Be a Sawgot (SWGTD)

Are you a “sawgot,” Someone Who Gets Things Done?

If you’re not now, what would it take?

With an ever-shifting economy, and all of the challenges in the job market, I can think of few skills more universal than being a sawgot.  Because when it’s crunch time and something absolutely needs to happen, the people in charge look at each other and say, “OK, we need our ace right now.  The game’s on the line.”  And you want to be that ace.

Being a sawgot is about a mindset and an outlook: having the humility not to ask “why am I doing something that’s not in my job description?” and the wisdom to know that moment you’ve become the kind of person who reliably makes problems go away, you’ve become indispensable.

This is particularly valuable early in your career, when you’re looking to stand out.  If you work in the kind of organization that creates opportunities and moves quickly, the sawgot’s ability to move a project forward, on time and without (visibly) breaking a sweat is the kind of thing that gets you noticed (and if it doesn’t get you noticed, go work somewhere where it does).

Speed, accuracy, an ability to ask the right questions to get enough clarity to do what is being asked of you…these are the starting point.  There is also a trove of really basic skills that you just need to have – and which there’s no excuse not to have mastered by now.  You:

  • Create clean, attractive, simple slides in Powerpoint: few words, great images, tell a story (this implies some facility with Photoshop).
  • Generally “do stuff” with ease in Excel (this includes formulas and pivot tables and some data analysis and text-to-columns and Lookups).
  • Write clearly, concisely, quickly, and at the right level of detail
  • Manage projects against deadlines, and get things done early
  • Never let things fall through the cracks
  • Know how to create content for the web (including poking into the code here and there if you need to) – and are comfortable creating and sharing multimedia quickly and easily
  • Reliably create narratives from a set of inchoate inputs / sources
  • Know just a little bit more than your boss about what’s new and useful in the world, including but not limited to the online world

The skills allow you to dance at the party, but the sawgot’s ATTITUDE gets you in the door.  You don’t want to jump into so many things that you cannot do your day job, but if, right now, you’re not working on one or two things that you’d describe as, “this is outside of the scope of what I do, but it really matters that our team/group/organization/company gets this right,” then it’s time to put up your hand and say, “how can I help?” or “why haven’t you asked me to help?”

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Darn breakthroughs

Turns out they only happen after you’ve been chipping away for so long and working so hard, you almost forget what it felt like when you started.

Next chisel, please…

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