Women are making their mark in the world of business like never before. In every industry and at every level, we look to women who’ve made it their own as an example for us to do the same. For our series ‘Love Your Work‘, we ask women who have achieved stunning success in their career to tell us how they got there, and their advice on how we can join them.
Career advice can sometimes feel a little disingenuous. Sure, “be persistent” and “follow your dreams” is all well and good, but when they’re coming from the CEO of a company, they fall a little flat. In IMAGE.ie’s Love Your Work series, we wanted to go deeper and ask authentic, relevant questions to authentic and successful Irish women. We wanted to know their entire career history, the mistakes they’ve made, what they think the future of their industry looks like – all with you, the reader and aspiring career woman, in mind. What is the advice that will change your view, or inspire you to make the move into something bigger? We asked, and our women answered. Over the past 13 weeks, we’ve collected some brilliant pieces of advice from our guests, and here are just some of our favourites:
I would say that if you’re getting into the business, you have to be very people-focused, kind, organised, resilient and positive. It’s a huge responsibility – you’re not just selling a house, you’re giving someone their home. Many people don’t seem to grasp that. It’s so important to do your very best for your clients, because sometimes they are the only assets you have. Give it 100%.
One is to be prepared to fail. Give it a go, discover, learn the lessons and don’t hang everything up on whether you’ll succeed or not… Embrace the challenges, embrace the hard moments; even though they’re hard, they will be your biggest gift. If you embrace them as an opportunity, as a chance to learn, it changes your whole experience of it.
You may not be cut out for the industry. It’s hard, sweaty, late, unhealthy and tough as nails. You will not get rich. You will most likely not get famous. You will get bad knees and calloused hands. Will you still love it? If the answer is yes, then go for it.
Believe in yourself even when you don’t think you have enough experience or the right skills. If you want something badly enough you should go for it… Hard work and diligence takes you so far but you need to create opportunities for yourself –offer to do the talk, take the first stab at a proposal or grant application, proactively talk to your boss about your role and how you want to develop. I also think being kind and approachable goes a long way.
Work hard and treat your staff well, because a happy work environment transmits to happy customers every time… I think the main thing is to love your work and be true to your principles, that’s my motto at the moment. If you don’t love your work, you won’t be happy in life.
I truly believe that to be successful, you do also need to fail. When you fail, you learn; the hardest part is to stand up and try again but eventually, it will lead you to success… Be really open-minded and actively seek new experiences.
Perseverance pays off. There were a few years when I was chipping away at work thinking I wasn’t getting anywhere, but it’s all working towards a goal. Sometimes, when you don’t see immediate results you think you are getting nowhere, but success takes time, hard work and patience.
You need to have tough skin, to take rejection and have a smile again the next day because there’s always another gig, and you will find someone who likes you… Nothing is beneath you, so work with what people ask. Obviously within reason! Don’t do anything you’re really uncomfortable with, but for the most part, just be a yes person. I think in the beginning, you have to.
The ability to work well with other people, to be able to focus, work hard and get the job done, to the very best standard it can be, on time. The ability to communicate well and to remain calm in stressful periods when deadlines are looming and the unexpected happens is very important too.
Career paths aren’t linear. It’s okay to sidestep to do something else. Don’t be so hard on yourself. I really feel that, even when I’m working with very senior people, we’re all learning every day. One thing I definitely wish I knew was that every day for the rest of your life is still going to be a school day. When I started my career, I was probably very naive, thinking I’d done my course and that this was what I was going to work as forever. But you learn all the time and don’t be afraid of learning.
Do your research. It takes a lot of time to launch something and you need to budget for that, both financially and mentally. Get your foundations solid and get the logistics sorted as soon as you can. It’s so important to know your strengths too. Ask previous employers what these are – if you’re best out on the road talking to potential buyers, do that and do it well, but hire other people to handle the behind-the-scenes stuff. Find your balance.
You need a head full of curiosity and ideas, with a good eye for detail and a good ear. You need to be a keen observer, someone who loves soaking up the world around you and is always thinking of new ways to tell a story, visually, verbally and editorially. Be open and transparent. If in doubt, communicate. Never be afraid to say you don’t understand something and if you make a mistake (and everyone does), own it and be gracious about it.
Work hard and be nice to people. Don’t be a push over, but don’t be an a**hole. Everyone is fighting his or her own fight. Be brave. Work hard. Read everything and follow your interests. Go and learn about things that interest you, and then write about them. The rest will follow.