My first career in accounting at a top international firm was instrumental in shaping the perspective, experience and value that I’m able to bring to my corporate image clients today. Corporations are notoriously perceived as these cold, stodgy environments devoid of personality or creativity. And yes, many are this way.
Back then, even my corporate closet was full of ‘play-it-safe’ navy, grey and black suits with suitably boring, neutral blouses to match. Finishing touches included a black handbag, black belt and black medium-heeled shoes. As I write this, I can feel the stale corporate air returning to my lungs, and I can envision that drab, lifeless décor of the cubicle I’d spend 10 hours of my day in, bookended by the zombie commute. If I could go back in time, I’d grab myself by the professionally pressed blouse, and I’d shake myself until the trance wore off.
My question is, “Where does it say in your company’s mission statement that your personality and wardrobe has to be exactly as dull as the memos piled up in your inbox?”
Why do corporations breed and promote impersonal professionalism above all else? I remember even back as far as business school, the phrase “It’s not personal. It’s business.” was thrown around like the mantra for success. Well, I tried it. And it did work. But the only problem was that success came at the expense of my sense of self, my individuality, my spirit, and my happiness!
Ten years later, and thriving in career #2, I say that “It’s not just business. It’s personal.”
Think about it. People hire, promote, mentor and network with people. Relationships of every kind and in every situation, even between countries and multi-national corporations, are done person-to-person. Your image and reputation (and your company’s image and reputation) are represented first and foremost by your personal appearance, behaviour and communication skills. Why on earth would you choose to appear like a mindless corporate drone bereft of personality? Likeability may not come easy to everyone, but I’d hold far more respect for a colleague who breaks the mold, rather than one who sold his soul to squeeze into it!
And wouldn’t most organizations indeed be better off if their employees took their work more personally? If they were encouraged to bring their own unique style, talents and traits to the office? Think how much more engaged and passionate they’d be. Imagine employees being self-motivated, proud, committed, and even entrepreneurial, as if it was their own company. Because after all, it’s not just business, is it? It’s personal.
Contact Janelle Long Image Management to be successful in your career by investing in your best self! We assist with appearance, behaviour and communication skills to get you hired, promoted, and at the top of your game by showing the world who you are at your very best!