exciting internship.  Passion, not puffery.  I’ll decide what’s impressive to me, and I don’t particularly care what impresses you about yourself (nothing personal).

    Avoid hyperbole, unless you’re being funny, and make damn sure everyone knows you’re being funny (easier spoken than written, since you can inflect your voice to express the humor).  Like HLH said, demonstrate your interpersonal and communication skills; I’ll decide if they’re good or otherwise.  Don’t mock your peers, they are the people hiring you.

    Ambitious nature + strategist + planner = conniving back-stabbing ladder climber.  Not what you meant to say, but that’s how it came across.  I’d prefer someone who is hard working and forward thinking.  Like I said, semantics.

    Focus on what you did with the star-up.  Remember that everyone and their brother has a star-up these days, and going from 1 customer to 2 is doubling.  Solid numbers are important here–size of customers, overall effect on business (increase in revenue, etc).

    Another option: volunteer for a non-proft, helping publicize an event.  Good experience, and good for the heart and soul, too.

  14. HeatherLeigh says:

    More good advice from Dudley. Joe, take it to heart but also in stride. I don’t think anyone here wants to make you feel bad about yourself. It’s more about the packaging of your skills than anything else. There’s nothing uniquely bad about youthful over-confidence but you do need to get past it. You can turn this around.

  15. CallMeJoe says:

    I appreciate all of the feedback and wonderful advice that is being given.  I will certain use this advice to better myself and my strategy for building my career.  Thank you very much!

  16. HeatherLeigh says:

    Hey Joe, check in with us and let us know when you land a position. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for you!

  17. Wine-Oh says:


    Out of curiosity, what is it that you are looking to do? What city are you in? If you are in NYC, I can give you a list of local tech/media job postings. Alot of them are for recent college grads, like yourself.

    Another suggestion, is get involved with networking events. Meet as many people as you can. At the risk of sounding like my mother (hi mom!) its very helpful. I wish I did this years ago. I am a newcomer to these types of events.  You never know who you are going to meet.

    Good Luck!

  18. HeatherLeigh says:

    Can you feel the love tonight? I can.

    Wine-Oh, you are a nice guy

  19. Wine-Oh says:

    Aww. Shucks. Thanks. I beleive in paying it forward (not such a good movie). But alot of people have helped me. Others havent, and I dont beleive in that.

  20. CallMeJoe says:

    haha, you are all very wonderful people.  Wine-Oh, I want to do corporate marketing (on the brand image side).  I am not limiting myself to a particular city.  I have a preference to be in Washington DC (family is there), but I am willing to relocate to any city for a position that can jumpstart my career.

    …thank you all so much for your help!

  21. Paul says:


    Since you are already out of school, and appear not to have gone through the on-campus interviewing (or to have found anything suitable), you are going to find it much harder to find the "corporate" marketing job with a big name company.  Most of them focus their attention on the pre-graduating interview rounds for getting college grads.

    For you, the most important thing is to get a job — any job — and get it soon.  You need experience to be of value to anyone, no matter how smart you are or how good you will become at what you do.  The longer you go without something, the more you appear to be a problem rather than a solution, and it will make the next step that much harder.

    That means you need to really crank up your effort (if you take longer than 3 months from today, that is too long right out of school) and maybe alter what your ideal position looks like.  

    I would strongly recommend looking at smaller companies.  As noted by another poster, they are less impressed by whether you went to Harvard (they’re impressed, but they don’t want to pay what Harvard grads expect) and more interested in finding someone quickly who will fit their culture and needs.  Proportionately, they have many fewer people knocking on their doors, but in total they have many more openings.  On the other hand, because each individual company is smaller and hiring fewer people at any given time, you have to knock on a lot more of their doors to find the openings.

    There are pros and cons to big vs small companies.  Big companies have much more support and therefore ability to learn from people around you.  They often have formal mentoring programs and sponsorship of continuing education (which you may consider a very valuable thing in a couple of years).  The biggest plus is that they are a known quantity in the jobs marketplace, and therefore look great on a resume.

