Authentically Stand Out (Without Sucking Up) to your CEO

Does hard work actually pay off?

In a world where reality TV shows have displaced professionally written ones and amateur memes are more effective at distributing information than well-­researched marketing campaigns, the bleak answer can sometimes lead us to conclude: “no, life is an endless popularity and luck-of-the-draw contest.”

However - though people and life can sometimes be unpredictable - it's usually a little bit of both. In fact, when it comes down to hiring and promoting, research shows that SME managers tend to promote team members that both have that attention to detail, a killer work ethic AND a positive, team-player attitude - a tendency echoed in most roles and verticals across the U.S.

Equally important? Being authentic with who you are and what you bring to the table.

Fortunately, that means that there are a few specific things you can do to stand out and highlight your everyday wins (beyond just hoping your CEO saw those KPIs from the last successful campaign). 

1. Listen with Your Eyes and Ears

  • Routinely check trustworthy information outlets within your role and industry to stay informed. Crunched on time but still want to know what's going on? Sign up for Google Alerts to find new marketing trends and opportunities.
  • Be a problem-solving leader by paying attention to your team and how they work. Anticipating what your people need to be set up for success allows them to grow and makes you an invaluable asset to your company. 
  • Be open to constructive criticism and implement it right away. Showing humility displays a high level of emotional intelligence and an ability to learn from mistakes - both highly desired qualities for marketers.
  • Follow successful CEOs and managers in competing environments online. Your CEO is definitely doing so­ it’ll give you talking points.
  • Listen to TED talks and curious podcasts like to help you think like there is no box.

2. Show Up Early and Respect People’s Time

Beyond being punctual, treating everyone with basic respect and common courtesy affects the way people perceive you at every level. One way to do this? Be mindful of your team members and their time. 

According to a study done by Harris Interactive in 2013, 83% of American employees were stressed about their jobs, listing “poor compensation and an unreasonable workload” as the number one stressors. That number spiked to 90% this year. Something as simple as not sending that late night email could help in a huge way, because when you are engaging your team 24/7, it burns them (and you) out, making engagement and productivity fail.

Here's what else you can do:

  • Start being at least 15 minutes early, instead of just being on time.
  • Prepare yourself before meetings with a short bulleted list of items to discuss, deliverables and potential solutions to issues you intend to raise or have raised before.
  • Schedule your late night emails to be sent out during office hours or early in the morning. If you use Gmail, we recommend the Boomerang App.
  • Stay late when you have to, but don’t make it a habit.

3. Do More Than You’re Expected - or Paid - to Do:

On this, one CEO lends some advice:

“Learn the art of going above and beyond and doing more than what you are currently expected to or paid to do… As a CEO you come to rely on [those] select few. It is no surprise that these same people end up becoming the senior managers ... and are the most compensated with promotions and pay rise,” said Dean Ramler, CEO and CoFounder, Milan Direct.

  • Focus on results while meeting and beating deadlines.
  • Optimize your productive time using online recovery time apps like or
  • Put the same effort into teamwork as you do solo­ work. Leaders need to work well both in teams and alone while simultaneously pushing the group forward toward more success.
  • Get your idea to spread by targeting early adopters and innovators in your organization. Building a support system of people that have seen what you are capable of becomes invaluable throughout your career.

Your timeliness, respect for coworkers, how present you are in and outside meetings will show and your CEO will notice in no time; you become a natural leader for your team and build a personal brand for yourself that speaks to your reliability, value and agility.

In the end, hard work pays off and makes you more popular for all the right reasons. By becoming someone people want to work for - and with - you'll get greater career satisfaction, develop internal advocates within your team and show your dedication toward bettering the entire brand. And these are all things your CEO and CMO will notice.

It's win-win all around - are you ready to start?