It’s in the presentation, don’t serve on a garbage can lid.

You can smell it, can’t ya?

You can smell it, can’t ya?

Ever feel like you’re always fighting everyone else? Each time you offer your thoughts on that new project. Or when you make a suggestion of a new idea. Does it seem like everyone is acting against you?

It could be the environment -- you could be in an organization that is absolutely resistant to change. They’ve fallen in love with how they’ve done things and resist anything other than the status quo. 

Or it can be you. You can appear to be a ‘know-it-all’ or have no idea what you’re talking about, so people avoid your suggestions. Or you can just be not liked because you appear to be unpleasant in your interactions.

I had a friend who recently shared with me her revelation at work. She was smart, hungry, and driven, but she was becoming more and more frustrated in the workplace. She felt that her experience and knowledge wasn’t appreciated and her co-workers and boss have made her irrelevant.

“Why?” I asked her. I thought she was a pleasant individual who was deeply caring of her family and friends. She, admittingly responded that she was oftentimes too direct with her co-workers and wasn’t warm at work; she felt since she was so frustrated at the environment, she was always seemingly in a sour mood and unwilling to interact with her coworkers. 

On the other hand, she mentioned a much junior associate in her firm, who always seemed to be embraced and accepted by others. She was always smiling and exuded optimism; even though she didn’t have the years of experience on the job, she was able to relate to others and hence able to influence their actions, naturally.

I am completely against Bill Cosby's actions as a sex offender, but I am fond of an old Cosby Show episode where Cliff Huxtable (Bill Cosby) shares his perspective on the presentation.

He says (paraphrased):

“Imagine a freshly grilled porterhouse steak, nice, fat, and juicy with sautéed mushrooms and onions on top. With a side of fresh veggies and some crisp potatoes. Ummm… boy. You can smell it, can’t ya?

I’m going to present it to you, so I take a garbage can lid, turn it upside down, and place your steak, mushrooms, and potatoes on top to hand it to you. Not too appetizing, is it?”

Your content may be there. It could be a really great idea that saves the company millions, but it’s all about how you present it to your audience and co-workers. If you have the interactions and reputation already developed as a friendly, honest, approachable individual, you will have a far easier time getting your message heard.

So my friend, upon this realization, challenged herself. She said given her situation, she’s going to start with a smile, a “hello”, and a “thank you.” Start being a bit warmer in the office and hold her tongue on negative comments. 

She’ll remember to grab that warm plate to serve dinner, not the garbage can lid. 


MilSpec Capital is a boutique headhunting firm that connects High-Impact Veterans to our client companies in various industries. Our Veterans typically have 5-15 years of private sector experience, in addition to their successful track record of Leadership.

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