3 months ago I was promoted to Assistant Director of Marketing of a leading 5 star hotel in the world. That came not only as a surprise to me but also to many. There is a glass ceiling in the hospitality industry that dictates one to at least grind your soul there for a long time before getting promoted. I got it within 10 months of entering the industry. Moreover, I’m just reaching 28 years old.
There is a bad rap for corporate in general, and hospitality specifically, that it is a soul sucking world compare to the start-ups and entrepreneurship life. It is a tough environment that moving up take years and years to achieve and not even guaranteed. I think that perception is accurate but there is ways to crack it. After all, I did it (to my surprise- partially). It took SMART WORK and a whole lot of hustling to get here. I will share with you the things I did that helped me get to where I am. Maybe you have read some of it somewhere that sounded cliche but it actually worked well for me and it could for you too!
1.Have a healthy sense of jealousy
Well, the world condemns jealousy. But that is just the Western world. Being Asians, you get accustomed to compare yourself with other by your parents so you know you suck. Even if you earn billions and billions, there is always the next guy who is better than you. It makes you jealous when you start comparing. And I was jealous with those who has the courage to start their business, with my friends who boast to earn 3 times my salary or even with strangers I heard from the grapevines that they do great things.
Does the jealousy makes me frustrated? For sure. But it makes me want to change the status quo. If you are happy with where you are, you will just be there. Jealousy makes you angry enough to try to do something about it. Happiness makes you live longer but spite changes the world. And that leads to the next point.
2. Do not afraid to ask “Why?”
Why can’t I be like them? Why do they get success but I don’t when we both are physically able? All of these kind of questions need to haunt you. There are so many reasons for other becoming successful but many are rooted in the distribution of resources. People might be born in a well to do family with many good connections. They may not have a drunken father to deal with, a terrible childhood to cope emotionally or in many cases, they are just white while you are in various shade of skin colour. Inequality and uneven distribution of resources are the reasons people go in life in different speed.
I came from a super poor Asian family that leaves me scarred with so many set backs. Asking Why makes me realize that compare to those who are more successful, I’m a disabled person. It also made me work harder in figuring out how to change it up. You can’t choose where you come from but you can change who you become.
Basing solely from meritocracy and work efficiency, you are entitled to be treated equally to these people. Asking why you do not get that promotion, or why you are not paid the same with your male colleagues put corporate bosses in a leveled conversation that forces them to take you seriously. Even if you clearly are just more incompetent that you thought, you know you lack certain skill sets that is required to move up. You set a deadline to achieve those and learn new things so you can present and say “Hey, I got it, give me that promotion!”
It is your responsibility to ask Why, not others to give to you. Think about a child when it insistently asking questions until it satisfies. That is how it learns and grows very fast. They do not bottled up all their questions and accept life as it. You don’t ask, you don’t get it.
3. Have a 2-year plan
Isn’t the most boring questions in an interview to answer to “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” but it is necessary. If you dont imagine where you will be, then how do you get there? Company has an overall direction so if you plan to be a singer in the future, why do you apply for an accountant position?
While the overall idea of where will you be in the future is needed, I still think 5 years is too long. Have a 2-year plan puts heat under your butt. 2-year means this time next year, you must at least achieve 50% of your 2-year plan. If you don’t you become the failure that you look down on and even become further from success. You will disappoint yourself, your mother and the whole of humanity.
Realistically, 2-year plan makes the task easier to achieve because you break it into bite size chunk. Telling yourself you will become billionaire in 10 years sound absurd and farfetch if you earn 2k/month right now. But saying you will earn 5k/month in 2 years makes the increment plausible. Don’t try to make life difficult by setting long huge goals. Work with your humanly brain and make it achievable. And the snowball effect is real once you keep getting the short goals you have.
4. Strength to say NO
The first time I said No at work for not helping some lazy colleagues, I felt so good, I thought I had a tiny orgasm. The fact that being able to separate what you can do and cannot do saves you tons of time. As a professional, you have precious time to try to complete important works. Saying NO communicates with the world that I know my worth so people won’t walk all over you. Let’s all get real here, if you get the chance to use people, you would because it is so easy. It must feel terrible for them but for you, it is just light and breezy. Human is a terrible specie, for each their own, we don’t know when to stop. So it is your responsibility to say NO to those who abuse your time, your effort and your good will.
Corporate has this culture of rewarding people for longevity, not productivity. But not all are. So if you have proven yourself to be useful and exceeding expectations, you are entitled to move up. Don’t accept being in the same position because of false hope of one day you will be recognized by upper management. Your skills are needed and valued else where. Saying NO to staying in an organization that does not see your potential and worth makes you a highly competent person.
5. Accepting of set backs
While you maneuver up, there will be time that you will have to move backwards. That is just the game of life. It is like a game of Ludo, sometimes you got kicked back to the yard when you almost reach home. Deal with it calmly and professionally will help you move way faster after. I used to have to take a trainee position after earning good money when I move organization because I believe it will bring me good network and potential to move up. It did and paid off really well 2 years after.
Understand as human, you will feel upset. Cry, drink, smoke or do whatever you need to vent it out in your free time and within 1 week. After that is full on working again to make up for the setbacks. I find that positivity borderline insanity helps in dealing with setbacks calmly. It makes you numb from the disappointment and spring up happily like an annoying roly-poly. This helps train you deal with many more set back of corporate life that will kick you in the nuts several times.