What Do You Do ‘When Opportunity Knocks’? Here’s a 7-Step Plan

What Do You Do ‘When Opportunity Knocks’? Here’s a 7-Step Plan

CNBC senior talent producer Lori Ann LaRocco built her success in the TV industry by creating a "trillion-dollar Rolodex"—an unparalleled network of trust with relationship industry leaders who give her the stories first.

In Opportunity Knocking, LaRocco talks about how she created this network and succeeded in a competitive industry using what she calls the Opportunity Pyramid.

The pyramid has seven levels. LaRocco uses an industry leader (or, in the case of BlogHer, a group of leaders) to explain how each level plays out in the business world. It reminds me of Maslow's hierarchy of needs (except the needs addressed by the Opportunity Pyramid are all about knowing yourself and reaching success).

LaRocco's quick read will center your head firmly in the business of making your own luck at work, whether you’re starting at the bottom and just figuring out what you want from your career, or sitting on top and preparing for world domination—just like BlogHer co-founders Lisa Stone, Elisa Camahort Page and Jory des Jardins, the subjects of her final chapter.

Rita Arens: You talk about how you use the same success strategies as a mom and as a journalist—can you elaborate on that point?

Opportunity Knocks cover

Lori Ann LaRocco: I am a mom of three very active children. My son Nick, who is 12 and a half, plays on three hockey teams; my 9-year-old son Declan plays baseball and basketball; and my 8-year-old daughter Abby is an equestrian who competes. To add more "fun" into my schedule, I also teach religion class for second grade and work a job where I'm on call 24/7. Needless to say, it's busy. My mornings are even crazier. Since my husband, Michael, is the morning drive co-anchor for WCBS-880 am in New York, he leaves the house by 3 a.m. It's all me in the morning to get myself and my three kids ready and get out the door for work. I use The Opportunity Pyramid strategies every day. I know my strengths and weaknesses. My profession lives and dies by the clock (you need to be on time in news for your hits and stories), so I plan the night before how I will map out my morning so I can achieve my goal of getting out the door by 7:35. My strength is staying true to the clock, and my weakness is trying to do too much multi-tasking. I'm type A, and I think I can do it all sometimes, but that can backfire. I have learned over time to focus on one goal and achieve it. If I want to prepare dinner in the slow cooker or write a column before I leave to work, I will wake up early so I do not disturb my strategy and timeline. I also tell my kids the night before what to expect (if I'm leaving early, or if they need to get up early)—that avoids any potential meltdowns or problems.

Moms know it is a learning process to see what works and what doesn't work when it comes to kids. There is no right way or wrong way to do something. One of the biggest nuggets of knowledge I have gained in being a mom is that it is okay to say no. I had a hard time saying no when I was a new mom. I felt I like I was letting people down or that I was weak. To be a better mom, I knew had to pay attention to all the details. If you are doing a hodgepodge of projects, you are distracted, and something will fall through the cracks. Heaven knows I have done that. Once I had so many things on my plate I actually mixed up the dates of a birthday party for Nick and when my husband went to go drop him off the birthday party had been the day before! That was seven years ago, and when I see that mom to this day I get red with embarrassment inside. I think all moms can relate to that. I use The Opportunity Pyramid to focus on my strengths and plan how I can complete my tasks in a timely fashion, not rush and be half-crazed. It's been a journey, to say the least.

In my job as a journalist for CNBC, I have used The Opportunity Pyramid and crafted it to my goal of keeping what has been tagged "the trillion-dollar Rolodex"—my roster of industry leaders I've interviewed or worked with. I may not be on camera any more, but that does not stop me from having contacts call me in the middle of the night to inform me of billion-dollar deals. It's my reputation of being a trusted journalist that has garnered the respect of many on Wall Street.

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