Lessons from my first job

In my previous post I shared about the beginning of my vocational journey. Working at Hill & Knowlton allowed me to use my passion for storytelling on a daily basis. It also provided me with two professional lessons that have been instrumental in my career. I will unpack each one of these lessons with the stories that shaped me.

Always be on time

Life in Portugal is different. As a southern european country we are more relaxed and tend to start the day later. It doesn’t mean we don’t give it our best; it just means that for many the workday starts mid-morning and ends after dusk. I remember my first official day I showed up at the office at 8:45 am. The official start time was 9:00 am but I wanted to arrive early enough as to not be late. The reality it that by 9:15 there was still no one present. I recall thinking that maybe this was a bogus job; maybe I had been tricked. I called my wife and remember asking her, “Isn’t this an international company with a real website?” She was just as surprised as I was and told me to wait. I’m glad I did. By 9:30 the first people showed up. They were surprised to see me there and I created a positive impression on the first day. But most important, I set a new standard. I could have just chosen to follow the example of others but instead I stuck to my on time commitment. This allowed me to rise above by getting a head start on the day while also building my own credibility. By the second week I was given my own main access key and a PIN to the alarm system.

Go the extra mile

This lesson sounds cliché, almost basic. But sometimes you have to go through a real life situation to truly get it. Going the extra mile made sense but it wasn’t until one of our clients lacked the media attention they needed that I started pro-actively looking at other angles. The story plays like a corporate fairytale: a commercial real estate business that operates shopping centers want to highlight their health and wellness culture. A child who needs a bone marrow transplant also needs people to register  as donors to possibly find a match. I remember reading this story in the back of a newspaper (a habit in public relations is to start the day by checking the news in the hopes of finding interesting segments that may affect a client of industry). The following weeks I did exactly what I had heard my mentor say: go beyond your call of duty. During that time I was supposed to simply focus on handling current events for our clients not create new ones. Instead I spent overtime creating a business case and pitched the idea to my directors. They loved it and allowed me to reach out to the shopping center and the health organization. Together we created a Bone Marrow Drive focused on this family. The day came and went. From a business perspective it was a success. The child did not find a match but from there we planted the seed for what would become the first ever Bone Marrow Day Drive in Portugal. Going the extra mile allowed me to see new opportunities with work.

Have you experienced similar lessons in your career? Join the conversation and share below.

 

 

 

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