Around 2010, I received an air ticket to travel to Johannesburg for a job interview. I was so excited. I had applied for a job at a regional company. This was a second time, luck was smiling my way. Way back in 2007, a similar opportunity arose and I took it. I failed the interviews. When I send an email asking why I had not to go through the answer was simple: size. The panelists thought that the job needed someone bigger size than I was.
This time I worked on my leadership presence – you know trying to command the room. I invested in the art of presentation to influence. How to introduce oneself, follow up questions to ask a panel. An indicative PPT presentation to the panel on the first 90 days in case you got a job. And a personal story to tell to demonstrate experience and leadership acumen.
I did not expect what was in store for me.
My itinerary was such that I arrive in Jo’burg at about 10 pm local time. at about 11 pm, I received a phone call in my room. It was my host. They asked me to prepare to be at the interview at 5:40 am! It was a shocker.
Since I was in the country on the budget of my host, I had to adjust my expectations and be at the venue for the interview on time. I organized with the hotel for a wakeup call. I knew the jetlag could affect my natural clock. And I was right. At 4 am sharp, I was up.
At 5:10 am, I was entering the reception area.
At 5:40 am, I was ushered in the interview room – it was full of about eight (8) members. These were big people. I was surprised.
Based on the feedback, I impressed them a lot. No wonder, I was given an offer, which at the time I thought was not so fantastic. I just wanted the experience. I have always learned a lot from taking risks and offering myself for any challenges. This one was a great one. Because of a young family, and the fact that I would not move with my family until after two full years of working changed my mind. I think I made the right decision.
Why tell this story?
Later after the interview, I asked my host, the person who had shared my itinerary, why schedule an interview at 5:40 am? The answer was simple: many people waste the morning time in a traffic jam. If you can be in the office by 5 am, it means you have a three-hour advantage daily than the competition. If you can create a team culture of early risers, you will have succeeded in creating time, the resource that once lost is never recovered.
Any company can make more money. More products. But not another second or minute. Only by rising up early and going to bed late, you can have this scarce resource on your side.
To date, I try to be the first at meetings. To arrive early and wait. That way I get opportunities to speak with the staff. And the big man. Most of the time, I find the guest of honor alone at the venue and we get a one on one. By the time the rest arrive, we have already agreed and deal closed.
If you want to influence the conversation: be early.
Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2019. All rights reserved.