I have been at the daily grind of a business news room for a while now. Every day is different yet somehow all quite the same. Regardless, as journalists plough through the complexities of each changing day, there are some cardinal rules that holds their ground. The key questions to ask no matter the assignment, the event, the news. The principles to guide our judgement.
One day as I was rushing a story, I was running through these questions in my head. Sometimes you do it without even realising. But somewhere along pondering this it dawned upon me how relevant they were to everyday life. They are questions I can ask in my general behaviour, that can reflect in better decision making no matter what I am doing at that time.
In particular however, I realised these are questions we should ask when we’re talking to people, or rather, talking about people.
Remember when I wrote this blog post during my first year in the news room? Not long from now, it’ll be my third. Three years a business reporter. Time sure flies.
If I could briefly summarize the past three years I would say that it got better over time. My first year was extremely hard because I made a lot of mistakes, typically careless ones and was called out for it. That was to be expected but I was extra hard on myself. I wanted to get it all right. But you can never get anything right without at least experiencing some sort of short fall.
Mistakes are still occasionally made but the more seasoned you become, the less tolerated the mistake. Nonetheless, the journey has been nothing short of interesting. Every day is new and filled with possibilities. I have learned so much along the way and continue to be stretched in different ways, all of which has contributed to my professional growth.
Don’t take anything personally.
This would be the one main advice I’d give anyone asking, or basically to myself to remember that there is more in life to care about than how you are treated at the workplace.
As they say, it’s strictly business.
I’m entering the 5th year of my working life and have experienced working for various management leaders. Every single one of them were different. They all had their own approach in how to deal with their staff, and how to navigate the daily office politics. Some were the same in and out of the office, though a few were completely different.
It kind of feels like a love hate relationship.
My experiences with them always felt like an uphill battle. Some were easy to get along with and we shared many laughs. But they hardly fought for me, nor provided me the growth opportunities I needed.
As I begin to write this blog post, I have given myself only 10 minutes to quickly finish it because I’ve got to quickly eat my lunch then head over to my assignment. I basically have half an hour.
It’s been about 9 months since I made the decision to join journalism. A complete jump from my previous job, though I have no regrets. From naively thinking a good command of English and writing skills would be enough to equip me for the job, I have since been humbled by my lack thereof. In between unlearning and relearning different ways to write, I have also been learning more about how business and the economy works, making sense of numbers, juggling editors expectations, deadlines and just really trying to have fun in between.
I thought I’d share what I’ve learned so far here, because really, no one talks about this great profession enough.
#1 – Get straight to the point, “this is not a law essay”
Basically what my editor told me on my first day when I was given my first announcement for the website. As a typical law grad, I had written a really long paragraph with long sentences that did not even address the issue. I was quickly introduced to the inverted-pyramid style used in journalism – salient points in first paragraph. Everything a law essay was not!
I recently attended a talk by PNB’s chairman, Tan Sri Wahid Omar, who spoke about his career trajectory and where it has taken him. The one key point that stayed with me was when he said “Don’t worry about your next job, focus on the task at hand, if you work hard your reputation is sure to precede you” and it got me thinking, there is no better advice to give a millennial like myself. There are some days I catch myself prematurely thinking about my next move, my next jump and I figure, this is not productive thinking. Surely I could spend that time thinking about something else… like how to improve my current work. In another sense, it reminded me to live in the present.
I have an ego problem, I won’t deny that.
No I’m not the kind of person to think I’m better than you, no I’m not the kind of person to hold a grudge. But for some reason, I have a hard time saying sorry.
Annoying isn’t it? Having to say sorry, having to admit that you’re wrong. If you’re a person like me you’ll resonate with why it’s hard to even bring oneself to apologise. It’s…embarrassing.
“Make a choice and learn to be happy with it”
Datuk Abdul Farid Alias, CEO of Maybank Group
April 1 2016
1) Had the pleasure of listening to Datuk Farid Alias speak last night on values as a leader. He may be CEO of Maybank Group, but his aura tells you that he is also your friend.
2) Datuk Farid claims to be an introvert, but is a very approachable one. It tells you that being an introvert aint all a bad thing.
3) Datuk proposes that to be a Maybank CEO one must be – Superman (strong) Albert Einstein (intelligent) Ronald Reagan (great speaker) and Oprah (have a huge fan base)
4) In the beginning of one’s career, attention should be given to develop oneself. As you get older it is no longer about you, but your people.
5) It’s important to work with a sense of purpose. You can put extraordinary people to work together in a team yet they produce ordinary results. Why? Because most of the time they are vested in self-interest and lack purpose.
6) Tying to point #4, company culture is an important factor to the success of an organisation. Most of the time we neglect this. Leaders must work harder to cultivate a culture of being HOT – honest, open and trustworthy in its people.
7) I took away 2 key points – to be open to exposure yet to always stay grounded. Datuk Farid spoke about being an introvert and having an ordinary upbringing with commendable pride. While his experiences have taught him to make leadership adjustments where necessary, he essentially tries to stay himself. And that’s important.
When asked which superhero he liked better – “Most people hate Superman. But I like Superman. I like him because he represents everything that is good.”
I am inspired :)
When I first started working, I made the conscious decision to constantly reflect on my career objectives in order to ensure I was on the right track. This included seeking advice from senior colleagues who helped me to manage my expectations.
I came back from lunch one day and found myself in a serious conversation with a senior colleague. I had been 3 months into the job and this senior colleague asked how I was doing. So I opened up and explained my concerns about the learning curve of the job and sought advice on how I was to go about in maximizing my experiences. This senior colleague then asked me to take a step back and proceeded to ask me 3 critical questions that would help to realign my perspective.
I’ve contemplated writing this blog post for a while because I wasn’t sure if it was too early in the day for me to share career advice. I’ve recently hit my 8th month into my first job and I’ve learned quite a bit which I’d like to share. Seeing that I have a thing for lists, here’s one on work-place etiquette that no one really told me about which I learned through much observation:
1. Never get too comfortable, always be professional
There will come a point where you feel you have found your place in the company, where you feel comfortable being yourself. However always remember to draw the line and remain professional in your conduct and your speech to others. Your colleague may be your friend but he is first and foremost, your colleague.
2. Be nice to everyone, including non-executive staff
This is a trait that will set you apart from the rest and will take you a long way, not to mention – remembered.
Yesterday my 26 yr old brother tweeted some tips for young executives – all from his own personal experience of having previously been a young exec himself. (He is now in a managerial position)
(read – bottom to top)
Advice like this applies not only to young execs working but people like me for instance, about to graduate and venture into the workforce (public/private sector). I also feel advice like this is just as practical and applicable for one’s studies (when dealing with a teacher’s expectations; ask if you’re not sure) and other miscellaneous types of tasks. Also for university students pursuing internships, these tips are just as applicable for them as an internship in a company etc. will expose you to the working world and all its expectations. I know that after 2 internships at a radio station and a semi-govt corporation, albeit the vast and contrasting level and type of work I did, at the end of the day the expectations by my employers were the same – to train you to learn how to work efficiently and be efficiently managed.