I work with some of the most talented and creative people that I have ever met. People, who I would argue, are the best designers, filmmakers, production guys, marketing minds and overall creatives out there today. They’re incredible. And we hustle to knock out a lot of stuff with little margin. Because of the incredible talent and drive these people have, sometimes we get too much on the table and have to call in the alternative plan. The backups. The other guys. The b-team.
That’s me. I’m not the first one to come to mind, but I try to always be there when needed. And that’s a big asset I believe I bring to the team. I can fill in any number of spots when the “a-team” gets overwhelmed, goes on vacation or just can’t get everything done.
Consequently, I’ve designed graphics, cards and signage. I’ve shot and edited videos and recorded voiceovers. I’ve written and proofread copy for marketing pieces. I’ve even lead worship on Christmas Eve service when our team was in a pinch. I’ve done a lot of different tasks in all different areas, and it brings value to our team. It makes my work days exciting and keeps me learning.
Now before I go any further, I don’t claim to be as great a designer as our dedicated designer or as crafty as our filmmaker or as knowledgeable as our marketing team. But I can hop in at any time to keep the ship afloat. I can create a piece that makes the cut. It might not be in the starting lineup, but it’s a solid contributor off the bench. Because of that, I help keep our team moving. I come in off the bench and score crucial points both with my teammates and also for myself as I build equity and gain trust from the team I’m supporting.
Being on the b-team might not get all of the glory, but it will benefit your team and help you gain tons of trust. There are three keys to being a solid, contributing member of the b-team, and they all begin with simply saying, “I can.”
- I can figure it out.
It’s easy to say, “I don’t know how to do that. Sorry, I can’t help.” But is that helpful to your teammate? Is that helpful to your organization? Is that going to help move YOU forward as a professional? Not a chance!
If you have the willingness to say, “I don’t know right now, but I can figure it out,” you’ll quickly find that you gain respect from your teammates and become a go-to player for people who simply need to get stuff done. Become a go-to player, become a crucial team member.
Along the way, you’ll pick up new skills and become someone who doesn’t have to just “figure it out” anymore, but add some new things to the previously dusty resume! That skill set translates to more, “I can” conversations!
- An “I can” skill set
Figure things out enough, and you’re well on your way to the b-team. You’ll learn things that aren’t in your job description but are helpful to the team and benefit your career. You’ll be adding things to your bag of tricks. Soon enough, you’ll have a skill set that makes you able to say, “I can” more often than not. And when you’re able to say, “I can,” you make yourself indispensable to those around you. You make yourself a person that can be trusted to get the job done when in a pinch. Find me a boss that doesn’t want someone like that on their team.
Once you have a couple of new skills, don’t think your learning is over. To always stay in the thick of it and keep yourself at the top of the helpful list, you’ll need to keep adding to that skill set. Always be willing to keep learning and to step back to, “I can figure that out.”
Sometimes, learning those new skills proves more difficult than expected. This is where the trust test of a b-teamer come into play. You have to be willing to stick it out.
- I can stay until it’s right.
Let’s remember that when you’re on the b-team, you’re learning. You’re not the best designer on the team. You’re not the best with budgets on the team. You’re not the person whose dedicated job is making films. You’re there to help when you’re called upon. You’re the b-team.
Because of that, you’re going to encounter some missteps. You’ll have to do more Googling than usual. You’ll create something that isn’t perfect on the first try. But if you want to be on the b-team. If you want to be the person trusted with important tasks when no one else is available, you have to be willing to stick it out.
You’re the new guy in the film world. You don’t spend your days designing. Your newly acquired skills will still need refining, and that’s ok. You just need to be prepared to stick with it. Keep learning on your own and be willing to take critique. Listen to the people around you, so that next time you don’t have to stay quite as late.
There’s only one thing you’re allowed to say, “I can’t,” about, and that’s quitting. You can’t quit. You can’t throw in the towel. Because the second you do, you’re back on the bench. You’re relegated to the practice squad. You’re no longer on the b-team. In fact, you may no longer be on the team.