    The downside is, you will be photocopying, emptying garbage baskets, fetching coffee, doing data entry — whatever low-level junk work someone else needs done — in order to earn the right to work on a couple of small projects that are more interesting.  The scope of your work will be much narrower than at a smaller company, but the scale and apparent import on your resume may be much larger.  (A big company budget to do a single campaign may exceed a small company’s budget for everything for a year.)  Big companies are much more bureaucratic and much slower to move, and are often very frustrating for people who prefer decisive action.

    Small companies, on the other hand, expect everyone collecting a paycheck to be a big contributor.  You will almost immediately be put on projects that are very important to the company, a lot of times in a "sink or swim" environment with little support from the corporate infrastructure (because there usually isn’t much of it).  But, if you are an independent and reasonably talented and resourceful sort, you will get the chance to shine and work on real campaigns with direct responsibility much faster than you will in a large company.

    If you are interested in the technology business, a small company will almost always have stock options as part of their compensation, which if you are one of the lucky ones, turns in to a lot more than the equivalent cash.  On the other hand, if your company doesn’t succeed or go to an IPO or a good merger, those options could end up being worthless.

    The biggest downsides are that you will have many fewer people to learn from and hone your skills, you will work on smaller projects with smaller budgets, and the company just won’t seem as impressive on your resume as working for Microsoft would, unless your company is the next Google or Flickr and experiences rapid growth and the name recognition that goes with it.

    On the other hand, you probably have a better shot at landing a job with a smaller company, and for you, I think this is the most important thing right now.

    I am making an assumption that you have an interest in the technology space since you are haunting Heather’s blog.  If so, the best place to look around DC is in the northern Virginia area.  Reston, Dulles, Alexandria, Fairfax County — there are a ton of technology-oriented companies (mostly software and telecom) in that area, and a good number of startups to midsize companies, where I think you would find more traction in your search.

    By the way, I agree with the other commenters here.  I think at some point all of us feel the frustration that we are as good or better than others out there, so why doesn’t everyone see that and want to hire you?  You need to absolutely get those thoughts out of your head.  Job hunting is a numbers game, plain and simple.  The more people you network with, the more letters you send (cold, not in response to ads), the more events you attend, the more online things you respond to, the more likely you are to find something quickly.  

    If you’re lucky, and you really crank up the volume of outbound inquiries, say 5 or 10 times greater than what you’re doing today, you may even find yourself juggling 2 or 3 offers at the same time, which is your ideal situation.  If you are making too few inquiries, you will take every rejection personally, and get discouraged, and you are less likely to have the laws of probability work in your favor.  

    You need to have a positive attitude, and one focused on what you can do for a potential employer, not on what accomplishments you have at the age of 22 before ever having a real job.  They may have involved a great deal of work, and given you a sense of pride, but Dudley is quite right — nobody else cares.  The employer decides what’s important, and if it appears through how you position your accomplishments that you are too full of yourself, you will keep on sending letters and attending interviews that do not yield results.  

    The one thing that is notable is that you helped a startup double their client base, however, even that is suspect if you claim 100% responsibility for that doubling, and if you do not give more precise numbers.  Going from 1 to 2 is doubling, but not really that impressive.  Going from 100 to 200 customers, with verifiable data that shows the increase of 100 customers was directly tied to your campaign is a lot more impressive.  And, it relates directly to a value that you can provide to a prospective employer.

    To Wine-Oh.

    I hate to say this, but I think deep down you already know it.  Having taken a couple of years off to complete an MBA, you lost some potential value to an employer if you wanted to stay on the same career track you were on before.  i.e. You aren’t employed now, you haven’t been for 2 years, and your knowledge that would have sustained a higher value has aged and maybe atrophied a little, despite now having a nice degree.

    What you need to look at is the quality of company and growth opportunities offered.  In many ways, you’re in the same boat as Joe, although with experience under your belt.  

