I think I may be a minority in this world in more ways than one.
Not because I’m a woman.
Not because I’m of African descent.
But because I see and expect the best—and no less—from people.
I oftentimes get offended—angry even—when I witness situations where people are either not living up to their potential (or end of a deal) or are totally giving something less than 100% of their effort—- yet expecting greatness and abundance in return.
Working in media, I sometimes get requests, pitches and correspondences that immediately make my head hot because frankly, I’m thinking, “Did this person really think this was their best? Did they really think this was the most effective way to go about doing business? Are they serious? Should I not feel insulted?”
There are things I would never think to do or say to a business contact or someone I’m seeking a business relationship with, simply because I hold myself to a standard. It’s the way I was raised. My Granny would always say, “It doesn’t matter what others do. It’s what you do that matters most. You are responsible for you. You can be great or be nothing at all. There’s no in between.”
I’m not perfect. I’ve made my mistakes—and continue to make them—but my motives are always genuine, upright and professional. I feel that anything that has my name on it or attached to it should be the best it can be. I literally will drive myself crazy trying to ensure that. We all fall short from time to time, but that doesn’t erase the standard of at least trying to hit or exceed the mark I’ve set for myself.
So when I’m met with less than what I see is someone’s best, it really hits me to the core.
Anywho, I had one of those Oprah Winfrey “A-Ha” moments a few years back when a friend of mine had an unexpected response to a venting session. I was lamenting about how unprofessional someone had treated me—someone who wanted something from me, not the other way around.
“You know, instead of getting upset, why don’t you help them see the error of their ways?” she said. “Not everybody is privy to the knowledge and savvy way of doing things that you are. Turn this into opportunity.”
And I did. I decided that whenever I came across potential cases of business
ratchetness faux pas — especially when I knew it to be a practice that could hinder future opportunities—I’d find a kind way to let them know how to improve, whether through sharing a resource article or offering to give professional advice. These situations have even inspired many content series, online chats, events and panels which have empowered many, including myself.
Then a mentor of mine took the advice a little further. “Janell, you’re giving away a gold mine for free. That’s not good. You should stop doing that. You’ll run yourself ragged.”
Yet another A-Ha! I mean, isn’t that the center of entrepreneurship: Seeing a lack of something and filling that void? (By the way, this same mentor got into her current profession after dealing with a lack of professionalism in doing business with someone else. She decided, instead of getting angry, she’d get the training herself, and worked her way up to C-suite status in that industry. She now strives to help people and provide the utmost in resources and information, motivated by the negative experience she once had.)
So, I say this to all my young professionals and bosses fed up with sub-par workplace behaviors and practices: Don’t get mad. Get business-savvy.
If you’re constantly finding yourself helping others to improve the way they do business—or lamenting about their lack of professionalism—maybe there’s a consultant in you. Look into monetizing that passion or skill, or volunteer your time to share your wisdom. I’m sure many entrepreneurs and fellow careerists would be more than happy to utilize your services because truthfully, just like I don’t know everything about some aspects of life or industries, neither do they.
It’s easy to just throw up your hands in a tantrum, shake your head in disgust, and side-eye the future advancement of the world. (I admit, I’ve done that.)
But, I challenge you all to find a way to turn negative situations into opportunities to be a light, and to be diligent in the belief that we are all growing and learning, one day at a time. We can all help one another succeed (if that doesn’t sound too corny or cliche).
What inappropriate business practices really grind your gears? Is there a way for you to contribute to help others improve or cut bad business habits? #SoundOff and follow me on Twitter @JPHazelwood.