The person that influenced me most in life played a very unconventional role. It goes without saying that you look up to your parents and they are your biggest influencers. But from a business perspective it was one of my employers who showed me what was possible with hard work and determination.
As I’ve mentioned before I’m very good at reading people. So when used in a work environment you can hit it off with pretty much anyone. This particular lady was a very determined, I’m not taking nonsense from no one, strong woman. When I went for the interview one of the current employees passed me in the waiting room and asked me if I was waiting for B. I told him that I was here for an interview for the new receptionist position. His eyes widened and he said, “Good luck…” In a ‘she’ll eat you alive sweetheart’ type of way.
Cutting to the chase, I eventually got the job and became good ‘friends’ with B, my new boss. I knew how to stay on her good side and leveraged every opportunity to learn from her. She was a successful business woman but as all stories in life, it didn’t start out that way. She started from very humble beginnings and worked and worked to get on top.
Here is what I’ve learnt from her:
Do everything to the best of your ability
We once had a function for our clients’ secretaries and she went all out with wine and cheese and awesome entertainment. She didn’t need to impress anybody as they were already clients but she showed how much she valued their business by treating the ladies to a very special day.
Things first have to be really bad before it gets good
There were difficult days were I just chatted to her about our life struggles in general and she would tell me about how bad they had it before it became good. How she used to drive from medical practice to medical practice and sold stationery to the doctors for an income. Today she is selling them IT solutions and support and she’s killing it.
The importance of constructive feedback
Look, if she wasn’t happy about how you handled her client, she won’t sugar coat and tell you straight. Luckily I very rarely experienced that side of her but it was only because she was so passionate about keeping her clients happy and giving them the best customer service possible, after all it was her name at stake as she personally knew each and every client. Even though she could get really upset, you could still take her words to heart and learn from it because she built her business up from nothing and knew it better than any of us.
What I most admired about her was that she didn’t sit back when things started going good. No, she knew that any day something could happen and it could all be gone. Still to this day she works just as hard as her staff in making sure new clients are coming in and that current clients are happy.
As an exercise I’ve created a dream board of my best life, without even noticing that it very closely resembled the life of B. Guess she was much more influential to me than I thought.