    What is it you want to do next, and in 5 years?  If this helps you get there, then it may be the right thing to do, even though feeling like you’re taking a pay cut relative to 5 years ago may sting a little.  If it doesn’t get you there, and you think you have other opportunities coming, then declining politely is the right thing to do, although you are closing a door that can’t be easily re-opened.  If you aren’t confident that something else will turn up in short order, then make your peace with it, and commit to at least 12-18 months before you start looking again.  

    YOU NEED A JOB NOW.  (Sorry for shouting it, but the same goes for you and Joe.)  The next time you look, you will have a job and an MBA, and it will be much easier to make a jump.

    We often have to take a step backward in life to take 2 forward, and I think that’s what you need to look at.

    re: Working on an award-winning team (what this started off being about)

    Hey Heather, I know the positions you’re looking to fill here are a fair bit more senior than Joe would be able to fill, but he seems interested in this (or else why choose now to ask his question).   Any bones you can throw to Joe?  Do they need any young kids with spunk who have suffered the slings and arrows (and hopefully helpful advice) of your readers?

  22. Wine-Oh says:


    Here are some marketing websites you can look to. Most have job postings. (Heather is it OK to post these?)

    Marketing Sherpa- (New Jobs posted every Wednesday)

    Paid This site has profit and non profit jobs by industry. Being DC has a lot of gov’t agencies and such, its worth checking out.

    I would check with your school’s career center. I am sure NYU has theirs online. Companies are always looking for recent graduates.

    I would also check out the DC version of CraigsList. (click on jobs)

    There are always entry level marketing and brand positions listed.

    Two pieces of advice and I will leave you alone:

    Advice #1  to you is, if you have a dream company or companies, go onto their website, find the job section and see if theres any openings. Also you can write to them and ask for an informational meeting. Sometimes jobs arent always posted, or they may have a friend looking to hire someone and can reccomend you.

    Advice #2. Never leave an interview without the names of 2 or 3 other people that the interviewer can reccomend to you. You can say "Would you happen to know anyone else in the industry or of your contacts, looking to hire someone with my background?" and get their contact information. Thats the first step to networking.

    Best of luck! Keep us Heather readers posted.

    (Note to self: I ought to write a book on this or maybe a blog…. HMMMM!!!)

  23. Daniel says:

    Lol my brain switches off as soon as I hear that term. Usually the award is so specific that there are only 2 or 3 people competing. Such as the ISP awards – there are basically 3 ISP’s in control of the group that hands out the award, and they just pass it around every year really..

    sometimes companies just hand out these awards to themselves, just so they can be award winning..

    so what’s it like, working for the evil empire? has steve been throwing any chairs lately?

  24. HeatherLeigh says:

    Yowza…the world according to Paul ; )

    I’m not sure what "throwing a bone" means but I dont hire for entry level roles. Those happen through the college recruiting team via on-campus interviews. I’m really great at what falls within my purview but new grad hiring isn’t it. There are no bones to throw.

    Though Joe, I do think you should go back to your campus career center to see if you can get in on the next round of campus interviews and do some kind of work in the meantime; volunteer if you have to. Also, try temping. It’s how I got into recruiting. You’ll get a foot in the door and it’s great exposure.

    I don’t think it’s as dire as Paul’s comment makes it sound (I hostessed at a restaurant and then worked retail until I got a job in commercial property management…which I kept for 2 years). Frankly, I think I could have skipped the hostessing and been just fine. Yeah, I should have done on-campus interviews, but I don’t think that I was harmed in the long-run by being underemployed out of school. it wasn’t ideal but I was able to recover over time.

  25. HeatherLeigh says:

    Daniel-I provided a link to the award. Feel free to check it out.

    Working here is great and keeps me busy enough that I resist the urge to troll the blogs of our competitors employees. But that’s just me…yawn.

  26. Wine-Oh says:


    I think were on the same page here. You have some valid points.

