Say it with me: I am a unicorn.
If you wouldn’t refer to yourself as a unicorn — if you don’t think you’re a badass — you should re-evaluate and get in the right headspace. Trust me, you are a unicorn. So am I.
I bring a lot to the table. I’m present with people. I’m creative. I understand hard tech. I study culture. I can sell. I’m a savvy marketer. I’m a relationship builder. I’m a dot connector. I’m a planner. I’m a doer. I work my ass off. I’m loyal. I am a unicorn.
Now you try it.
I expect a lot of myself. That means I’ve always expected a lot from my managers. And while I don’t have managers in my life anymore, I make damn sure everyone I work with at Value Creation Labs knows just how much of a badass they are and how much I appreciate them. They’re unicorns because we’re all unicorns. We’re all one of one.
Which brings me to the Unicorn Test.
1 Sign It’s Time to Quit Your Job: The Unicorn Test
The Unicorn Test in Action
I helped build an impressive portfolio of business for the CEO of a company. I was yearning for more and aspiring to build new intellectual property for the organization that would both bring more value to the company while creating an opening for me to take on more responsibilities and earn more money.
I did everything I could to present my plans and aspirations. I even proactively developed an initiative that required me to work extra nights and weekends.
I approached the CEO with a recap of my impact on the company’s growth and highlighted the groundwork I’d done to pave the way for new revenue.
I wasn’t breaking through.
I took a step back to re-evaluate my approach. I invested time connecting with my braintrust to seek their counsel. I even sought the advice of a business coach.
What did I learn? Well, a few things:
- I wasn’t valued at work.
- I only had one advocate I could count on: ME.
- I needed to be clear about the value I brought and and concise about what I wanted.
There was no HR. Not other leadership or managers to go to bat for me. I had to advocate for myself. So I did. I scheduled a big chat with the CEO. I succinctly restated my position and my aspirations, and then I said it:
I am a unicorn.
I went on to say how highly I thought of myself, and how lucky the organization was to have me. I explained I felt I had earned (and therefore expected) more opportunities moving forward. That conversation didn’t go well. The initial response was lukewarm. Then, there was the follow up chat. In the next discussion we had, my boss mocked me for calling myself a unicorn.
Let me restate that: I was mocked for calling myself a unicorn.
I was disappointed by the CEO’s response, but I’ve grown to appreciate it. In that moment he confirmed for me, without a shadow of a doubt, I needed to move on.
Much more was said, but I knew all I needed to know at that point:
I was not valued.
I was not respected.
I was not appreciated.
That was the end.
Proceed With Caution
I think it’s worth adding a healthy disclaimer here: You’ve got to execute the Unicorn Test with extreme thought and care. Get a feel for your manager and what kind of communication they respond to best. Make sure to bring receipts — back up your unicorn claim with data. And don’t execute the test until you’ve consulted a mentor, or better yet your entire braintrust.
Thanks for sticking around for this one. I feel vulnerable sharing this story but I hope it can inspire you to stand up for yourself. Don’t allow a manager to hold you back. If you’re having trouble imagining yourself as a unicorn, just ask yourself: What do I love and enjoy doing most? What’s unique about me that no one else can claim? Employees have more leverage now than any other time in living memory, so remember, it’s as much about your confidence as anything else.