Collateral Success

This article was originally published by Daniel Zimmermann on LinkedIn.

Collateral damage is a familiar term to most.

It doesn’t make too many practical appearances in every day conversation, but it’s common enough that you know what it means.

I’ve thought a lot about the opposite of this infrequently-used term… and I couldn’t quite pinpoint a word for it. Positive Externalities sounds too technical.. So I thought about just calling it, simply, ‘Collateral success.’

Now, for a reminder, collateral damage refers to the ‘any damage incidental to an activity’. So, in my dictionary, Collateral Success would refer to ‘any benefits incidental to an activity.’ But I want to expand on that definition a bit. I define it as the incidental lessons, relationships, projects, failures, and respect that you earn through working on anything short of your ultimate goal…

People write and talk a lot about how experience helps you in your career, always making progress to unlock the next level.

I didn’t find this advice to be necessarily helpful or accurate as a student. Rarely is success linear, and rarely is success the same as your initial plan would have defined it as. In fact, I worked a lot of odd jobs, internships, and extra curricular hours on a lot of activities that I never end up drawing from on a day to day basis in what I do today.

Instead, I have developed my own perspective of how experience comes into play when you really need it to. Rarely will the name brand of an internship or job be enough to put you in the driver seat for a position, but being able to draw from what you learned from those experiences will be eternally vital.

With this frame of reference, I applied it to a lot of the activities I put my time and energy into while in school outside of classes. Starting the Basketball Analytics Club as a first week Freshman, trying to rally a bunch of mostly older classmates to come meet in a room once a week to talk about something I was only an armchair expert in. But the riggers of starting and running that club for two years was well worth it in the collateral success that comes from it. Now, the club is on its third president and running smoothly despite a Pandemic, a task I never could have conquered. I commend the leadership that took the club under their responsibility after me.

I also spent time working recruiting for Syracuse Football 3 days a week my freshman year. Bussing to Manley Field House, saying hi to the few assistant coaches and Grad assistants that remembered my name, and combing through mail and recruiting data. Not the fun data, though, the “where does this recruit live, and how many letters have we sent him in the last 3 months” type of data. I’ll be honest. I don’t remember many days I enjoyed doing that job. And I ended up getting politely fired from it for being one of the guys behind BarstoolCuse, which seemed like a fitting breakup. But the collateral success of that job remains present today. Connections from the team and its media department, fellow interns, and the understanding that there are very few shortcuts to get where you want to go were all great examples. That is just a few of many, though.

Of course, I also draw on my time as President of BarstoolCuse and the amazing impact running that team and brand has had on me and my skillsets. I learned how to be a Swiss Army Knife and fill in gaps that we needed when our team, who worked for free, couldn’t. I learned that if I want to be the captain of the ship, I also sometimes had to create Wind to power it.

Even my active role in my social fraternity, which I assure you I did not see as a learning experience in the same lens as these other experience, taught me vital collateral skills and comfort when it came to speaking to, organising, motivating, and recruiting people. Some may cast off roles in Greek Life as extraneous on a resume, and for the most part they are. But that brings me back to the point of Collateral Success.

Oftentimes, the most valuable takeaway from a experience, internship, or challenge comes much later on, well after you completed or failed. The collateral success that comes from your full, culmination of life experience, your life resume, brings you to where you are today.

I was able to absorb and apply these lessons quickly to my start up, and I also am not so ignorant to think that I have learned even close to enough to speak on life experience so holistically. I am coming at this more for motivation for others my age, who see another internship, or even a weekly zoom for a club, as a chore right now…

You have to trust the process of working the hard hours and bad jobs if you want to, to use a sports reference, control your own destiny. But don’t discount every angle in which you work through. You have to do it anyway, so you might as well trust that it will one day end up being worth it.

As I turn 23 at the end of this month, I am using all that I have learned to control my own destiny from here and for my company. With exciting news coming on Verse’s investment front, I look forward to a whole new dimension of work and challenges that I have faith will all be worth in the long run as we begin to expand our vision. I encourage everyone to appreciate and acknowledge the collateral success they wake up everyday and earn on their way to the top.

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