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Adopt These 5 Habits to Stand Out at Work

Grab a pen and paper and prepare to take notes because we're talking about 5 habits that'll impress your boss and can help land you on their short-list for raises and promotions!

The truth is: you can’t just waltz into a review meeting, ask for a raise, and assume it’s going to be given to you - it takes some intentional work in the months leading up to your ask; and that’s what we’re going to dig into today.

In this episode, I share the 5 simple-to-implement but powerful things you can do at work to position yourself for success, specific examples of what's worked well in my own career, and the story of the time I told a potential employer that I was unqualified… and why he hired me anyway.

If you want the lowdown on what kind of raise you should be requesting and some guidance on how to decide on your plan for actually getting your target number, check out Episode #5 for a deeper dive into the specifics of what I’ve done in the past to secure my biggest salary bumps.


Let’s take it back to the summer of 2014. I was living in Dallas at the time, but I knew in my heart that I belonged in Austin so I was relentlessly hunting for jobs that would take me there.

I had heard an interesting statistic about men versus women and how men are much more likely to apply for jobs that they may not be qualified for, whereas women are more likely to only apply for jobs that they know they’re for sure qualified for, or are even overqualified for.

With this in mind, I was applying for positions that were either at the upper end of my skill set, or even slightly beyond my skill set and, in one particular case, I was on an interview where this almost backfired. I was talking to the interviewer, who has since become a friend, and he was working for Cisco, which is a big tech company based in California.

He was the manager of the Product Marketing Cloud Team and he was asking me about the technical mechanics of cloud and, even after years in tech, this is something I still don’t fully understand so, back then on that particular interview, I was so confused that I couldn’t even come up with an answer that was remotely close to what he was asking me.

So I told him that.

I told him: I’m sorry to have wasted your time, but I’m not sure I’m qualified for this position. I’m really not a technical person. He said it was okay, that I wasn’t wasting his time, and that he appreciated me taking the interview anyway.

A few days later, I was incredibly shocked to receive an email with an offer from Cisco and a note from the interviewer asking when I would be able to talk. When we got on the phone again, he told me that the reason he decided to offer me the job instead of many of the other people who got on the phone and told him they COULD do what he was asking was because you can’t teach honesty.

He said he could teach me all the other things I needed to know, but the fact that I was willing to admit that I didn’t understand what he was asking me on the interview was a sign that I had integrity, and he’d much rather hire someone that he knew had that trait versus someone who said they could do the job, but may have been exaggerating their skillset.

Since he hired me at Cisco, he later hired me again to work at a smaller more start-up type business, and when we both left that company, he offered me a position at a third employer - but it was around that time that I decided I wanted to work for myself… in any case, my honesty definitely paid off.

The point is this: honesty is always the best policy and it’s something that will get you noticed by colleagues and managers - even if what you have to share doesn’t feel like the best news.

By telling the truth, you save people time, you create an environment where you can course-correct quickly, you save the company money, and being known as someone who will be honest no matter what, even when it’s hard, is something that will definitely gain your manager’s attention and, more importantly, their respect.


The next habit is my favorite and, in my opinion, this is the #1 best way to position yourself to get on your manager’s short-list… and that’s to spend your time on goal-focused work.

You may have heard of the Pareto Principle…I love this so much that it’s currently the background on my phone. If you haven’t heard of it or need a refresher, it goes like this: 80% of outcomes are driven by 20% of efforts.

This basically means that if you can get good at ultra-focusing in on what’s important (the 20% of things that are really important) then you’ll see great results.

In order to get ultra-focused on what’s important, you need to get your 3 big goals for the quarter from your manager. If you’re one of the lucky ones, then your company has a process in place where, every quarter, leadership sets goals, then your manager will set goals for your team that align to the leadership’s goals, and your manager will work with you to set 3 goals for yourself that align to your team’s goals.

But the truth is, many companies are not that organized… so it’s on you to make sure you ask for them.

And you may have to ask more than once… but seriously, be persistent about this. Tell your manager you want to make sure what you’re spending your time on are things that actually matter for your company’s goals… they’ll like hearing this and they’ll be more likely to make an effort to get guidance from their higher-up’s if they need it so that they can ultimately give you YOUR three big goals for the quarter.

