5 cringeworthy work moments and lessons learnt (Blog #15)

embarrassed person

I don’t know about you, but there are definitely some moments I’ve had at work that make me c-r-i-n-g-e when I think back to them. All I have to do is take my mind back and feelings of embarrassment and awkwardness consume me when I think about the actions I did or the advice I got given.

But with every embarrassing and awkward moment there’s a lesson learnt.
And why should everyone learn the hard way?

I’m more than happy to share my cringeworthy moments with you so at least when it happens to you, you can tackle it better than I did. Or, even, at the least, not feel as bad about it.

Either way, we can both share a laugh.

So I hope you enjoy it.

Cringeworthy moment #1 – Being encouraged by my manager to shout at people

It was job #2 and it was my first full-time marketing position that I managed to get. As I started to dive deep into my first direct marketing campaign, I outsourced some design work to an agency. One particular day I was having some difficulty in getting in touch with my contact there and he was due to send over some versions of what he had developed.

It got to the point where I’d left several voice messages and still no reply. It was at this point my manager, a women in her mid to late 50’s, decided to enlighten me with her years of experience. She said, “Mimoza, this is where now you have to raise your voice to show how serious you are.”

In other words, according to her, in order to prove that my phone call was important I now needed to start shouting on the phone.

How pathetic!

And there she was sitting a whole two metres away waiting for me to do this. So, with the next phone message, I didn’t shout, but I got louder and firmer as my manager sat there watching me. And even as I write this I just think how embarrassing and what ridiculous advice.

It’s embarrassing that I listened, but, I can tell you, it’s even more embarrassing that a manager in her 50’s would give that type of advice.

Not much time past and I got a call back. The designer apologised for missing my calls and mentioned he was out of the office for personal reasons. Although, he didn’t say anything specifically, he’s tone was that of an adult speaking to a student who was still learning. Not offensive, but mature and trying to play the role of a coach. It was clear he was giving me a “get out of jail free card” given I was so young in the industry. And for that I say thank you.

Lesson learnt
Me coming across as aggressive and rude achieved nothing other than making myself look like an idiot.

Never in my 10 years and 9 jobs have I ever seen a situation where it is justifiable to scream at someone in the office. N-E-V-E-R!

It achieves nothing other than making that person resent you and not want to work with you.

People that do this lack professionalism. It’s as simple as that.

Aggressive behaviour is for those that don’t know what they’re doing and can’t handle themselves, in other words the amateurs. Assertive behaviour is for the pros.

And at the end of the day, if you don’t get what you want you change agencies/providers.

Cringeworthy moment #2 – Accepting unrealistic goals and being disappointed when I failed to meet them

It was job #3 and boy was I in for a hellish three months. It was the home loan industry and my manager within the first three weeks demanded:

• A fully completed marketing plan
• Implementation of the plan involving in-house copy writing and designing
• And have new clients coming in by the end of the third week.

WTF! On top of this, endless amounts of other tasks and a detailed weekly report, which he never read.

So, when all of this didn’t happen in the first three weeks, guess what he started to say?

The problem was me.

I was simply no good.

And this continued for the whole three months that I was there. It felt as though I couldn’t do anything right.

Was he completely out of it?

Yes!

Was he fully trying to take advantage of my inexperience at the time?

Like there was no tomorrow!

Was he a total lowlife for doing this?

I would say lowlife doesn’t even come close.

During those torturous three months I turned to whomever I could to get some advice on what was happening. I turned to university lectures, friends and work associates and I got all different types of advice.

One of university lecturers even visited me at my new job. I know what you’re thinking. Yep, I was a bloody good student.

But when I think back now my uni lecturer’s visit was quite disappointing. He left me with the assumption that I had to try even harder as this was what working in the real world was like. Although, he meant well, what a load of shit!
Does working in the real world mean giving them your blood as well?

Out of all the people I turned to and how much I told them about all the things he was asking me to do, no one was able to say, “Mimoza, what he’s asking you to do no one can do it, your boss is an absolute idiot.”

But it was only through my experience that I’d see this. By the time I was working job #4 I saw that my manager at job #3 had absolutely no clue about what he was asking for.

After three months I got out of there. I left for a trip and job overseas, which ended up being one of the best experiences I’ve had and was exactly what I needed after those hellish three months.

But two interesting things happened as I was preparing to leave.

1. My manager, who throughout the whole three months thought I did a crappy job, wanted to know if, once I returned, I’d be coming back to work for him? I was like WTF! Are you kidding me? Of course I’d never, but what a manipulative lowlife. After all that it became clear that his whole purpose was to make me think I as no good so I would listen to him, no questions asked and stay there.

2. His work associate offered me a position and said that anyone who lasted as long as I did with my manager was worth hiring. No, thank you! I was done with the home loan industry.

