Last week I talked about my journey to develop the skills I have today. I talked about my taste for news, politics, writing, leadership… and I also talked about the budding growth of my professional persona. For those who know me in person, I am 2 parts adult, 1 part child, and 1 part is an unedited version of Funk and Wagnall’s Encyclopedia (still trying to guess which edition!).
Although I highlighted my strengths throughout college in that last post, I must admit that to most of my friends and family, I was actually just a geek. I can vividly recall a time when I had wished there were 30 hours in a day just so I could have more time to play World of Warcraft…
Now I’m wishing there was more time so that I could actually accomplish all the things my professional life is requiring of me. Even before leaving my house I’m swamped with work, such as blow drying my hair, putting on a watch, and putting together a ‘fashionable’ outfit. All that work (plus more that goes without saying) before I can finally get to the amazing projects my colleagues and I have discussed! Books, magazines, market research, sales collateral, business development, and branding… plus so many more projects that are right up my alley.
As the days continue to pass, I am coming to terms with myself in ways I never imagined. To put it point-blank: I’m re-learning how to walk and talk.
For example, one month ago my boss and I were getting ready to attend a business expo. After straightening my hair, approving my outfit, and managing to get me to wear earrings (another thing I have to get used to..), a colleague noticed me standing and walking funny.
The thing is… I never really got into the habit of standing up straight, something I am sure many others have gotten away with and something that was never reinforced in my rearing.
Soon after realizing I don’t walk straight, they noticed I also don’t “model-walk” in heels. I walk normal in heels, but my colleagues advised I try to walk heel-to-toe, which makes my hips sway a little more and looks more professional. After struggling a few times with the motion and trying to convince myself to want to walk that way, I got it down pretty fast.
As we drove off to the expo in another colleague’s benz, I took a moment to reflect on what a big moment this was for me. My first “business expo” and I had the pleasure and opportunity of attending with two beautiful and intelligent women who considered me so valuable that they took the time and effort to do my hair and teach me to walk!
I felt more successful in that single day than I had in ages.
Personally, whenever I pictured myself successful, it has always been me in the future. More mature, better bread, more ladylike (or vixenesque!). To me, the key to ensuring my intelligence and talents get noticed right away is having a respectable image. It took me a little longer to get on the ball with things than I’d hoped. Things are finally coming together with the help of my wonderful colleague. I am finally getting to the point where I have a little voice in my head that makes proper judgment calls. As such, my personal stuff (wardrobe, hair, and even the products I use) has gone up in quality.
My lesson of the day: Being truly successful takes the right mix of preparation and opportunity. I’ve been pretty good about jumping at opportunities, but I had barely a clue as to what the “right preparation” would be for my field.
Experience in the field or at least understanding of the project is definitely necessary. Knowing the right people is also a great help. However, once you’ve scrounged up the qualifications and met with the right person, sometimes those aren’t enough. And that’s where the other half of preparation comes in handy. Having a developed resume is the cake. Having a developed professional persona is the icing that makes the cake appealing.
Now where can I find a good blazer…