Do you show your initiative?

Ilise BenunI attended the opening keynote of the Mind Your Own Business Conference in New York last night and heard Scott Belsky, founder and CEO of Behance, speak on Making Ideas Happen, also the title of his recent book.

There’s one point he made that I can’t get out of my mind and that I think applies to all of us: freelancers, small firm owners and employees alike.

Judge initiative, not experience. In other words, when you are engaging someone to work with (or for) you, don’t rely on whether they have the requisite experience. Whether they happen to have done something related to what you need is almost arbitrary.

Initiative is much more indicative of someone who can get things done. Judge instead the level of initiative they take in their interactions with you. And ask questions that will reveal how much initiative they do (or don’t) take naturally.

Likewise, as a freelancer, if you don’t have the “experience” you think the client wants you to have, emphasize your initiative — not by talking about it, but by demonstrating it.

This came up with a young woman I know in Hoboken who is interviewing for a new job. They asked for a writing sample and gave her a choice of 3 topics. She asked which one I thought was best. I suggested she do all 3, precisely to show her initiative.

Is this something you’ve thought about? How do you show your own initiative?

BTW: Here’s an interview with Scott Belsky on the topic of his book.