Lesson learnt
Never do or accept something because your manager has told you to, regardless of the years of experience they have.

Throughout my experience something that has been consistent is the feeling when something isn’t right. And I’ve never failed to miss it. Early on in my career I didn’t have the confidence to act on it and later on I did.

If you’re working your butt off and it still isn’t good enough something isn’t right and it’s not necessarily you. Stop simply following, start saying no and start doing what you think is best at the job you’re in. Even my horrific boss at job #3 didn’t know what to do with himself when I started to say no to certain things and push deadlines out. He accepted it. You’d be surprised how many managers would.

Cringeworthy moment #3 – Believing that ridiculous amounts of overtime is a must if you want to have a successful career

I’ve experience this in crazy job #3 which you’ve already heard about and in my last job, job #9.

Yep, after all my years’ experience I got sucked into a manager’s unrealistic expectations AGAIN!

So, what happened at job #9? Within 3 months of me being there (I’d come back after maternity leave) half the marketing team resigned. Then the day came when the manager suddenly got kicked out.

Lesson learnt
Never is ridiculous amounts of overtime accepted. Never!!

While I was at my chaotic job #3 I turned to whomever I could for advice and support in the matter. And the best piece of advice I got was this:

Question: If you had to cut down a whole forest of trees what’s the one thing you need to do?

Answer: Sharpen your axe.

In other words, rest, sleep, get out of the office. Have a life outside of work. Get the point.

I don’t know how any manager in their right mind could think that by working their employees to death they would get anything good out of them.

Cringeworthy moment #4 – When my manager said to me, “You’re the marketing officer, it’s not your job to be creative.”

So, here was the issue. It was job #5, my first stint with government and at the time we were outsourcing our creative work to an agency. My manager was very unhappy with a creative piece they’d produced and felt as though they missed the mark several times.

After listening to her, I wanted to help. So, I started telling her one of my ideas and what I thought the creative agency should do. I got stopped dead in my tracks and she said to me, “Mimoza, it’s not your job to be creative!”

My manager didn’t even want to know what I had to say and was happy to let time and money go to waste by letting the agency have multiple attempts at the job until they got it right.

Lesson learnt
Once again, just because a person has the title manager it doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing.

The most successful experience I’ve had working with a design agency was when I worked with them to produce what I had in mind. In other words, I had a picture in my head of what I wanted. I was quite detailed in my brief. I know some would say too detailed. But you know what? I got what I wanted and less time and money was wasted. It pays to know what you want when you’re asking for something.

When people tend to leave the creative side of things completely with the agency outsourced there’s always a lot of to-ing and fro-ing until they get what they want.

Also, for a fulfilling career that advances you in every aspect, it’s probably best to stay away from the public sector. The main skills you’ll develop are skills in office politics, dodging responsibility, passing the buck when you can and learning to do the bare minimum to get by. You too will become one of those people that don’t care.

Cringeworthy moment #5 – When the 50 something year old designer at work told me to “Fuck off”

This was at my second and last stint with government. Our graphic designer looked as if he regretted his whole existence on earth. He had been in his job about 20 years and was sick and tired of having to work with his fellow marketeers when it came to design work. He was convinced as the designer it was up to him to decide what looked best. Too bad other people thought it was crap.

Giving him work was interesting. Sometimes it went OK and sometimes he told you to “Fuck off”.

Now this only happened once, but I was there only 4 months.

My reaction?

I, a 20 something year old women, told a 50 something year old man that I was disappointed in his behaviour. Very disappointed!

He told me he didn’t give a shit. (lol)

Looking back in hindsight it makes me laugh.

Lesson learnt
If you don’t want to die inside as a person, then I’d stay away from government.
I repeat. Stay away from government.

So, do you have any cringeworthy moments yet? Tell me about it.

If not yet, I’m sure you soon well.

If you found value in this blog post please share it!

Give me the chance to tell you what I would’ve told myself 10 years ago, subscribe to 10 Years and 9 Jobs today!

For more on how this all started click here.

See you next week.

Mimoza

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3 signs your job is doing you no good (Blog #14)

person distressed

How have you benefited from your job?

Other than being a means to money and security, what other benefits instantly pop into your head?

Have you grown as a person? Do you feel good about yourself? Are you happy with how you perform in meetings and presentations? Do you walk away feeling content with how you dealt with certain issues or situations?

Or, do you beat yourself up thinking you could’ve done better?

In terms of how you’ve grown in your position, I think many would judge that based on if you’ve been promoted. I know I have in the past. If you made it to manager status, then that was a sign that you were doing well.

However, after 10 years and 9 jobs, I’ve learnt that this is not necessarily the case. You can make it to manager status and still be very unconfident. And I think if grades were given in the professional world that would be a big “F” for “fail”.

