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Top Tips for Working in Business - Be Authentic

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by Startacus Admin

Top Tips for Working in Business - Be Authentic 

Guest writer for Startacus Jo Haigh argues ignore all the bullsh*t and fakery - just be yourself...

Oscar Wilde's famous quote” you may as well be yourself as everyone else has been taken” is one of my all-time favourites.

Working in corporate finance as I have for many years, a world filled with Bullsh*t and fakery, I have made a supreme effort not to be sucked into business advice this charade filled with archetypal red braced antler waggling charlatans.

Wow seems harsh, but after 25 years in the business my eyes are wide open, even with a brush of mascara on them!

Corporate finance has long been a man’s world. I know of only a small handful of women at the top in this career and sadly sometimes it’s difficult to be sure they are female, so androgynous have some of them become.

Corporate finance is a very tough field; there is no doubt about it. Negotiations are hard and ruthless, tempers flare, and personal insults are flung across the room and the ether. It’s difficult not to take it personally indeed quire often a personal attack is a well-used method of disarming the other side.

That isn’t of course to say that women are sensitive soles, but my long experience has demonstrated that a woman seeks a mutual win and the less fair sex takes a rather more one sided approach. Posturing in negotiations is something of a must do in some quarters and largely an accepted fact, BUT fakery and being rude are in my world at least, childish, unnecessary, and show a lack of confidence by the perpetrator.

Coming as I do from Yorkshire, we do of course have a reputation for straight talking and being proud of that, but I would hope I would never be rude indeed I have 3 particular values that have served me well throughout my life.

Be kind, Stay positive and Work hard.

These have undoubtedly seen me through some fairly tough times and have helped me build a great business.

The many times have I heard clients friends and colleagues say to me, “what we really like about you Jo is how straightforward you are, how honest and natural you are with no airs and graces “.

My response has to be ‘’well how else would I be”?

It’s actually much easier be yourself anyway, keeping up a charade is jolly hard work, although I am no reality programme junkie, you only have to watch celebrity big brother or the get me out of the jungle programmes to see that keeping up a facade for long periods becomes increasingly difficult and the real you is rapidly exposed, particularly under pressure.

It’s also much easier to be nice, getting angry is very hard work and maintaining such a position is exhausting and bad for your health.

Long experience also tells me you can achieve so much more by being positive and charming, try using this approach next time you have to make any sort of general complaint and I guarantee you will have a much better response than losing your temper.

Screaming, shouting and losing your temper rarely achieve a positive result and if it does it’s probably at an undesirable cost, not least to your health.

I have never been one to conform to a stereotypical position, but that doesn’t mean when I have set out my differentiators I have done so by creating a fake persona.
Rather I have emphasised those elements that make up who I am and which perhaps are not always the norm.

So for me that includes my corporate branding ( pink and black) and wow have I had a lot of stick about the pink, but hey it’s my favourite colour and I think real men can wear pink and if they can’t, well that’s a bid sad if they choose to judge my professionalism on a choice of colour.
I also wouldn’t say I go for the suited and booted corporate dress synonymous with many in my profession.

I dress like a woman in clothes I feel good in as Coco Chanel famously said “wear the right dress and they notice the woman, wear the wrong one and they notice the frock”. I also because it’s my style like to look feminine and well groomed. I think I owe this to myself and my clients.

If this appears to suggest I am some sort of softie let me enlighten you, I am as tough a negotiator as the next person. I have sold over 300 companies have been business woman of the year and IoD advisor of the year twice.

I am a bestselling author of 4 business books and have just written my 5th book called Beat your way to the board room and stay there. I have also been commissioned to write a 6th called bad to fab about so called business mistakes which happen to turn out rather positive.

What I am NOT is insensitive, cruel or ruthless.

I genuinely care about my staff and my clients. No I don’t have a customer care policy, we don’t need one it’s a way of life for us, it’s how we all operate every day, its ingrained in how we speak to each other, how we look after each other, it doesn’t need a document.

It takes nothing to say thank you and means so much not in a “have a nice day way “ but with real care and concern, it engenders loyalty in staff and builds a reputation which in turns creates more great business and you know what, it’s really all very good fun!

Jo Haigh – Partner at fdscfs and Cracking Boards
Telephone 01924 376784 / 01484 860501

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Published on: 11th January 2013

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