We share advice for acing it in the workplace from those who’ve helped us on our way.
There’s an old adage that goes successful people are made, not born. In the same way, our ability to develop a skill isn’t fixed, our capacity to grow and change isn’t limited; we can always keep striving to be our best.
All of us have had different experiences with those who’ve led us – some great, some challenging – but at the end of the day, it’s the gold we’ve mined, those amazing nuggets of life-learned wisdom, that help us stride towards success, safe in the knowledge we’ve got this.
A boss I had in my early 20s taught me to trust my creative instinct. Through her amazing abilities as a master costumier, I learned to tell stories through clothes, and it’s a skill I’ve continued to nurture over the span of my professional career. She also passed on this life-saving gem: “It’s okay to cry,” she said, “but don’t EVER let anyone see you do it. For God’s sake, hold it together, keep professional and cry/process/learn from it on the drive home.”
—Sally-Ann Mullin, editor
When I was in high school I had an incredible art teacher who believed anything was possible. She encouraged me to think about fashion design as a career and helped me realise I could totally do it. She said I could be whatever I wanted, if I put my mind and soul into it, and it’s changed the way I approach everything. It might sound cliché, but it’s true.
—Jess Thomson, fashion and editorial assistant
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my time working is to keep it professional. As as a writer I need to be able to constantly draw on my editor’s skills as well as get feedback so I can keep learning and growing, and that can be hard to do if I let things get personal. The other thing I’ve learned is to stay solutions-focused. If I’m struggling with something: a story, a deadline, an idea, I try to come up with a range of options and stay open to possibilities.
—Emilia Mazza, digital writer
A former manager taught me this and it’s been gold: There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to communication styles in the workplace and therefore not just one way of dealing with everyone. Some people prefer email, others need in-person contact. Detail-oriented people might need the facts (what, when and why you need something) and others are better at dealing with things on the fly. While one person might like to chat about their weekend before you get to the nitty gritty, another might want you to Just. Get. To. The. Point. Working out what floats each person’s boat and adjusting your communication style accordingly will not only help you develop stronger working relationships with your colleagues, but you’ll find people will be more ready and willing to help you out when you need something from them! Everyone’s a winner.
—Kelly McAuliffe, digital editor
Someone once told me that you can’t be your best self professionally if your personal life is taking a hit. Definitely work hard, be across your tasks and be proactive, but keep your work-life balance in check and make your personal relationships a priority, too.
—Marcel Gull, creative director
“Good things come to those who hustle” is a phrase I will never forget. My very first boss told me this and it has been something I’ve lived by ever since. Being young and new in any industry is difficult as you have to carve a pathway for yourself. She told me by chasing opportunities you not only gain valuable experience, but it also exposes you to the right people, and to even more industry-based opportunities. Hands down the best – and most rewarding – piece of advice I have received.
—Ashleigh Ilton, digital advertising sales co-ordinator
Well, I guess my parents are the OG bosses in my life so that’s where the inspiration has always come from with regards to my work ethic. They instilled the belief you make your own success – so don’t be afraid to knuckle down and do the hard yards to get there.
—Melissa Walsh, digital account manager
Learning from the best in the [journalism] business has taught me a few important things: be scrupulous with detail, check your facts (twice) and be as organised as you can. I gleaned this knowledge from an old hand – and precious mentor – but swiftly adopted them and have continued to use them throughout my entire career.
—Bronwyn Williams, features and beauty editor
Never burn bridges! Whether you’re coming or going, talking to a peer or an intern, it’s imperative that you’re constructive not critical when talking to colleagues because you never know when you’re going to be sitting opposite that someone in a client meeting years down the track. After all, it’s way easier to be nice and polite than it is to be rude. Otherwise, karma will come back to bite you.
—Skye Ross, digital and associate editor Miss FQ
For me, my boss’s mic-drop moment was when she offered the sage advice that you’re never bigger than the brand (or company) you work for. There can be so much ego in a job like this and in the fashion industry in general, and it puts all of that into perspective. Every day I try to remember that I come to work to preserve Fashion Quarterly’s 37-year-old legacy. Sure, pushing boundaries needs to be a part of that, but always with the brand in mind. If the brand isn’t your priority then it’s time to re-evaluate.
—Phoebe Watt, features writer
A clever ex-publisher of mine taught me to “always be impeccable with your word”. By this, they meant if you say you are going to do something, do it, and manage that person’s expectation from start to finish. If you mess up and can’t deliver something, own it, make reparations and move on. I respect people who can take ownership of their mistakes, fail well and learn something from it. We are only human, after all.
—Lisa Deken, direct account manager