Here’s an example for you.

So, we jump back to 2013 and it’s a Friday afternoon and we’re just about to head into a staff update. One of my team members goes up to my manger with a question. I can’t remember what the question was, but what I do remember is my manager said, “Tinaaaaaa, not now!”

My colleague walked away a bit shocked as she didn’t think a simple question would cause that type of reaction.

Naturally, I looked over thinking, what’s up? What I saw was a person distressed big time. She was sitting down at her desk with her head down and one hand holding it up. Shaking her head side-to-side and miming the words “fuck”. She wasn’t in a good state at all.

After a few minutes it was time to go to the staff update and as we were walking up we learnt that our manager had been asked to talk casually about how through one particular task her team worked together with another team in the company.

Basically, she had to talk briefly in front of about 25-30 people. That’s all that came to the staff update.

Time came for her to talk. And she did. And it was OK.

She was rattled before it, looked rattled after it and the next week she mentioned how she still felt nervous the next day because of it.

As much as I tried to sympathise I couldn’t. The talk went for about 20 seconds and the topic was a big nothing, all about how two teams worked together. No wrong or right answer. And this is a manager we’re talking about.

Regardless, if I was a manager or not, I’d feel really bad about myself if such a small request rattled me so much.

I don’t care about what other people think, but, personally, I’d be asking the question, what is this job doing for me? And how much really have I advanced?

How much was this manager benefiting from her job when such a small hurtle, of talking in front of people, still wasn’t overcome? What was this job doing for her confidence and self-belief?

3 signs your job is doing you no good

No. 1 – Your skills are advancing at about the same rate that a turtle walks (slow and agonising), and your levels of self-belief and confidence haven’t improved much.

Looking back on my 10 years and 9 jobs the one job where I felt truly fulfilled was the one where I advanced the most. Not in positions, but in skills, experience and, most importantly, confidence and in self-belief that I am, in fact, a very competent person who could achieve just about anything that I wanted to. And obtaining this belief is something rare, as I’ve seen you could be a manager for years and still experience little to no growth in these areas.

No. 2 – You’re demotivated and have accepted it and stay exactly where you are.

When you’ve hit this point you’re telling yourself that you’ve got it good just to have that permanent full-time job that is sucking the life out of you.

I know. I’ve seen it firsthand in my last stint with government. One of my colleagues that sat across from me had become really good in the art of dodging work. Only taking on a bare minimum that would somehow justify her being there.

Anyway, just before I left I had to hand over some work to her and she gave me the whole story about how when she first got there she was a “workhorse”. Her words:
“I use to start every Monday ready to go. But what I noticed was that the more I did the more they gave me and the people that didn’t do much work were left alone. So, I thought, why should I be the workhorse around here?”

Fine. I get it. Unfair allocation of work. I think it’s safe to say most people would react the same.

But the thing is, by making this decision to stay you’re paying a big price. Basically, you’re forfeiting the chance to reach your fullest potential for a permanent job that will only enable you to be average. Very average and nothing more.

When I was there, this colleague had been there six years already. How much do you think she developed in her role doing what she did?

I can guarantee you that not only did she not develop, she probably went backwards.

I remember when I lost the job that I loved to a merger and came across to the new company that was formed. One of my old managers from the previous job said to me, “Mimoza, maybe it’s not a case of that it’s that bad where we are now, but more a case of it was really good where we were.”

I remember thinking, yeah I could agree with that. I know there is worse, I’ve experienced worse. But how was that justification for accepting it? I felt it was a completely useless point that people use to justify their decision to stay in a job they hate. And this coming from a manager.

Man! After my 10 years and 9 jobs this title “manager”, for me, really doesn’t hold a lot of weight on its own.

No. 3 – You’re very jealous of other people’s success.

And I mean to the point where you want to scream your lungs out or throw yourself off a bridge and question your whole existence. Your thoughts sound something like this:

WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE? HOW COULD A GUY I WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL WITH, WHO WASN’T EVEN THAT GOOD AT SCHOOL, BE DOING BETTER THAN ME?

Sound familiar?

You’re also very curious of what other people are doing and snoop around just to see how far they’re getting. Other people’s success really pisses you off. But at the same time, seeing that others aren’t getting further than you makes you feel better about the crappy job that you have and helps you to get through your day.

How do I know this? Because I’ve felt it too. I’m as human as you are.

And I can tell you from experience that the only time when I wasn’t jealous of someone else’s success is when I felt fully fulfilled in my role. This was a role where in one year I advanced more than the other nine years combined, simply because of the opportunities that I had through that role.

And that year, LinkedIn didn’t exist to me and neither did Seek. I didn’t care about other jobs and I didn’t care about what other people were doing. I was happy regardless.

How happy are you at the rate that you’ve advanced through your job?

