A few weeks ago, my team went out to lunch with an executive at our company. It was very informal and allowed us to openly discuss our department and the different projects we work on. First thing she asked us? Tell her one thing about ourselves that she doesn’t already know. I told her about my interesting experience interning in the fashion department of a magazine. It was a nice change of pace talking about things outside of our industry. It also created a bond with this executive in a very quick and unexpected way. Like, who knew that this woman was also obsessed with the show Awkward on MTV (aka the show that continually cracked me up throughout high school and college!). It was so refreshing to talk about things other than work, and it was the perfect mental break midway through the work day.
I think the most memorable aspect of this lunch was the amount of passion this woman has. She is truly bursting at the seams with drive, She regularly attends countless conferences and lectures outside of work. She takes digital design classes for fun. Annually she speaks in front of hundreds of college students. She brings the most unique ideas to the table and is constantly trying to push the envelope. It is an infectious quality she has, one that makes me want to work even harder towards my goals.
I think we were all pretty starstruck by her energy and enthusiasm, and couldn’t help but ask how she stays so motivated. She said that it lies in the escape of the everyday. We need to get outside the office and outside our industry, to see what else is out there. We spend so much time focused specifically on our company, that we are missing out on all the incredible projects other companies and industries are working on. Volunteer, read a book, attend a conference on a topic completely unrelated to your department but something you’ve always been fascinated by.
She explained that some of her best ideas have come from experiences you never would have guessed could be beneficial. Getting outside of the things we are hyper focused on during our 9-5 is the best way to embrace creativity and find a little more work life balance. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. So by not trying new things and reading different articles, you are limiting yourself to an endless stream of sameness.
The thing I admired most about this woman?
She brings ideas to every meeting and 9 times out of 10 she is shot down, but she never let’s that discourage her. She is hands down one of the most driven people I have had the pleasure to meet since joining the working world.
As we were talking, she told us the most memorable piece of advice she has ever received. Years ago her boss at an advertising agency told her, “I may not be famous, but every morning when I look in the mirror I can be proud of the person I see.” That struck such a cord with me. I feel like in this generation, if you aren’t a millionaire or entrepreneurial success by 25 you are considered a failure. Well maybe not a failure, but there is this constant pressure to be the next Mark Zuckerberg or Lena Dunham etc. And oftentimes that can be a very discouraging measure of success, making us “millennials” feel like failures in our mid twenties for having not accomplished as much. This piece of advice reminded me that at the end of the day, I want to always be able to look in the mirror and smile at what I have accomplished and what I am working towards. I may not be famous, but I can be proud of who I am and the work I’ve done.
All in all it was a wonderful lunch. It was nice to escape the office for an hour, as I am guilty of eating my lunch at my desk while still responding to emails. This was the perfect reminder of the importance of actually taking a lunch break. When I got back to my cubicle I felt completely refreshed and focused. It was clearly not just the lunch break, but the people sitting around the table that impacted me. There is just something about sitting with a passionate person. Their energy and drive is overwhelming and provides encouragement in a way that is hard to describe.