Aviation for Women

JAN-FEB 2018

Aviation for Women is the flagship member publication of Women in Aviation International. Articles feature women who have made aviation history, professional development ideas, and current-topic articles.

Issue link: https://afwdigital.epubxp.com/i/915381

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Page 46 of 52

44 AviationforWomen J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 8 How to Succeed in Business— the Non-Glam Way P A T R I C I A L U E B K E A friend recently asked me to proofread his résumé. As I carefully began to read it, I saw he described himself as a "vi- sionary." That gave me pause. Sure, he's smart and talented and probably one of the best business strategists I know, but a visionary? Uh, not so much. Describing yourself as a vision- ary seemed pompous to me, which is really un- like him. But that made me start thinking about some of the silly language typical of today's ré- sumés where the person "spearheads" or is "per- sonally responsible for…" And that led to my thinking about what traits really are worthwhile when it comes to success in the work world, but these three traits I cite are unlikely to be found on any résumé. The best business advice I ever received was as the result of a job interview. The job was at an ad agency, and I was wildly underqualified for the job as I was just a year or two out of college. Somehow I made it past the first round and was sent to the president of the agency. He clearly knew this was not the job for me, but took a lik- ing to me and became a mentor. Over the years, I often wished I had written down all the things he told me, but the one that stands out and has served me well in my career is this advice: "Learn how to keep your mouth shut." By that he meant we are all privy to confi- dential information, but we can't repeat it. It will come out somehow that we blabbed and come back to bite us. Rather, he counseled, when I was tempted to divulge a busi- ness secret, I should ask myself "why?" He told me the reason will always be that I want to show what an insider I am, how im- portant I am that I know this juicy tidbit, and he was right. W hen you're tempted to divulge pri- vate information you've been entrusted with, ask yourself why. Develop a reputation as someone who can be trusted with sensitive information. The next trait for success in business seems to contradict my first. And that is to learn to speak up. I've said before that as a younger woman in business meetings I was apprehensive about vol- unteering an idea. Of course, some other senior team member would have the same idea I had (and was too afraid to say). I'd want to kick myself for not speaking up and getting credit. I know: It's a risk. Maybe your idea is a bad one, but I think any employer would rather have an employee who had lots of ideas, some of which were bad, than an em- ployee who could pass as a mannequin in a meet- ing. Take the chance and speak up. Speaking up is important when it comes to making small talk. I remember the first trade shows I went to and everyone knew everyone. I knew no one, and I felt as if I had to say some- thing profound when I had a conversation. I wanted to talk about the handling characteris- tics of an airplane I'd never fly, or point out some business trend I'd wisely noted. I soon learned that conversation at aviation trade shows usual- ly consists of: When did you get here? How did you get here (either by commercial aircraft or by yourself)? How's the show for you? That's all that's expected of you. I've sat next to many people at luncheons who sit there like a bump on a log. I try to make con- versation—I'll talk about anything—but they just can't do it. Small talk is a skill, and one that can be developed. I once read about dating that it doesn't matter what your "opening line" is be- cause if the person wants to talk to you, that per- son doesn't really care what you say, from, "How's the weather?" to "What's your sign?" The same is true in business. Ask the person about their job, why they're at the conference, and what they've seen that surprises them. The ability to make small talk is also based on having a general knowledge of popular culture, and what's going on in the world and our indus- try. It's important to keep up with the various aviation magazines and websites. Stay informed so that when everyone is talking about a certain movie, for example, you can chime in with some- thing, even if you haven't seen it. I have a friend (another ad agency guy) who was not a sports fan of any kind, but he realized that his clients were and wanted to be able to join in the conver- sation when it turned to sports. If he had a cli- ent meeting planned, he'd check the sports pages of the newspaper (or you can check the inter- net) for the big sports story of the day. So when the conversation turned to sports, he could say, When you're tempted to divulge private information you've been entrusted with, ask yourself why. Develop a reputation as someone who can be trusted with sensitive information. P E R S O N A L D E V E L O P M E N T

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