One bold move

My senior year of high school, I was an exchange student in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.

I lived with a host family and attended Swiss high school, where I studied 11 subjects in French, including chemistry and Italian (try learning Italian while learning French — it is very confusing!).

As part of my graduation requirements for Sir Francis Drake High School back home in San Anselmo, California, I had to do a research project on U.S.-Swiss relations.

After spending all year stretching my brain around really tough studies, I dreaded the thought of going to the library and drudging through history books written in French.

So I got a hairbrained idea: why not interview the U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland?

I had no idea who he was, so I went to the gigantic phone book (we didn’t have cell phones or Google in 1983!) and looked up the number for the U.S. Embassy.

Then I picked up the gigantic rotary dial phone and called the office.

A secretary answered in English, and I made my best pitch.

I got the meeting.

About a week later, I took the train to Bern, and spent an afternoon interviewing U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland  John Davis Lodge, grandson of Henry Cabot Lodge.

It was an invigorating afternoon, and taught me a big lesson: make the bold move.

False ladders

We have trained ourselves to believe that there are a set number of steps we need to take before we are ready for prime time.

We have to pay our dues.

We have to put in the time.

We have to work to perfect our pitch before getting in front of the “big people.”

We have to prove that we are the greatest {insert your profession here} before going for our dream position or gig.

Mastery matters. Competence matters.

And … you may be more ready than you think.

In The Pursuit of Happyness (based on a true story), Will Smith’s character Chris Gardner has a cold call list where he is instructed to start at the bottom (of the organizational ladder) and work his way up. After a whole series of nos at the bottom, he jumps to the top of the list and just calls the CEO. To his shock, he gets through. This scene sets the tone for the rest of the movie, where his couldn’t-be-more-down-on-his-luck changes into hard-earned success.

You can see the clip here.

Every bold move does not turn into instant success. You may get a hundred noes before you get to yes. Your email may be ignored, or your pitch rejected.

But … what if this time your bold move works?

There is only one way to find out.

(How many times have I gotten close to meeting John Legend? Many. I am not deterred! Sooner or later, it will happen, as long as I keep making bold moves.)

Your bold move

What is a bold move you can make as soon as you finish reading this article?

Who have you been meaning to call?

What pitch have you been fantasizing about making?

What email have you been hesitating to write?

Do it.

The only thing you have to lose is a big opportunity.

Reader Interactions


  1. Aaron says

    Hi Pam,
    I enjoyed this post so much – it’s so true: sometimes we don’t think we’re ‘worthy’ or ready to make bold moves. I know I feel that way sometimes, and yet I can totally look back and locate several bold moves that I dared to make that did click things into a totally different gear in my life.

    I can also identify moves that didn’t pan out as well….but boy, bold moves are what I need to make this year. I want to get a side hustle rolling, and have been working on it mentally for a long time…and making it into a reality for about a month and half now…and I know it’s time for a bold move. Thanks for the reminder that I don’t need permission to make it! 🙂

  2. Jennifer says

    Hi Pam,

    Thanks for the inspiring post to kick off the new year! My words for the year are “simplified action”. I am cutting out unnecessary things that use up my time to free myself for a year of action. I’ve done a lot of thinking and planning and now is the time to implement. Looking forward to seeing what you do this year!

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