Do Not Confuse Effort with Results (Issue 483)

In which we consider the advantages of presenting ourselves as our benefit rather than our job description or title.

Each time I sat in his office, a small bronzed desk plaque sneered at me.

“Do not confuse effort with results,” it hissed, securely bolted, passive, dead center front on his desk, 30 inches distant. Whatever the topic, the plaque stripped the varnish away. “Let’s look… at what you’ve d o n e.”

Segue to… a business gathering. You’re mingling with others. Someone turns to you and says, “Hello, I’m Fred Smith from Amoximated Company. What do you do?” You don’t know Fred, you don’t know what’s important to him or what he’s listening for. How do you respond?

With a result. The desk plaque’s legacy. You could say:

(1) “Hello. Fred, I’m a senior relationship manageer at ABC Company based here in the city. I manage our major account relationships in the consumer packaging industry. I work with a team of people who bring expertise from several important financial and technical disciplines to help our clients manufacture more efficiently.”


(2) “Hello, Fred. I work at ABC Company. I help consumer packaging companies reduce manufacturing costs five to ten percent.

The first one is an “EFFORT” description — a job title and job description, bland, passive, pablum. The second one is a RESULT — crisp, unapologetic, provocative. If Fred wants more discussion, the starting line is bold and clear. It begs the question, “Really, how do you do that?”

Listen, next time you’re mixing with others. What do you hear? Effort or results? “I sell office equipment. I’m a corporate banker. I’m an asset manager. I sell ball bearings. I’m a senior accountant at Knight and Day.” It’s all “effort” and job description.

To stand out, focus on your results. The benefit statements of you. And, if you can’t prove quantitative results, focus on how you help others achieve them. For example: The qualitative result, “I help business owners operate their companies more efficiently,” is stronger than the job description, “I’m a branch manager” or “I’m a Business Banker.”

Do not confuse them with your effort or your job title. Focus on your results.

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