It is a general saying that you do not mix business with pleasure. What that means to me is that you simply keep anything to do with business or career on a professional level and do not involve your personal life or emotions. Perhaps it is a bit of a ruthless way of life, but in terms of a successful and respected career, it works.
Now you may think ”But how do you know anything about business and careers when you’re only 21?”. Well I had my first job when I was 14 and have been working ever since. That means I have knowledge in a variety of careers and jobs and I early developed a sense of professionalism. Hence, when I work, I work. It is a bit like acting and the part you are playing is to maximize the client/customer/partners experience of your expertise. I used to love working in the restaurant business making sure every customer had the most amazing meal and the tip I received was always a receipt of that. Working as a sales assistant in Harvey Nichols was very different, but similar in a sense, because you provided a service and an experience and it was a great feeling getting regulars specifically asking for you. Now I’m working in a law firm and although it is not as client orientated for me, it is about satisfying the supervisors and the partners. With the modeling I have to deliver what the client wants, when they want it, how they want it.
Now you may have noticed that not once have I mentioned my feelings or whether it was hard or difficult. Because trust me it is not easy being professional when someone is yelling abuse at you because there is a disabled man sitting at the table next to them and it is scaring her daughter, or when you have recommended every dish on the menu but the customer is still certain that this is not a restaurant they are going to enjoy, or when you turn up to a fitting and the client says ”She doesn’t look like a model, why didn’t you bring me a normal model?” to the recruiter. It is not easy to stay professional when someone criticizes you. Your career is your baby, it reflects on you as a person, and if someone criticizes that – whether it may be your coffee making skills or your academic writing in a case note, it is almost like a dagger to the heart (yes I am quite dramatic at times).
Nevertheless, I have learned to not take it personally. Of course I get offended at times, but at the end of the day, if someone has a problem it is usually their problem and all I can do is to just be professional about it, and usually it will sort itself out.
My issue is with people who don’t do this. Who don’t treat matters of business and career in a professional way. I barely see it in the legal field and little in retail, but a hell of a lot in the London club scene and some in modeling. It is as if the normal professional rules do not apply and everyone is a bit of a knob head – sorry all my dear friends in the club scene…oh actually, I don’t have any! Perhaps I just did not get the memo, but from my experience dealing with work in the club scene the professionalism simply is not there. In the modeling world the confrontation is almost too much (”you’re too short”, ”you’re too fat”), while in the club scene it is non existent and people go behind each others backs and what you though was a deal is the next day treated as if it was never even on the table. Perhaps I feel this way because I am a very straight forward but fair person when it comes to my professions, I don’t beat around the bush and if there is an issue I will address it, but in a cordial manner. I am not scared of professional confrontation and when faced with it I will keep my professionalism throughout. However, I have noticed that this is not the case for the business people I deal with. I may ask a question and will not get a straight reply or not a reply at all, because they were not expecting me to have any inputs to their pitch. I may criticize the professionalism of someone else and then suddenly I am unfriended and never spoken to again. It makes me question why people are so personal about their work. In the end of the day it is a job and a career – there is a lot at stake economic wise. So why get offended for someone criticizing you rather than taking it onboard and see how you can improve your behavior so that people will want to do business with you in the future?
I think the point I am trying to make is that I am surrounded by 30-40 year old business men/women with ”big” titles who act as if they are 15 and in High School – and it is starting to thoroughly annoy me.