Good lessons learned from good people
My first professional job was with OCHEC, the Oklahoma statewide homeschooling organization. It was a part-time position as their office manager. The president, Rick Williamson, had an office next door, and he hired me part-time to handle some of his book-keeping. I only worked with him for about five years, but he has had a big influence on me, simply because he taught me to be honest and real as a businessperson. I never actually asked him to mentor me, but by virtue of proximity, I learned more from his actions and attitudes than he will ever realize.
Treat people right
Rick and his dad worked together. His dad was getting up in years and there were times when he was forgetful. I watched Rick take up the slack without ever putting his dad down. He clearly respected the man. I’ve always been mindful of my elders, but I learned to manage feelings while managing business.
I try to remember to always be respectful of those I do business with, but especially my clients who don’t have a good grasp on technology.
Don’t keep score
Rick didn’t beat around the bush, and I appreciated him for it. I never had to worry about how he felt.
If there was a problem, he’d let me know and we’d fix it. I remember feeling like a failure, but as I look back at this relationship, I felt very secure.
Once something was handled, it was done. I’ve had bosses who kept score of those things. You never knew when something would come back to haunt you. It’s a scary way to live in business. Sure, there are times when you have to recognize a pattern, but mistakes happen. You learn from them and try to do better.
You never know who’s watching your actions
In business, you have people who are looking up to you to learn how to do better. I doubt that I would have ever had the confidence to be a business writer who freelances without those years with Rick teaching me without being asked. You never know who you’ll influence, so make sure you’re being the professional you were called to be.