the 10 best lessons about work I have learned

I started work (proper work…the kind where you actually have to go all the time and not just pop in for a shift now and again) when I was 22.  I worked the summer after I graduated doing university tours and clearing support and then landed a job at Giga.  Giga (an International analyst firm set up by Gideon Gartner and later bought by Forrester) was my first foray into the technology-fuelled, transatlantic conference call-heavy, business world.

It was 1997 and I was in charge of flogging the analyst firm’s Inkjet and Thermal Printing reports and inaugural Business Online Conference seats.

Business Online….what an exciting topic that was! It was the first time I had heard about internet business, the doors to flexible working were opening up (only in a thought leaders way, you understand) and over the coming years, after a move into tech PR, the focus on flexible working, remote access and worklife balance came thick and fast.

Throughout my career, I have picked up a number of mentors whose sage advice and support have kept me going…here are 10 of the most important work lessons they taught me:

  1. Always take a big holiday at Christmas, it is the only time in the year you don’t come back to 4000 emails
  2. Always take off your partner, your own and your kids’ birthdays.  Whatever is going on, these days should be spent together
  3. Don’t forget the small stuff….look after your teams, remember their birthdays, kid’s names and stuff that is important to them…it really does matter
  4. Get in early, it is the only time of the day you’ll get real work and thinking time before the phones start ringing
  5. Don’t feel hard done by…it eats you up.  Speak up if there is something you don’t like….don’t let it bubble under the surface
  6. If a friend asks you about work and you can’t think of anything to say other than a moan, it is time for a new job
  7. Change stuff that doesn’t make sense.  If you inherited it from someone else, it doesn’t mean it is right.  Don’t waste time altering stuff that needs to be scrapped
  8. Don’t do guilt.  If you’re at work, you’re there to focus and do 100%, if you’re at home or off with the kids, the same rules apply.  Make time for the important things and don’t feel guilty about days off or time out…works gets enough of you when you’re there…you have earned your time off
  9. Ask if you really need to be there, read it, do it, check it….there are things that can happen without you.  Let them
  10. Keep your personal integrity intact.  Did you *really* confirm that briefing? Did you *really* send out those emails? Did the client *really* not respond despite chasing? Keep your nose clean, operate a transparent working policy and be a trusted employee – trust in business is everything


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  3. Lauren Fisher · December 6, 2009

    Good post – I’d like to add another one. Ask yourself if you’re happy. Someone asked me this earlier in the year and I said that I wasn’t. I hadn’t stopped to ask myself this before. So a short while after, I left and went into partnership to start my own agency. If you’re not happy, your work will always suffer.

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