Fortunately, the first boss in my career life was a true gentleman who could stay calm in any adverse situation. That’s a good lesson for a rookie, right? He then left the company and tried to recruit me for an attractive position with a lucrative package at a nationally reputable company. I was very grateful for his thinking highly of me. But, at the end, I called and told him that I greatly appreciated his offer but would have to turn it down. Why did I reject? Although I respected him, I did not see the genuine passion in him (see my blog title “Are you passionate about your job?”).
Well, after I had declined the offer, nothing better and glamorous happened to my current job. To be frank, I thought a couple of times that maybe I should’ve taken the offer. After all, my wife and I were young couple with our first twin babies, trying to make our ends meet. Actually my job became more demanding and tedious as I started supporting 5 corporate directors. Back then, there was no sophisticated voice mail system. Basically I was the one who took all their customers and partners’ phone messages (nearly 25 to 30 messages a day) and properly and timely handle them individually while printing, responding, and filing their incoming email messages. Our company email system was an archaic dumb terminal (green screen) that had only 2 MB in-box memory. Yes, I was printing, responding, and filing nearly 30-50 emails per director per day, not to mention my own emails and projects to be managed.
Looking back, this period was the best opportunity given to me because I learned first hands from operations to sales with international cultural exposures, requiring highly organizational and execution skills, maintaining no-excuse accuracy and outside-of-the-box thinking. Since nearly one fourth of the company revenue (little over a billion dollar in annual sales) was upon their shoulders, intense pressure and stress trickled down to my level frequently, which also taught me to keep my sanity in chaotic situations. Besides, their personalities and backgrounds were drastically and even comically different from each other. Japanese, German, and American. Sales, compliance, customer services, and operations. Quite, loud, and charismatic. You got the picture! However, I was lucky to learn from these seasoned professionals; to be culturally sensitive, to be customer-oriented, to be punctual, to value details without losing big picture, to present passionately, and to push aggressively when needed.
Of course, throughout the years I had many other great teachers who challenged and helped me broaden my view to the area that I am not comfortable with or had no clue about. I believe teachers are everywhere as long as we are willing to become students. Naturally I am not a humble learner, but I learned it in a hard way that my knowledge and talent were very limited and could not afford to stop learning from others regardless of their backgrounds, strengths, and talents.
The moment we think we’ve reached the point of no more learning could be the moment we are no longer needed in this world.