    However I have to correct you on something, only because you dont know me, or the program I did. I was enrolled in an  program called the iMBA program at Syracuse University. What this program is for is those people who are mid career and are diligent enough to work full time and go to school part time in a distance learning program. We had class on campus 3x a year for a week, and the rest was done on our own time.

    For the first year I worked full time and took 3 classes a semester. Then my company had layoffs. Originally the program was to take 3 years, but I made a consious decision to finish the MBA in 2 years. I have gone non stop with no break since May of 2004. On the advice of some companies I met with, I was a better candidate to come in having finished the program and not be mid way. Some felt I would bolt for another job upon graduating.  

    Now flashforward to graduation, I am actively interviewing, and have the one offer so far. After much back and forth I have come to the conclusion that I am not going to take it and continue looking. There are some red flags with the position. The company has been way cool, and I do not see it as a closed door.

    I have some other things in the hopper I would like to see through that are more in line with my background. The other position was a total switch that would have been good 5 years ago for me. Yes I need a job, but its also my career. So if it take a little longer to find that right position, for me its worth it.

  27. HeatherLeigh says:

    Wine-Oh, good way to think about it.

  28. Paul says:

    Dire – no.  Urgent – yes.

    Heather, you are both talented and lucky, and therefore an exception.  It is easy to look in retrospect and see that you took a couple of years out of school before you ended up on a serious career path, and it all worked out.  I took some odd turns in my life as well, but I don’t think you could learn anything by it, except that if you are strong-minded, you can make your own way, against the flow.  That doesn’t work for most people.

    My advice to Joe is quite simple.  Time is wasting.  It is better to be doing anything than to be doing nothing, and honestly, as someone who has hired lots of people, if he doesn’t have something in 3 months, he’d better have a really good story to tell about why (e.g. I was travelling in China for 3 months, and trying to learn Mandarin).  Of course we can recover from missteps, but it’s better not to take the misstep in the first place.

    So, yes, that is the world according to me, with apologies to your other readers.  I have to admit, I had no idea how long and strong that got until after I saw it posted — stream of consciousness can be an scary thing — but I stand by it.  (I’d put my own smiley here, but you know how much I dislike them.)

    Wine-Oh.  There must be a story behind that moniker.  Maybe Heather will allow you to tell us why you call yourself that?  

    Detecting bad vibes is good.  Also good that you have the confidence to to say no when the fit is wrong.  Carry on.

  29. HeatherLeigh says:

    Hey Paul, we can disagree. I worry about the "take anything" perspective because I stayed in blah jobs for much too long because it was safe. These were my "take anything" jobs and it set me back.  If it takes him longer to find something he’s passionate about, I think that is reasonable. He can do *something* in the meantime, but still look for something he’s excited about.

    OK, I have to ask, speaking of pet peeves: how do you perceive that I have been "lucky"? I’m not saying I’m the most successful person, but I worked my butt off to get where I am. This is just a personal thing for me, but when people imply that my success (however much I’ve had), had something to do with luck, it’s a little concerning (that’s not the right word). I don’t think anyone gets their job by pulling a ping-pong ball out of a black velvet bag. I almost feel like the lucky moniker is a little begrudging.

    I certainly feel fortunate to have had the opportunities that I have (though I spent 8 years in the working world before I got to Microsoft…some of those years were the opposite of fun…most of them, in fact), but I have worked for everything I have gotten. I really don’t even feel  like an exception. I was pretty much a blank slate when I graduated from college…with no idea what I wanted to do. With no financial means. No car. Not a particularly impressive GPA. Frankly, I feel like I was at a disadvantage.

    Anyway, I am not lucky. I’ve just worked hard, developed a career plan, and took advantage of the right opportunties when they came my way. That’s all. ANYONE can do that. If anything, I’d say patient and hard-working more than talented and lucky.

    Arrgggghhh, luck.

  30. Wine-Oh says:


    Im happy to actually. I like wine (for the record I dont drink it that much). Heather had a posting about her experience about I was in a witty mood that day and the name stuck. Simple as that.

