Getting to the Tootsie Roll Center of Your Career


How many licks does it take to get to the tootsie roll center of a Tootsie Pop?

Most of us remember the commercial from our childhood. In fact, they still run this classic ad from time to time, so that my kids even know about it.

For those who do not remember, the animated candy commercial goes something like this: A little kid holding a Tootsie Pop goes up to an old tortoise and asks, “Mr. Turtle, how many licks does it take to get to the tootsie roll center of a Tootsie Pop?”

The turtle replies, “I never made it without biting, ask Mr. Owl.”

So, the child goes up to Mr. Owl with the same question. The owl takes the lollipop from the boy and begins to lick it, slowly saying, “One.. .Two… Three…” .

It is at that point that the owl bites into the sucker and hands the empty stick back to the boy, definitively answering the young man’s question, “THREE.”

The commercial ends with a philosophical voiceover inquiring. “How many licks does it take to get to the tootsie roll center of a Tootsie Pop? The world may never know.”

So, what does all this have to do with your career? Well, there is a great metaphor here. I think that right now, we all feel a little like that kid with the lollipop, asking and wondering when we will be able to get back to the sweet spot in our careers.

We wonder how long it will take to get back into the workforce, get a new job and become financially stable again. We go and ask the experts and they keep telling us that they have never made it without taking some risks, like biting right into the lollipop, instead of whittling it down over a long period of time. This is a scary thought. We are now being forced to break the old mold of how we’re used to doing business. We need to be a bit bolder and faster with our personal and professional approach, take a few more risks as we begin to reshape our careers. This may mean going back to school, attending networking events, or re-applying our core skills to new industries and business sectors.

The moral to this candy ad may be that we are at an economic crossroads that compels us to rethink the old ways of doing business and developing our careers. The slow and steady approach won’t work now (Ask the turtle, even he never made it without biting). We need to be brave, creative, and willing to take chances. We need to break out of our traditional ways of thinking and bite right into the center of our core skills, our business acumen, and our intellectual capital.

With great risk comes great reward. Maybe, those who choose to sit and wait instead of trying something new will end up holding the empty stick — and who will feel like a sucker then?

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