My career in magazines/websites was my passion and one that I sorely miss. Perhaps it was the wonderful team I left behind and the managers at GQ? I spent 8 years working in publishing with only one brief stint working in the private jet lounge industry. But throughout my career I’ve made some mistakes. Ones that I want to share so you don’t do the same.
#1 Buying The Dream
“The jobs that sound too good to be true normally are”.
Midway through my career I took a break from magazines. It was for a job that had the potential to earn some serious money. Like most of my work it promised uncapped commission. There’s usually a pretty substantial target to hit before you get it but this one seemed easily achievable. So when I pulled off an ad deal worth millions in the first few weeks I wasn’t stupid enough to think I’d get the full £400,000 on top of my salary, there had to be a catch and so I began preparing to negotiate. But instead I was taken off parts of the account until boom! ‘You didn’t close the deal/technically you’re not fulfilling/insert more excuses here…’. I got nothing. My legal friends and family wanted to pursue action but I was so hurt by the company at such a crucial life stage that I left after only two months, finally rid of all the aggravation and unorthodox office politics/goings on.
Take Out: A bitter pill to swallow but one that really taught me to do my research on a company before signing.
#2 Managing Up
“When a manager isn’t what you expected”.
In the same company away from magazines, I was forced to write emails dictated by someone else using my email account. They were aggressive, unorganised and totally not my style. As a naive employee I often vocalised my point of view but I let it go on without whistleblowing – leaving my reputation open to unwarranted criticism. When you know a person you’re reporting to has a lot less experience than you or is working to an ulterior motive (normally to prove themselves) it can be a really toxic working environment.
Take Out: Have a couple of meetings with your new manager to get a feel for the upcoming relationship before signing.
#3 Dating Someone At Work
“It isn’t just about you”
During my career I’ve dated two people that I’ve worked with. In both instances I was warned it was a bad idea. But I’d get on the defensive to the point where even when I knew I wanted to end it, I couldn’t. I felt I’d be proving them right. Dating co-workers does impact the entire team. In my experience when it does end badly (which more often than not it does), it’s a horrible place to stay.
Take Out: Paint a picture of your working environment should it take a nose dive before entering in to a relationship.
“Honest feelings and bad timing make the most painful combination”
I’ve been guilty on occasion of focusing so much on my own goals, ambitions and lets face it, selfishness, that I’ve ended up expressing myself at the worst possible moment. Whether it’s catching someone at a busy time and asking for a pay rise, handing in notice or suggesting ideas for a new project timing is the essence. My career before leaving to blog has taught me to be more intuitive to other people’s emotions and to pick my moment.
Take Out: A good idea needs support and doors left open. There’s no I in team.
“Who gossips with you will gossip of you”.
Avoiding nasty office gossip can be difficult. From films I believed that those who gossiped with managers normally stood a better chance at promotion. And some times they did get it. But fast forward eight years and those people are still in the same role. With the added reputation for talking about people. Mentors and people I’ve looked up to over the years though aren’t advocates of office gossip. In fact I rarely/never heard them get involved in office tittle tattle and I guess that’s in part how they got to where they did!
Take Out: While short term you may feel the outsider consider long term gain.
Of course it isn’t all doom and gloom. I actually met my husband through work and without making mistakes, we don’t grow and develop as human beings. As they say, ‘those who don’t make mistakes don’t make anything’.
Before I left employment to focus on SITC, I worked inside Vogue House for Condé Nast. It had always been my dream company to work for! Everyday I made a point of taking the route that led me to walk towards the building from a distance. It was so I could see it lit up under the sun and take it all in. I’d walk towards and take the time to look at the entire building – even the VOGUE HOUSE sign and those revolving doors (did you hear about the famous sausage dog incident?). My time there was spent surrounded by an elite publishing and management team. Sounds dramatic but the managers taught me more about life – and work – than I could ever have hoped for. Cheers to you team GQ!
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Words & Styling: Lauren Silvester
Photography: Zoe Griffin