  31. Wine-Oh says:

    I didnt see Heather’s posting about luck until now. As you know I turned down the position i was offered. One big red flag was talking to someone at this company who they fast tracked. He had no experience whatsoever for what this place was looking for. He said point blank to me he was lucky and people left and he asked to take on their roles. He kept saying luck this and luck that. That worked for him, great. But luck catches up. Its about hard work and determination too.

  32. HeatherLeigh says:

    Oh Wine-Oh..I am so glad you didn’t take that job. Lucky you…oops, I mean smart ; )

    Even with that person, I guarantee it wasn’t luck. Perhaps laziness on the part of his boss? Perhaps he’s an expert butt kisser? Maybe they saw a ton of potential and enrergy in him. The fact that he refers to himself as lucky makes me think that whatever he’s done to get to where he is…it ain’t pretty and/or he’s not too aware of it.

    Of course, I do feel like people throw around the term lucky very loosely. Using the word luck makes it sound like 1) he’s undeserving and 2) not particularly self-aware. Using with an interview candidate? Making them feel like the promotion schedule is based on "luck"…what was he thinking?

    I can’t stand it…I hate that word.

  33. Wine-Oh says:

    Amen Sister!

    Its a stupid word. I dont think this particular guy is lucky. I think he is stuck in a nightmare. While I admire someones tenacity and willingness for hard work and wanting to succeed, it does not stem from luck. 3 people left that company and the work had to get done by someone. It fell on his desk and he had to dive in and do it. Thats not luck. Thats my worst nightmare. Besides who in their right mind wants more work. THats like the kid in school who tells the teacher she forgot to assign homework that night. You want to kill the kid on the playground after.

    Im a big believer in fate. Things happening for a reason. With that comes hard work and proving yourself, and not taking on more than you can handle. I avoid sink or swim type situations as if they were a food I cant stand to eat.

  34. HeatherLeigh says:

    I’m not even sure I believe in fate. I do believe in coincidence, though. Being in the right place at the right time is even balanced out by all the times we are in the right place at the wrong time and don’t event know it.

    It’s somewhat random. I think awareness of where you are, what is going on and the opportunities that are being presented is key (plus all the hard work, of course). I don’t think you can be successful without that.

  35. Paul says:

    So what is the difference between being lucky and being fortunate?  Maybe you are defensive about it because there are lots of people who don’t put themselves out, but look jealously at others’ success and attribute it all to luck.

    I don’t.

    Hard-working people can and do make their own luck, but just because you’re hard working and make good choices, it doesn’t always mean that a plum opportunity will land in your lap (or be offered, even if you sought it out).

    You are lucky you live in the United States.  You are lucky to have, by whatever twists of happenstance, ended up in a field where your skills are put to very good use.  You are lucky to enjoy your work.  You are lucky you have the skills and perseverance to do well.  Substitute the word fortunate if you like.

    I’m not diminishing your accomplishment.  I’m not saying that you didn’t work your butt off and earn the opportunity.  But chance does play a part in each of our lives, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.  You are lucky that early choices did not impair your opportunity to land a great job with Microsoft.

    I liken it to playing backgammon.  Backgammon is interesting because it is the purest combination of skill and chance.  Those who lack skill will always attribute the consistent winning percentage of a good player to luck.  The good player knows that luck is involved with any individual win or roll of the dice, but over the long haul, understanding how and when to take chances — how to use probability in your favor is what enables him to separate the lesser player from his money.  What’s particularly interesting is that at the upper echelons, the differences between players are so tiny that most lesser players cannot detect them, and yet, the very best will consistently win over the second and third best.

    I have no problem attributing some of my success to luck, but anyone who thinks that they can emulate what I have done without working hard and taking advantage of the opportunities that are put in front of them is foolish, and destined to fail.  From the sounds of it, I would put the guy that Wine-Oh spoke to in this camp.

    I don’t think we are that different.

