The Ultimate Guide to Exploring Opportunities Outside of Your 9 to 5

The Interview:
You can’t hardly wait. The day is soon approaching when you sell yourself, your experience and what you can bring to a team. You are excited. It may be your first job, your dream job or your ‘I’ll take whatever I can get job.’ You lay out your clothes. Practice your best interview voice in front of the mirror and you are so nervous but you KNOW it is what you need to survive. My last job is the one I am currently in. I started as an entry-level
ticketing agent for an airline in 2011. I didn’t bring with me any experience at all. In fact, I was just fresh off getting fed up of not having a job. I had been jobless for about a year and really feeling the burn in my accounts, debts and life. I was living with my parents — in the basement, with my bed next to a diesel tank whose fumes released during startup. It was loud, rusty and became white noise as my years in the basement grew in length.
One day, an old middle school contact on Facebook announced that the airline she was working with was hiring customer service crewmembers in Newark International Airport. I quickly jumped on the opportunity and went through what seemed like a couple months of waiting, finger crossing, background checking and physical training. All this for $12.00 an hour.

I didn’t care though because I needed WORK. I needed to get myself back to taking care of myself and my personal needs. I didn’t have a car. I didn’t care. I didn’t have the background or knowledge, I didn’t care. I wanted to succeed even at $12.00 per hour.
Many of us — will look at 12.00 and say eff this. How much? Forget that! I am going to continue my unemployment benefits and wait for something spectacular to come my way. As if the CEO job will fall into your lap … forget it champ. Keep waiting. I decided very early to have a loose plan around my employment with the airline.

Here it was:
1. Learn everything
2. Do everything (even what I do not get paid to do)
3. Be dependable
4. Kill that CLOCK
5. Participate
6. Be predictable
See — here’s the best part. No one else came in with a plan like this. Not for 12.00. Not for shit. I started to sort out the good employees, the average ones and the great ones. I took mental notes of why someone was good and what made them great. Then I served the hell out of my peers. I served them sometimes more, if not better than I would serve the customers. It was easy to check in, smile, personalize and add customer service to our customers. That’s the easy part. Most of the time people go to their jobs and struggle with customer service but that’s because they were already shitty people. They always have a chip on their shoulder and they make excuses and complain to everyone about what the company is not doing for them. I stood clear of these types of people. Instead, I came to work positive, happy, chipper, and always had a great attitude. When a customer was having a hard time with my peers, I would step in and step up. I would go ALL in for the customer and tell my peer, that I am the leader of difficult customers. They would gladly step aside.

What happened is the customer sent notes in about me. How great I was. My peers praised me for taking over their work. Sometimes because they are lazy. Other times, it’s because they really appreciate a hand. I am in a JOB, but it was my work that I cared about. I used the JOB as a vehicle to enhance many qualities that I have boast today. But I was always thinking bigger. I knew there would be a day that I would be deployed instead of employed. I knew there would be a time where the seeds of my gifts would harvest beyond the 9 to 5. That day would come 7 years later.
Lessons about handling a JOB.
1. We all need to keep our lights on, food in our mouths, bread on our tables. Having a job will keep these things in good standing.
2. Go to a JOB to learn who you are. Get PAID to learn who you are.
3. Go to a JOB with a plan. If you don’t have one or don’t know why it’s needed. Just follow this structure. (Do more)


Since I was crushing it, my name was linked to the word promotion. Some people were scared to share what they wanted to do. Always keeping things on the hush. They do this because they are scared that when and if they don’t get a promotion, people will think differently about them. I didn’t care. I kept telling everyone that I’m moving up and nothing is going to stop me. I was vocal and overly confident. I interviewed for San Francisco and Chicago and was DENIED. It never stopped me. I kept making it known that I am capable, willing and ready to move wherever is necessary to take on more responsibility — ready to increase MY VALUE to the organization.

When you work — you are in preparation mode. Working is different from a job. A job is just a vehicle. How you work and the effort you put into work will reap rewards or not. If your work is shoddy, shifty, lackluster, lackadaisical, happenstance then you don’t get anything out of it except for complaints, confusion and unsuccessful products. You go home not feeling good. You know when you haven’t given your best. Your work shows it. At this point I am dedicated to my work. It was here that I started to read more, refine my communication, strengthen my designations. I created products within my scope that helped people. I created processes that made sense to the organization. I invested time with the customer. I invested time strengthening my leadership qualities. This was NOT my J-O-B. This was my work. My train rides home, I did work. My mornings and evenings I put in work. I started to noticed differences in me… there were seeds being harvested within me that allowed me to make better decisions and clean up my act. I became more ethical. I knew it was time to leave a mark. I was promoted to Supervisor of Airport Operations in Philadelphia.


When you have seeds inside you that create a constant churning of CHANGE inside you — it is called your GIFT. After being promoted .. I would spend my first 3 years in Philly trying to move up using the same plan I used when I first started. It didn’t work. I helped people. I helped customers. I helped my direct reports. I trained supervisors. I pushed and pushed and pushed but too bad I didn’t see it then, that this would be my final stop. I tried for promotions for: General Manager in multiple locations and everyone said the same thing. You are great, we LOVE you, but no.
That’s when I realize, that I was being directed to work on my GIFT. My time would come to an end when I would work for others and create a company that allowed me to live through my purpose and benefit a generation.
A JOB can come and go. Work can come, go and evolve but your GIFT …you cannot stop this seed from growing within you. Someone asked me what I will be doing now. I said — “I don’t know. I just know it is something that I must do” It is the next step in my journey of life to continue feeding a nation with tools to help them ACTIVATE what they already have within.
If you are beating down the wall just like I did …you may need to listen to yourself. There’s a door right there. You don’t need to go the hard way. Open that damn door! As I sit at my desk, I am starting the removal process. Removing my belongings … I never quite understood what it meant to have a JOB until I learned how my JOB promoted me to realize my GIFTS.

Go to your JOB to prosper.
Remain uncomfortable,
Stacy A. Cross