Once you’ve got your three goals, make sure that every single thing you work on aligns to hitting those three goals. I know we all struggle with things popping up unexpectedly or, if you’re like me, then you’re a yes-person, but you’ve got to reel that back in because every time you say yes to something, you’re saying no to something else.

Time is a limited resource, so if you’re spending time on things that don’t actually align to your three big goals, you’re losing time that you’ll never get back that you could be using to get closer to those goals, and ultimately moving you closer to the big professional and financial goals you’ve set for yourself.

Pro-Tip: if someone (even a VP at work or someone high up in your company) comes to you and asks you to do something that doesn’t align to your goals, let them know that you’re currently laser focused and maxed out on the 3 big goals you’re working on for the quarter that will make a big impact for the company, but if their request is important enough, you’re open to a conversation between the two of you and your manager in order to remove one of your current 3 goals to make space for the new request this person is making of you.

We’re all maxed out… so do not take on more things without being clear with others that if you’re going to take on something else, you need to take something off your plate in order to make space for it.

The big lesson here is around productivity and, specifically, how working on the things that matter most will result in the biggest impact and ultimately help you to work LESS. If you want to learn how to be even BETTER at this, check out the six strategies I outline in the blog post called How I Tripled My Productivity in 2 Months.

And if you are one of those people who feels hesitant about pushing back when people ask you to take on more, know this: even though you may feel like you’re being difficult, you’re not… you’re making sure you’re being productive and efficient and, if you do it politely and respectfully and verbalize your intention that you just want to make sure you’re working on the top 3 things that will make the biggest impact for the company - your manager will take notice, in a good way.


After what you just read, you may not feel like that behavior is one of a team player, but let me help you reframe your mind because, again, as long as you’re polite and respectful and make it a point to say you’re just trying to do what’s best for the company, no one is going to think you’re being difficult… you’re literally saying you’re trying to do what’s best for the company (i.e. everyone), and if you’re trying to do what’s best for everyone, that’s literally the definition of being a team player.

Other ways to be known as a team player are to be present in meetings; I know you may think no one notices when you’re not paying attention on a call or are pinging a friend or scrolling social behind the safety of a cameras-off Zoom call, but trust me: they can tell.

Put your phone on airplane mode, put your chat on Do Not Disturb, and lean into the meeting. Pay attention, contribute where you can, and if you realize it’s not something you can contribute to, consider asking your manager if it’s something you can remove from your calendar in the future in order to better focus on the 3 goals you’ve set for the quarter.

Be sure to share ideas, information, things that work well (and things that don’t!), be friendly, be inclusive and approachable, and be helpful without compromising your own work boundaries. Create a reputation where you’re someone who is easy to work with; don’t complain, adopt a ‘can do’ attitude, and try to have a general sense of optimism.

I read a quote recently that says: optimism is an intellectual choice - and I agree. You can always choose to look at the bright side and, when things aren’t so bright, be willing to help put a plan in place to course-correct.

In general, be a person that you’d like to be around… because if you’re that kind of a person, your manager will enjoy being around you, too. They’ll be more likely to think of you when opportunities arise, and they’ll be more inclined to put your name on the short-list for the good stuff.


This is a habit that's easy to forget, especially in a professional environment - and that’s to treat your manager - and really any colleague or any person - like a human.

How you go about this will depend on the type of manager you have because if they tend to be ultra-professional it may not work, but I encourage you still to try and what I mean by this is to just try to get to know them a little bit more regarding aspects OUTSIDE of work.

Ask them about their families, learn their kids’ names, or their pets’, or their hobbies. Asking them about things they care about will help you create a closer relationship with your boss beyond just work; it will help you foster connections that will make your job more enjoyable and is likely to help you succeed.

Something else I love to do and that works well even if you do have a manager who is more on the professional-only side is to send them your personality test results. My favorite time to do this is when I’m switching teams or employers or if I get a new manager - generally any time that I have a new boss, but you can still do it even if you’ve already had your boss for a while now.

I’ll typically send them two slides… one with a few photos of myself, my husband, our pets, and a couple of my interests, and the other with 4 columns: one column that lists my hobbies, and then 3 that show the results of 3 different personality tests.

There are so many personality tests out there, you can pretty much take any one you want and drop the results in… the ones I’ve used are TeamSpace Snapshot, Meyers-Briggs, and Quiet Revolution.