    Wine-oh:  That’s too simple and not nearly salacious enough.  You’re going to have to come up with a better story.  Wine is a good thing though.  And, earning enough to afford the good stuff is a powerful motivator.  Good luck. (gees, I did it again).

  36. HeatherLeigh says:

    Paul-you nailed it in your first paragraph. That’s exactly it.

    I think that "luck" implies there’s some force that causes certain things to happen to some people that don’t happen to others.

    For example, if someone says "you are lucky to work at Microsoft", I’d say that it’s not about luck. I worked hard to build experience that Microsoft would be interested in. The person that referred me knew I worked hard and thought MS might be interested in my background (disclosure: my relationship to this person was personal, not professional). Do I feel "fortunate" to work here? Hell yeah. I feel fortunate that Microsoft appreciated my background then and appreciates my work now. I would have attributed it to luck if Microsoft entered all the resumes into a database and then randomly selected people to call. THAT would be luck. So I guess the difference between lucky and fortunate is that lucky means there’s an unseen force that has an impact. Fortunate, I think, implies that there’s an appreciation for what one has (regardless of the work it took to get them what they have). Like you said, someone can do that hard work and not get as far. More simply put, someone with the same background as mine (prior to MS) applying for the same job via the same channel who interviews as well as i did would also get the job. They would also be fortunate (if they felt so), but luck would not be involved. This is making my head hurt.

    Re: lucky I live in the US…I live in the US because my parents lived in the US. I don’t see "luck" being a factor. I feel "fortunate" to live in the US. I don’t want to get too much into theology or philosophy, but I don’t think that baby souls are queuing up and randomly (or by luck) being delivered to wombs. The factor that determined where I was going to live was predetermined…it was the fact that my parents were here. I will substitute the word fortunate for your statements above. I definitely see them as different things. I do feel fortunately, ***but that has more to do with how I feel about where I am than how I got here***

    "You are lucky that early choices did not impair your opportunity to land a great job with Microsoft. "…they could have, had I not invested the work in creating experience that Microsoft valued. Not lucky…work.

    Luck is not involved in backgammon..sorry, I just can’t buy into that. Someone may get batter rolls of the dice due to randomness or happenstance (good word), but there is no force making sure that one person gets better rolls than the other. The loser of the game can try to tell themselves that luck was to blame to make themelves feel better about losing, but no force exists that has any kind of interest inone person winning over another. You get the rolls you get and you do what you can with them to win.

    Hey, it might all be semantics. I too use the word "luck", as in "good luck" when really what I want to say is "good fortune"…or "I hope your outcome is good"…not that I think some force has an impact.

    Interesting conversations…Paul, you are one of the few that’s willing to indulge me in this kind of stuff. Lucky me (haha!).

    I can confirm that Wine-Oh’s appearance on this blog occured during the discussion. I’m with him on his story. I suspect he used the moniker to get involved in the relevant conversation without any knowledge that he’d be sucked into the vortex of this blog for a longer period of time.

  37. Wine-Oh says:

    LOL. Actually is it coincidence or fate that brought me to this site to learn more about Microsoft? 🙂

    Luck is not getting stuck in the middle seat on a 6 hour airplane ride!

    Luck is the cahsier that opens up just as the lines at the supermarket are down the frozen food aisle and you are the first in the new line.

    Luck is having that extra doggie bag with you on a long walk.

    I see your point about fate and coincidence Heather. Maybe a better way to say it is to say "I beleive in things happening for a reason."

    At the same time I beleive in perserverence and the idea that if someone says you cant do something and you think you can, by all means keep on trying. Part of my motivation in life comes from this. Having grown up with a learning disability and having some teachers and even a couple of professors in college say to me I should drop out. It fueled me to work harder and learn what I had to in different ways. Another reason why I chose my MBA program. Bottom line is that if you want something in life and your willing to work hard, then anything is possible.

    I apologize for being a bit Dr. Phil there for the moment.

