imkittymyers at hotmail dot com
Friday, July 29, 2005
ON BEING THE BEST AT WHATEVER YOU DO
I used to sell shoes at a Dexter Factory Outlet Shoe Store. The Dexter outlets have since been closed or turned into Super Shoes, which sell a variety of brands. Our store closed in October '03, but that's another story. Occasionally, "Boss" and I would have to hire a parttime employee. He'd put the HELP WANTED sign in the window and the fun would begin.
The majority of applicants were semi-literate at best. One young guy wrote that the reason he had left his last job was because the manager didn't pay for all the "hores." Obviously he had misspelled hours. That application was funny, however most of them were downright sad. Applicants, who didn't give a thought to first impressions, would show up wearing tube tops, holey jeans, flip-flops, spiked neon hair, goth makeup, dirty t-shirts, multiple body piercings and t-shirts bearing objectionable language and/or graphics. Some didn't employ proper grooming habits. Some would show up with a gaggle of their friends. A couple actually had their mommies do their bidding for them. Some would walk right by the sign which displays the store hours and ask us when the store was open.
One of our biggest complaints was the applicants' work ethics.
#1 Rule: Show up!
#2 Rule: Show up on time!
Selling shoes does not require a PhD, but we figured they knew that when they applied for the job in the first place. As tedious as the job could be, there was still a lot to learn. Mostly, our days were filled with dusting boxtops, changing display shoes, and the endless straightening of rows. But we also had to know how to operate the computer (not the same as your PC at home), and how to do process returns and shoe checks. Nothing was difficult; there was just a lot of it. The few parttime employees who stood out among the rest were the ones who were willing to work, who had good attitudes and who were dependable. Out of the all of applicants over the years, very few fit this description.
I was reminded of all this when I read Agent 007's post yesterday. 007 is a literary agent, but her advice on this topic is universal:
IT’S LONELY AT THE TOP
When I was an editor, editorial assistants would always ask for advice on getting promoted. I told them, “Be the best assistant anyone has ever seen. Make the best photocopies, send the best packages, fetch the best coffee.” They thought I was joking. Of course, there was a little more to it, but not much. Serving the needs of those you’ve been hired to serve (whether it’s your boss or your colleagues or your authors or your readers) and doing so with excellence is something that few people do. If you do it, you’ll easily stand out from the crowd.