Before we get started, I do want to flag that this article is a little longer than usual. So if you are busy bee because.... #GoGetter and don’t have time to read this entire article please scroll to the bottom to read the final 2 paragraphs. It is an important lesson that I don’t want you to miss.
How did I get started?
Let me take you back to where it all began…
I have wanted to work for as long as I can remember. For me, it was always about gaining independence (both financial and personal). I wasn’t the type of kid that had a hobby like many others. You know the type of kids that play netball 3 days a week or are really passionate about the piano. For me, working was my ‘hobby’.
When I was 13-years-old I was too young to be legally employed but I didn’t let that stop me. I went and interviewed for Cotton On and got the job. A call from the government dampened my excitement but I had Mum grant permission for me to start work before the set age limit. This was an early lesson for me: jump in, believe in yourself, take the risk and figure the other stuff out after.
Throughout high school and university, I worked at a variety of cafes. Including good ol’ BB’s Cafe and Shingle Inn before I migrated over to Pawpaw Cafe and then eventually Miss Bliss.
I actually used to have my own food blog (originally SkinnyLatteOneSugar but then rebranded to TheCoffeeAddictedDuo). For a very VERY long time, up until 2016 actually, all I wanted to do was open a cafe and I created the food blog to stay in the industry, research the market and gain connections until I was ready to open up my own shop.
Anyway, the reason that the food blog ties into the story is because that is how I met the owner of Pawpaw Cafe and made the move from retail cafes to restaurant cafes. I didn’t really have any immediate plans to leave my job at Shingle Inn - it was easy work that paid the bills and let me focus on university and my blog.
This has been a continuous trend in my ‘career trajectory’ - I am often working on one goal when something completely left field crops up.
Side note: if you feel compelled for whatever reason to Google my old blog, please note that that is NOT how the website looked. I just pulled it back to a crappy, free version of WordPress when I stopped running it.
So I began working at Pawpaw Cafe (and all the sister cafes). Retrospectively, this was a massive period of growth for me and opened my eyes to the type of person I want to be. I learned components of business and leadership that worked and I learned about parts that did not.
I left Pawpaw Cafe and moved to Lennox Heads (just south of Byron). My Nanny had become terminally ill and I moved in with her (although short-lived) to be her carer. This is a touchy topic for me, and her death rocked my world far harder than I anticipated BUT, and this is important to anyone that is ever faced with a decision like this, I would 1000% do it all over again.
When she passed away, I came home (to Brisbane) to be with Mum and regroup. I don’t think I went back to work for 2/3 months(ish). And looking back at my mental health, I think I should have taken longer. But classic me was itching to get back to work (and university) and ‘have a sense of purpose’.
So I began working at Miss Bliss. It was actually quite funny how this happened. I thought I was interviewing for a 2-3 day a week barista role, but the owner thought I was responding to the supervisor role that was 5 days a week. Guess what job I got? But heck, I wasn’t complaining and took the job on. The balance between university and the full-time role was a challenge but further cemented my work ethic and management skills. Once I graduated from university, I took over the cafe management role.
How did I get to where I am today?
To be honest, I was unhappy in my life and at the cafe. I knew I needed a lifestyle shake-up and a new job in the cafe scene wouldn’t cut it. I wanted to ‘put my degree to use’ and started hunting for marketing jobs. I was applying for all types of roles, anything to get my foot in the door.
Funnily enough, the first role I applied for was Ronin (where I am now).
Ronin eventually got back to me (after I applied for a trillion and one jobs) and I became their brand new Administrative Assistant. The pay was a decrease from my existing role, but it was something I knew I would have to do to get my foot in the door and some experience under my belt.
My role developed quite quickly and I was soon promoted to the Administrative manager.
Some people could look at this fast-tracked career progression and think it was potluck. And they would be right. 10% of it was luck. But it was not luck alone.
I would attribute another 10% to putting myself in the right place at the right time. There is a very specific reason why you will never find me working for a large corporation... I have an obsession with small / medium business (SME)! SMEs have a level of flexibility and informality that corporate structures simply don’t. In SMEs you can work directly with the owners, you can have your finger in all the pies (i.e. projects and departments) and you can quickly identify and action change - no seven levels of unnecessary management here folks. In SMEs, I can advance in my career based on hard work and merit and not be held back by corporate ladders, bureaucracy or loopholes.
Which leads me to the final 80%... Hard f***ing work. When I joined Ronin, there was no Administrative Manager role nor were they hiring for a General Manager (one of the owners was quite happy in that role). I created these roles for myself. I worked my ass off, put my blood, sweat, and tears (literally) into it and dedicated as much love and commitment as I would my own business. All of these things culminated so that when the owners were ready to move to France and they had to appoint a General Manager, I was the logical person.
Now my days consist of leading a kicka** team of experts to help strengthen and grow other SMEs. What a dream right?
Side note: while I love my job and I am proud to say it is a dream, don’t let my words fool you. There are hard days. I literally did the classic silent cry at my desk the other day trying not to distract everyone from work or draw attention to myself. Tears streaming down my face, James (my co-worker) doing the blokey ‘you got this’ speech and me feeling too beaten down to even soak up the ridiculousness of the situation. No one’s life is perfect, and don’t let a blog or social media feed have you think otherwise.
Where to next?
To be honest, I have no god-damn idea. What I have learned from the last 5 years is that while goals are amazing (I use them religiously), they can cap your success or distract you from amazing opportunities.
What I can say is that I hope the next 3-5 years of my career is focused on bedding into the General Manager role at Ronin, structuring and systemising the business so it is primed for growth and then going all-in to scale the business.
Will I succeed or fall flat on my face? You will have to follow along and see what happens (because I have no god damn idea).
The key thing for you to take away?
A continuous trend in my ‘career trajectory’ is that often, when I am working towards one goal, an opportunity completely left field crops up.
And that my friends brings me to one of the GREATEST lessons I have learned… when you are working towards a goal avoid the temptation to get tunnel vision and miss other, more amazing opportunities. Absolutely keep working on that particular goal, but come up for air from time to time and see if life is trying to show you something.
Addition #1: for those wondering, I studied a Bachelor of Media Communications majoring in Entrepreneurship at the Queensland University of Technology. I noticed in the editing process that I did not mention that and it may be of interest to some people.
Addition #2: for those go-getters that are tired of feeling like their business is always on the defence - check out the Ronin Marketing website and find out how we can help #ShamelessPlug
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