Peter Guber, former CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, was in his mid-twenties as a new hire at Columbia Pictures when he realized that the way the studio heads were selecting directors was archaic based on esoteric chatter instead of real data. Guber personally took on the task of solving this industry-old problem.
He went out, got a cork-board the size of his office wall, and created a matrix: All the directors in Hollywood were listed down the side and all the relevant information sprawled across the top - think of it as a primitive Wikipedia for the entertainment industry.
Word spread around town about the young guy who had this crowd-sourced wealth of data on every director in Hollywood mounted on his wall. In addition to adding value and helping others do their jobs more effectively, the cork-board allowed people to take notice of Guber’s ingenuity.
"It became a tool that allowed people to recognize that I was willing to do things differently. It shined the light on me and it and gave me more currency to make more daring choices,” Guber said.
He explained that, “You are in the ‘problem solving’ business—always. That’s the way it works.” This was a key trait that allowed Guber to go from being a new hire at Columbia pictures to the studio chief, in just three years.
Although HRs fail to mention it on the first day on the job, it seems that taking risks, solving other people’s problems, and creating value, even in a formal corporate environment could have huge payoffs for your career.
Are there any problems, even outside your job description, that you could solve? What opportunities can you create to add value to both help people as well as supercharge your career?