Life, Love, and Work: What I’ve Learned after 30 Years in the Staffing Business
On October 30, 1981, I walked through the door of ADAM Personnel not knowing what the day would hold, let alone the next 30 years. I was no stranger to work—I had been on a payroll since the age of 16. But it was time for the next big step: A full-time office job. I remember everything about that day, even the clothes I had chosen for the role I imagined I would be stepping into. I didn’t know it yet, but that brown skirt suit and orange blouse would form the foundation of some of the most important lessons I would later learn about life and business. The clothes we choose, the way we face the day, and the respect we show for the people around us are all vital cornerstones of our success, no matter how we define success and no matter what fields we enter into. Simple daily decisions about these three things can mean the difference between a lifetime of drudgery and a lifetime of passion, prosperity and personal growth.
When I arrived at the office on that first day, I didn’t expect to stay. I wasn’t sure what field I would eventually step into. At that point, I had no idea that work itself would become my life’s work, and that within a few years I would be climbing, one rung at a time, into a prominent position in the staffing business. Eventually I was recruited away from ADAM Personnel, sought my fortune elsewhere for eight years, and then returned to ADAM as part owner. Now, thirty years later, I own the firm that gave me my first big start, and I’m able to share some of the lessons I’ve learned from three decades of a career built on career-building.
People Come First
Back in the 1980s, we didn’t have voicemail or email. These things have become such an integral part of how we do business in the staffing field that in 2011, it’s hard to imagine a day without them. But while faceless communication has increased the speed of our transactions, it can also make these transactions more difficult. One face-to-face conversation can convey volumes of wordless information that allows us to trust each other, stay connected, help each other, and receive help from others. Face-time lets us our instincts do much of the work when it comes to communication and trust. And communication and trust are the still the cornerstone of every important transaction.
People Remember Things
Our grandmothers told us the truth: If you want to know who someone is, look at the things he does. And know that others will do the same to you. People have long memories, and if you do something courageous or weak, helpful or self-serving, intelligent or silly, your action will define you in the eyes of the people who work with you. Don’t do bad things. And take every opportunity you can to do good things, play fair, and give respect where it’s due. Karma is real, and none of us navigate the business world or accomplish anything important by ourselves.
The First Step to Getting Something is Wanting It
Jobs are not promotable; people are. Every company needs a receptionist/account manager/department supervisor, and that may be you for a while. But your job won’t move you forward into another job. Only you can do that. To achieve more, you need to want more. Figure out where you want to go, and reach out for the things that can make that happen. Dress for the position you want (not the one you have), actively seek out relationships that can help you, and go forth in search of the skills you need to qualify for your next role. The working world is more like a staircase than an escalator. Move. Don’t wait to be moved.