How confident do you feel? Or, are you still at war with the voices in your head? Tell me about it.

If you liked this blog post subscribe to 10 Years and 9 Jobs today! For more on how it all started click here!

See you next week.

Mimoza

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3 reasons why competitor analysis isn’t that important (Blog #13)

folders marked competitor analysis

It was January 2011 and I just stepped into a new role. Little did I know at the time that this role would be a defining moment in my life. Basically, the bar would be raised to the point where nothing beneath it would be acceptable anymore.

Being the only marketing person in the company, it was a huge position. Although, I didn’t have the title manager I did feel like a manager. Everything was mine to decide. Yes, it needed to get approved. But my opinion got valued the most. What I felt strongly about got actioned.

So, at the start of the job we sat down to put together the marketing plan. This being a very common step in any new marketing position.

And I remember factoring in competitor analysis and putting it down to be done every week. Yep, that was the plan.

Did it actually happen?

Nope.

In fact, that year, I did little to no competitor analysis. Not that I did it on purpose, but basically other priorities took over.

Did that influence my performance that year?

I feel very confident in saying that it didn’t have an impact at all. Career wise, it was my most successful year by far.

Why?

Because my goal was to produce the best work that I could, aiming to do better and better every day. And not knowing a lot about my competitors, didn’t stop me from producing my best work even though the industry I stepped into was completely new to me.

I quickly outlined what my priorities were and with the time that I had I applied my best to the job.

Of course research influenced my ideas and suggestions, but very little was competitor research. Being hungry for new ideas and concepts, I didn’t feel I’d achieve much simply following my competitors. At that time, for me, it was more about the world of marketing than specifically following the industry I was in.

Even my managers loved the fact that I was completely new to the industry and didn’t see this as a disadvantage whatsoever. They wanted fresh ideas, words, designs and weren’t limited to what was common in the industry.

Trust me, boundaries were pushed and achievements were made and by the end of that one year I felt like I could take on the world. Like there was nothing that I couldn’t do. I was very proud with what I had accomplished that year and started my first stint of maternity leave with a deep sense of fulfillment. I wasn’t even concerned with having the next nine months off. I felt like I’d earnt it after the year I had.

And it was only one year. Trust me, that isn’t much. I’d often think about what I would’ve done if I’d been there longer?

Now, I’m not saying not to worry about competitor analysis at all, but I don’t think that’s where the focus needs to be.

3 reasons why competitor analysis isn’t that important

No. 1 – It blocks your thinking

I remember a few times in this awesome job that I had, which I refer to as job #8, where I tried to do something very similar to what a competitor did and it blocked my thinking.

What I’ve experienced is that you become so focused on finding examples that are so similar to your competitor that you miss out on a world of opportunities.

Why?

Because it narrows down your thinking to what you have in front of you missing out on all the other possibilities.

I remember when I gave my assistant the simple task of finding website images and how it suddenly became more difficult when she started to look for images that were very similar to what our competitor had.

It was taking forever.

And every image she found, to her, wasn’t as good as the competitor’s images. Because, basically, it wasn’t exactly the same. You see, in her mind she already had a fixed idea of what it needed to look like.

That’s where I stepped in, closed down the screen with the competitor’s images and focused on what we needed for the content that we wanted to display and found some quite fast.

Looking too closely at what your competitors are doing can sometimes be a waste of time.

No. 2 – “It’s not about being better than your competitor, but improving as a company¹”

All the great minds that I follow from all over the world like Tony Robbins, Simon Sinek and Marie Forleo all talk about this need that people have to continuously develop. To improve as people, as professionals. This is where we find our fulfillment.

So, if we have developed and moved forward with our achievements as a company, does it really matter what our competitors have done?

This is precisely what Simon Sinek means when he says “The point is to be better than ourselves not our competitors².”

And this is what I experienced with job #8 when I talk about having that feeling where I could take on the world and win. This joy came from the advancements that I experienced personally and professionally that year. It didn’t come from comparing myself to what my competitors had done.

No. 3 – This type of competition shouldn’t worry you

Competition from outside the company isn’t the competition that you should worry about. Nor should it be a huge focus.

It’s the competition that’s experienced within the company that should be of concern.

What do I mean?

When work colleagues work against each other instead of for each other for personal gain.

When the focus is on “How can this benefit me?” Instead of, “How can this benefit the team?”

This is the type of competition that can do damage to a company. And this is where actions need to be put in place to ensure an environment of this sort doesn’t develop.

What are your thoughts? How important do you believe competitor analysis is?

If you liked this blog post subscribe to 10 Years and 9 Jobs today! For more on how it all started click here!

See you next week.

Mimoza

¹YouTube – Simon Sinek’s Top 10 Rules for Success.
²YouTube – Simon Sinek’s Top 10 Rules for Success.

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