  38. HeatherLeigh says:

    yeah, see, I don’t think all things happen for a reason. Most of those things you call being lucky are just "happensrance" (thanks to Paul for the word I was looking for). No force is conspiring for you to get the middle seat. Now the poop bags, that’s totally about preparation. Always have extra poop bags!

    I’m with you on the perserverance thing, buddy. Shame on those teachers and professors. Some people in life just aren’t believers (I don’t mean that in the religious sense, by the way). I guess I mean believers in the human spirit. Have you contacted them to tell them they stink. I’d have a hard time resisting if I were you. On the flip side, it’sa strong person that moves forward *despite* what others say. It’s easier when people are cheering you on.

    You aren’t getting all Dr. Phil, don’t worry. Sharing stuff that touches your life is what it’s all about my friend!

  39. Paul says:

    Yes, the vortex.

    Ok, I get your drift, but you are attaching too much meaning that isn’t there.  Luck is not about a force.  It is probability, plain and simple.  And probability is neutral in the long run.  That’s why working hard works – you influence the probable outcome by your actions, but you don’t control it.

    Definition from Collins English Dictionary:

    luck: fortune, good or ill; chance

    i.e. if there is a 30% chance you will get cancer from smoking for more than 25 years, then I will wish you good luck, hoping that you are one of the 70%.  By the way, my dad has smoked 2+ packs per day for over 50 years, and shows no signs of health problems.  Don’t know about you, but I’d call that lucky.

    In any case, sometimes a word is just a word.  Doesn’t have any extra meaning, and none was implied, at least not on my part.

  40. HeatherLeigh says:

    Miriam Webster dictionary: 1 a : a force that brings good fortune or adversity

    If probability is neutral in the long run, then how is it that some people are considered "lucky" and some "unlucky"?

    Re: smoking…I’d call that fortunate and random, or else based on medical situations. I’m OK with things happening for a reason we are unaware of, but refuse to ascribe it to "luck" for lack of another reason. Would you tell someone who didn’t smoke but got lung cancer that they got it because they were unlucky? I sure wouldn’t! I’d attribute it to some errant cells, some environmental condition, genetics or something. But luck? Uh-uh.

  41. Wine-Oh says:

    I have not gotten back in touch with those professors. Some saw me at graduation back in the day. I am sure they read the updates in the alumni newsletter. If anything it motivated me to work harder. What goes around, comes around.

  42. HeatherLeigh says:

    You are more mature than I am ; )

  43. Paul says:

    Never believe an American dictionary.  They are far too imprecise with the language:

    OED will give it to you as a secondary meaning, but the focus is still on chance:

    Luck:  • noun 1 success or failure apparently brought by chance. 2 chance considered as a force causing success or failure. 3 good fortune.

    The way probability works is like this.  If I toss a coin once, and bet on heads and win, then I had good luck, because there was an equally likely chance that I would get tails.  However, in the long run, say over 1000 coin tosses, if I bet that I would have more than 450 heads, that would not be luck if I won, because there is a near 100% chance of that outcome.  (However, it would be very bad luck if I lost).

    Given that almost everything we do is governed by chance (do you know with certainty who the next person you will meet is?), and chance is compounded with every single event, there is by definition an element of luck in life.  However, as I pointed out before, your own actions can influence the probable outcomes.  If you add a weight to one side of the coin, it will change the probability of heads coming up.  Your actions, if deliberate and well-thought out and directed, can strongly change or reduce the element of luck in the outcome, therefore.  Moreover, other factors like talent, intelligence, enthusiasm and perseverance also play a role.

    However, let’s take a real world example.  Had Bill Gates not been approached by IBM to provide the OS for the IBM PC, do you think he would be the world’s richest man today?  I have no doubt he’d be successful, maybe even 5th or 6th richest, but without the chance element of IBM deciding not to build their own OS, I doubt he’d be at the pinnacle.  I’m not taking anything away from his business prowess or accomplishment.  He took the opportunity handed to him, and ran with it, and if he was incompetent, he could just as easily be another also ran, like the folks who ran Digital Research, for example.

