I Cold-Emailed a CEO and Discovered We Were Related

Job search—upgraded.

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Like many college graduates, I was eager to find my place in the world. I went to school, earned my degree, and completed countless internships. Still, I was left feeling unfulfilled in my short tenure as a working adult.

Some people would argue that I haven't done enough time in the real world and that I've yet to figure out the true meaning of life. However, I would argue that I didn't need to be working from the inside of a cubicle to know that I wanted more for myself. To be honest, I just couldn't stomach becoming that person who sits in hours of traffic only to get into the office late and complain about endless stacks of work. 

I didn't need to be working from the inside of a cubicle to know that I wanted more for myself.

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So I spoke with my mentor one Saturday morning over brunch, agonizing over what I wanted to do with my future. I played with the idea of eschewing corporate America and entering the nonprofit world. It seemed logical. I wanted to help people and I wanted to feel fulfilled. Plus, I already found an organization that truly interested me.

When I spoke about my indecisiveness, my mentor began to laugh, "I would recommend you to steer clear if you value making a lot of money," she teased.

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But I wasn't persuaded. "Watch, the next time you see me I will have already spoken to the CEO," I countered.

Later that night, I logged onto LinkedIn to search for the CEO of the nonprofit I'd previously been looking into. As read over her profile, I became more intrigued about who she was and how she came to be so successful. I wanted to learn more about her.

"This is the person I need to meet," I uttered.

I was hesitant, but I began to craft a cold email to her. It detailed who I was, why I was reaching out to her, and why we should meet. I figured I had to get in front of the best minds inside the non-profit sector if I truly wanted to learn more.

To my surprise, I was greeted with a response the next morning. But she also had a question for me. 

In utter disbelief, I immediately picked up the phone to dial my mother and verify a few details.

I knew my family originated in the Caribbean, but I wanted to be definitively sure. After all, it's not every day you decide to cold email a CEO, only to find out that you might be related.

Despite my disbelief, I emailed her back and confirmed my family name and history.

Then, I saw her response.

My mind was blown. Could we actually be related?

She explained that her cousin recently completed her thesis on their (or, our) family ancestry. And for her proposition, she researched and traced our family lineage from the 1900s. She was able to confirm that our great grandparents were first cousins and originated from Scotland.

Crazy.

A few weeks went by and I found myself sitting in the waiting room of her company headquarters, waiting to be called in.

As I flipped through the pages of the trendy magazines (all of which she was on the cover of) I wondered how and why this was really happening to me.

Then, there she was.

"Allyssa?" 

I jolted up.

"What a pleasure it is to finally meet you!" I beamed.

As I sat down in the chair across from her I couldn't help but think about this strange yet exciting coincidence.

Was I always destined to meet her? Maybe.

Was I always destined to meet her? Maybe.

Could my life be changed forever? Possibly.

This mind-blowing story is still being written. A few weeks after our meeting, I attended an event she endorsed. At this event, I was able to apply and land a gig at one of the top publishing agencies in the world.

I never mentioned to anyone beyond my close family that we were related. I simply wanted my work to speak for itself. However, I believe it's safe to say that her advice played a big part in what I am doing today. I stay in touch with my relative to update her on my accomplishments and projects, but I never actually went into the non-profit sector. 

I guess research proved to be right; cold emailing is the most effective untapped form of networking.

After all, who really knows what will happen?

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