A few months ago, I told the story of Imran Khan, who emigrated to the United States from Pakistan at age 30 and has risen to CMO of Internet lending powerhouse E-LOAN. One of my readers asked me to fill in even more of the story. In my original post, I mentioned that Imran had sent out 500 resumes without landing an internship offer, but I never explained how Imran got his first big break.
So, as curious as my reader, I caught up with Imran again and asked him to fill in the details. It turned out to be a great story.
Imran described how he and a few fellow students palled around together, visiting numerous Internet companies while trying to ask presenters good questions so they were remembered come internship time. Imran ruefully recalled, “By the time I came up with a good question, and translated it in my mind to English, the speaker was always gone.”
One day, Imran’s gang decided to visit Hewlett-Packard, which thrilled Imran not one bit, because he knew that his lack of a green card meant that HP would never hire him as an intern. Still, Imran always makes the best of any situation, so he dutifully approached the speaker after his presentation, along with his buddies.
Each of his friends posed carefully chosen questions designed to impress, asking about HP’s product strategy or e-services initiative, but when it came Imran’s turn, he asked a different kind of question: “Do you compose music?”
HP’s Director of Global Business Development paused, gazing at Imran, finally answering, “yes.” Imran had somehow connected this man to a distant memory he had watching a musician on Pakistani television years earlier.
“I have one of your CDs,” Imran said.
That man became Imran’s “guardian angel,” he said, eventually getting Imran a part-time contract position at HP (because Imran could not be hired as an intern). Imran’s typical hard work turned that position into a permanent job and he was on his way.
Imran is still working hard, using techniques such as multivariate testing to find every small edge in his marketing campaigns. Imran is a perfect example of what marketing has become. If you work harder than everyone else and you take advantage of everything you do get, good things will happen. Imran got the job, but he also showed the character that causes him to this day to out-work the competition to tweak every last decimal place of response rate out of his marketing campaigns. If you don’t give up, you’ll eventually get your break. Work smarter and harder.