    Do I begrudge Bill his success because today’s outcome depended on IBM’s need for an OS?  Absolutely not.  Bill clearly had talent and vision, and there is no doubt his company would have succeeded at some level.  Was he lucky that IBM made the decision to buy rather than build?  Absolutely.

    So, luck — that is the chance element — influences the degree of success.  How many chips you end up with at the end of the game.  But, in the long run, it rarely affects whether you are a winner or a loser.  (Unless you are driving down the highway and a semi suddenly crosses the median and hits you head on).

    You don’t have to believe in "the force" to understand that probability is the way the world works.  In fact, some people believe that if it was possible to know where every atom was at an instant in time, you could predict with 100% certainly the future of the universe because it is predetermined by existing states and forces.  However, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle (see says the opposite.  It is impossible to know both the position and momentum of a particle at the same time.

    The same applies to other factors, even genetics.  Having a genetic predisposition to cancer or diabetes, for example, doens’t necessarily mean you will develop either.  There is some external trigger (a chance event) that turns the potential into reality.  That is luck, or bad luck, depending which outcome you get.

    The work ‘luck’ is actually much more appropriately applied to the outcome of a single event, like the one coin toss that I described at the beginning.  It does not usually apply to a long string of events (i.e. life) unless there are an immense series of improbable outcomes.

    And, to wrap it all together, just think how lucky the few who get chosen to be part of your award-winning marketing team will be to get that opportunity.  Whether or not they are successful with it will be up to them, but they can’t control with any degree of certainty whether or not they get the chance.

  44. HeatherLeigh says:

    Yeah, you and I see luck working differently.

    I don’t think that BillG being approached by IBM was based on luck. Did they open the phone book to a random page, drop their finger on an entry and call it? No. They contacted Bill for a reason; they knew something about him. That has nothing to do with chance. It doesn’t even match with your proper British OED definition.

    Nobody will be hired into the market research group based on luck, I can assure you of that. If that were the case, my job would be a lot easier and I’d have plenty more time to blog and get my nails done. Whether or not they get the chance to work in the group has to do with whether they take the initiative to contact us, whether they are in a place we look for that type of talent, how strong their resume looks relative to the needs of the position and how well they perform on the interview. No luck involved.

    We don’t need to keep debating this since we disagree on the definition of luck. I’m totally cool with us not agreeing. But I feel like it’s kind of going around in circles at this point.

  45. Paul says:

    Yeah, that’s fine.

    I just wanted you to understand that just because someone says you had good luck, it’s not necessarily a put down, although I will concede that many people who "believe in luck" are superstitious and are as likely to label a floor in a highrise as #14 when it’s really 13, or toss salt over their shoulder, or avoid cracks in the sidewalk, etc.

    You did miss one subtlety though.  I didn’t say that picking Bill was lucky.  I said the decision to buy versus build (the chance event) was what was lucky.  Once the decision was made, Bill had the better total solution.

    Same with market research (it’s the prior event that is luck-based), although your researchers better have a strong understanding of how probability works.

  46. HeatherLeigh says:

    Agh Paul! I’m done! ; )

  47. Saxy says:

    I had just stumbled on this blog via a Google search tonight and, boy, what a wealth of information in relation to my current situation! This is fantastic!

    I’m still another year or so out from graduating with a BA in Business Admin & Marketing and my part-time bank teller job is becoming very disenchanting. I appreciate it as a ‘good’ job while I’m going to school but it’s definitely not where I want to be in the future. I’ve been investigating some marketing internships and I hope to land one in the coming months. I’ll have to rely on my enthusiasm and sincere interest in marketing because I only have one marketing course under my belt so far (with more to come, of course), which might create a big challenge for me to be a competitive applicant. It never hurts to apply, though!

    Bed time now, but I’m bookmarking this site so I can finish reading all of these great comments. Thanks so much for the excellent insight!

  48. HeatherLeigh says:

    Sure, Saxy! Good luck applyiing for internships!

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