If you’re sending this to a new manager, let them know that you’re looking forward to working with them and that, as a way to get to know each other better off the bat, you’re sending them the results to your personality tests.

If you’re sending this to an existing manager, let them know that you’ve recently taken some personality tests and you found the results interesting and, although they probably have a good sense of the best ways of how to work with you already, you thought it would be helpful to share this to strengthen the relationship even further.

In both cases, don’t forget to ask them what their personality test results are, too! People inherently love talking about themselves and this is a good opportunity to learn more about your boss and how to best work with them.

By sharing your results and receiving your manager’s results, you’re working to create an environment where the two of you can work together in the best way possible - and you’re probably making yourself stand out because a lot of people don’t do this.


The final habit to adopt in order to make your manager notice you is to over-communicate because people would rather have too much information than not enough, and checking in with your boss often keeps you top of mind.

However, don’t just pop in for the sake of popping in… when you check in with them, make sure your updates are succinct and of value. If they’re managers, they’re probably super busy so keep your updates short, and make sure they align to things your managers care about (ideally, your progress on the 3 big goals you have for the quarter).

These updates are also a good place to ask for support for any roadblocks keeping you from moving toward your goals, however, be sure to try to resolve those conflicts on your own first and mention what you’ve already tried before going to your manager for help - bosses tend to respect people more that attempt to resolve problems before coming to them for help.

If regular updates aren’t already part of your system, tell your boss it’s something you’d like to try and ask them how often they’d like to receive an update and in which format. Some managers like a quick phone call, while others are good with a quick email.

I personally love a quick email on Monday mornings with a list of my big 3 goals and 3-5 bullet points of what I’ve been working on to hit those goals, then if there’s ever a roadblock I can’t work through myself, I’ll set up a 15-minute call with my boss to talk through so I have the space to share what I’ve already tried, why it didn’t work, and what I think my boss could do to be helpful… trying to talk through that in an email would result in a super-long note so a quick phone call is best, in my opinion.

But remember to ask your manager the type of communication they prefer and the frequency; at the end of the day, if they have a preference, it’s best to honor that.

And definitely be sure to get into the habit of setting up those quarterly reviews where you’ll show up with everything you’ve done to hit your big 3 goals, all your metrics, what went well, where you can improve, and more. You want to be proactive about identifying areas that worked and things that didn’t; your boss will respect this.

Just remember - your quarterly reviews are arguably the most important meetings you’ll have, so make sure they’re happening.


While productivity is incredibly important in making sure you’re on track for success in your job, and I highly recommend you read the blog post I wrote on How I Tripled My Productivity in 2 Months, these specific 5 habits can go a long way in helping your manager notice you and getting that name of yours on their short-list for the things that can help your bank account do a happy dance.

Remember, these are the habits that will make you stand out and really help increase your chances of landing a promotion or salary increase, however, oftentimes you’re still going to have to ask for exactly what you want and, while that can feel scary, by ASKING for specifically what you need in terms of your pay rate and providing the proof that you’re worth it, you’re much more likely to actually be successful in your ask.

If you’re ready to implement the 5 habits we talked about in this episode AND get the step-by-step plan on how to increase your chances for success in landing a pay raise, don’t miss out on my free resource, The Ultimate Make More Money Starter Kit.

The Ultimate Make More Money Starter Kit holds your hand as you walk through 3 decisions you’ll need to make in order to be ready to secure a pay increase. It walks you through what’s a realistic target number that you’d feel great about, deciding on whether to stay in your current job or find a new one, and what your walk-away number is, a.k.a. the absolute minimum amount you’re willing to accept before walking away from a job or potential opportunity.

Once you’ve made these 3 key decisions, you’ll have an action plan on how exactly to go about landing the pay you want, and the evidence you need to convince even the most doubting of managers that you’re worth it.

If you want an even better experience, listen to Episode #5 with The Ultimate Make More Money Starter Kit in front of you; Episode #5 is essentially the audio-companion to The Ultimate Make More Money Starter Kit so it can help you stay focused and on-track as you work through it

I have no doubt in my mind that if you implement the 5 habits we discussed today and pair it with the 3 decisions outlined in The Ultimate Make More Money Starter Kit, you’ll have your manager’s attention, respect, and a specific plan to help you get paid what you deserve.




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