5 Minutes For Me – Maybe a Career For You

I would like to tell you a story that I experienced a few months ago. I recounted this story in one of the events organized by LinkedIn Local Montreal Women last March, where I was invited as a guest speaker.

This short story, besides the fact that I’m one of its protagonists, really caught the attention, and inspired many in the room, to the point where quite a good amount of people have asked to meet me as a result of this event. And as a bonus, it is a tangible example of what it is to be an Everyman Leader, a leadership role that’s accessible to all and that you can explore further in the article Of the 3 Leader Roles, Which One Are You Perfect For?.

It happened a few months back…

While I was still a manager in a company, I received a LinkedIn connection request from a complete stranger. She explained to me, in private messages, that she just moved to Canada from India, where she was born. She was looking for a job as a business analyst and asked me if we needed her services in my workplace.

I told her that I couldn’t help her with such a position in my company, but that I would be pleased to put her in relation with some recruiters from Montreal who could help her a lot more than I could myself.


Even though she lived in Toronto (she was ready to move anywhere in Canada), I almost heard her fall from her chair from where I was sitting.

“Why are you helping me?”, she asks.

She specifies: “I have more than 2000 people in my network, I have contacted dozens of recruiters and managers, and you are the first who one does not just answer me in the negative, but also offers to help me.”

I realized that I was simply acting the way I would like others to act with me if I were in her situation. It is not more complicated than that. I was surprised that she was surprised.

To answer her question …

“It’s five minutes in my day. But to you, right now, it means the world, and maybe even a career. Who am I to deprive you of this?”

She asked me what she could offer me in return. I simply told her to take 5 minutes, as soon as she could, to help someone in turn.

Being an Everyman Leader isn’t rocket science

Whenever people say they are not leaders, they are usually Everyman Leaders. You know, those people who will sometimes take a few minutes to help you, and who end up making your day? They are the ones. They are not always aware of their leadership.

It’s a leadership style that you can develop. I like to compare it to going to the gym or brushing your teeth. No one gets in shape by going to the gym a single day in the year, and you don’t avoid having cavities by brushing your teeth for 24 hours straight once a year. A few minutes a day are enough. The same goes to become an Everyman Leader.

The trick is pretty simple. It’s about being vigilant and trying to find opportunities for helping someone. It can be anything: lend a book, send a video, help someone to do something, or, as in my story, introduce someone to people who could help them better than you could.

We become a good Everyman Leader the day we succeed in creating opportunities to help people before they ask for it. Sometimes even before they think they need help.

What if…

Can you imagine if everyone took 5 minutes a day, just 5 minutes, to help someone like that, what an impact we would have?

What’s stopping you from doing it?

PS: Today, this woman does not work in Montreal, but she got a new job 1 month later in Toronto.


Olivier Fortier
Olivier Fortier
OLIVIER Fortier is first and foremost a believer in human beings. Owner of the blog Primos Populi -- which is Latin for People First -- his focus is to find innovative ways to bring back (and keep) people at the core of businesses, and ensure they can thrive. A manager, agilist, servant leader, facilitator, and former Scrum Master, all of these interesting titles and roles represent only the means to achieve what he truly believes in: cultivating people's awesomeness. His favorite things to reflect on are leader-leader relationships, psychological safety and the right to fail, career and personal development, humanity in recruitment, and how to lower the center of gravity of decision-making processes. Considering that businesses wouldn't exist without people, can one imagine how powerful it would be if all employees wholeheartedly wanted to be in their organizations, and wanted to do what they do? This is the work world Olivier wants to live in, and the goal he set for himself.

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  1. Great article and a wonderful way to live your life, Olivier Fortier. I’m certain I take these types of actions every single day. It’s amazing to give from a place of abundance rather than “Scare City” and know that making someone else’s day can become part of a life worth living. We are all in this together. We can lift one another high. We are multi-faceted, skilled, gifted people capable of generously giving and graciously receiving. What a joy to get in that flow!

  2. And why did John Lennon’s song “Imagine” suddenly come to mind, Olivier? Yes, it’s amazing what we can do with just a few short minutes that can help someone else so much!

    Recently I learned that a friend’s brother wanted to rent here in my village, and then I saw a notice on our private FB page about a house for rent. Yup. I gave my friend’s brother the name and number, he called, and he’ll now live here in the village.

    So simple. So easy. Great article to see this early morning, so thanks!

    Oh! Did that woman get a job thanks to your efforts?

    • That’s great! So easy to take 5 minutes. People will remember that always. And it will be such a pleasure for them to pay it forward.

      The lady did get a job, but not thanks to my efforts. But it’s fine, she’s doing good 🙂