“So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love” is the title of a book by Cal Newport, an assistant professor of computer science at Georgetown University. The basis of the book is that passion isn’t the driver of a great career; becoming an expert in your field is what will propel you to personal satisfaction.
Now why would I begin an article about attaining self-storage career goals by crushing the idea of professional passion? Because companies and customers generally pay people for what they know, not their fervency.
For example, I’m a huge New York Mets fan, and I’ve been one for longer than I can remember. Unfortunately, at this stage in my life, that’s as far as passion will take me. I’ll never be able to waltz into Queens, N.Y., and play third base for the Mets, nor will they take a chance and hire me to be their general manager. There’s no reality TV show or contest that will change that hard fact because passion doesn’t equal experience. (I still think I would make a great Mets manager, but opinions will vary.)
The self-storage industry is no different. Maybe you’re currently exploring how to get into the business, or you already work in the business and would like to take the next step in your career. Maybe you hope to own your own facility someday. No matter where you are along the self-storage job spectrum, it will take hard work and time to reach your next goal.
I recently listened to an interview with Bo Eason, a former safety for the Houston Oilers. After retiring from the National Football League, he decided to become a Broadway playwright. He went from the top of his former profession to the bottom of his new one. He moved to New York and went to every acting, performance and writing class he could find. At the time, Al Pacino was considered the best stage performer in America. Eason was lucky enough to get a meeting with Pacino, who explained, yes, Eason could become a great playwright and stage performer, but it would take 15 years to learn the craft.
Fifteen years later, Eason opened a one-man play on Broadway to rave reviews. He made it, but it took all that time to learn, practice and gain experience. If you want to excel in self-storage, your journey will be no different.
The First Step
If you want to break into self-storage management, first you must learn about it. You need to research what the industry is about, how it works, the necessary level of education, the skills you need, the technology with which you should be familiar, the company you’d like to work with, and who you’d like to meet.
You can start online. The Web knows everything, so all the answers are at your fingertips. Consider leveraging social media sites such as LinkedIn, and start making connections. Volunteer with your state self-storage association. These organizations are always in need of committed people to assist on different projects. Attend association functions. This will give you endless opportunities to meet people who come from all areas of the industry.
When networking, be prepared. Keep a résumé handy, be willing to talk about your goals, and be honest about your level of commitment. The self-storage industry is always hiring, and the need for great people is endless.