Reggie Love walked into the office of then Senator Barack Obama for what would be the biggest interview of his life. He was meeting with the future President’s Communications Director, Robert Gibbs, after applying for an internship on Capitol Hill. The Duke grad, who was a scholarship football player as well as a captain of the basketball team, couldn’t help but wonder how his work history would be viewed by his future employer. Having graduated with a degree in political science and public policy, Reggie decided to pursue his NFL dreams and had spent the last 2 years grinding to make a roster.
Clearly, his work history did not pose a problem. Reggie Love is now the personal aid to the President, or “body man” as he’s known in political circles. Starting at the bottom with a job description stating “take care of stuff”, Reggie quickly made his way to his current position as the right hand man for the leader of the free world. I first learned of Reggie Love while watching the NBC Special Presentation, “Inside the Obama White House”, a Brian Williams report, and was struck by a phrase he used to describe a common thread in the diverse staff of the President – “highly skilled and fiercely loyal”.
Highly skilled refers to having acquired mastery. While it is good to be well-rounded, people really want to see a demonstrated ability to master something. In fact, it may not even be necessary to have achieved mastery in the area in which you are looking to enter. Reggie had a foundational knowledge in politics from his degree, but his professional experience consisted of OTAs, mini-camps, and wide receiver film sessions. What he did possess, though, was the determination to work towards achieving mastery, evidenced by academic and athletic achievements.
Being highly skilled also requires development; natural talent can only take you so far, mastery requires dedication to become better. One of our values in action at Ambassador Solutions is “Learn Continuously”; we encourage our people to participate in the intellectual communities around them not only to gain skills but to share them with others. Social media, user groups, online forums, blogs – all of these are avenues you can use to develop your skills and demonstrate your mastery. Krista Sellery focused on social media in her article “The Social Media Conundrum” in our last issue of abuzz; it’s a good read.
Loyalty is defined by the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary as “unswerving in allegiance”; an allegiance is a commitment to something larger than you. Businesses want to hire employees who will carry a stake in the success of the whole, and clients what to buy from companies who they feel are not trying to sell to them just for the sake of adding to their bottom line. Reggie demonstrated his commitment to the Obama administration with his decision to accept an internship at a salary that paled in comparison to other offers, Goldman Sachs among them. He was not seeking financial success but instead wanted to be part of something larger than himself and was willing to sacrifice short term gains in order to build long term loyalty and success.
Employers and prospective clients are no longer satisfied with someone who can “hit the ground running”. They are looking for their “A” players – those highly skilled, fiercely loyal people who can help them gain ground.