Starting a new job soon? The tip that changed my life

Here’s a tip that my mentor told me a few years ago before I started my most recent role and it CHANGED. MY. LIFE.

I report to the CEO of the company I work at and he is incredibly busy and pretty hands-off of my work. So when I was starting my new role I decided to try this tip to impress him right off the bat.

Here is what my mentor said: Bosses are busy. Busy people like to react, not create.


What do MOST of us do when we see our boss is super busy and stressed?

  • We ask: How can I help?

That’s mighty fine.

But what SHOULD we do?

  • Find ways to contribute and give them something to REACT to.

The tip is to create a “reaction document”. Which is a fancy way of saying a rough draft of ideas for a person to react to.

  • The crazy thing is, even if what you come up with is wrong, and they want the complete opposite of what you came up with, that is still excellent progress. Because many busy leaders don’t know exactly what they want until they have something to react to.

Imagine if I told you to describe your perfect house.

  • You’d have a lot going on in your, noggin may not know where to start. But then I put photos of 4 different houses in front of you and asked you which one you liked the best.
  • You’d probably say, “Well this one I like the best overall because of the windows and ceilings, but this other one has the best yard because I love trees and don’t want a pool.”
  • And suddenly our conversation of designing the perfect house, made tremendous leaps and bounds forward because I gave you something to simply react to.
  • Probably none of those 4 houses I presented to you in the reaction document are your dream house but it got us much closer.

Warning! DO NOT: put lots of research and time into a project before your boss reacts. That is a huge waste of time because they may hate it. I’m talking directly to you perfectionists out there. Get comfortable sharing documents before they are far from perfect.

Now, you’re probably asking, what does a real-world reaction document look like? Well, a reaction document can take many different forms, but it can feel daunting if you’ve never made one. Check out this video where I walk through an example of a reaction document.

This has become a way of life for me … all thanks to that mentor! Wishing you the best!

This article originally appeared on Quora.