IMA Staff Members Reveal Our Scariest Professional Challenges
No matter where you are in your career path, you likely have at least one terrifying professional moment that defined you. Or at the very least, that moment taught you a lesson that you have hopefully carried with you.
Today, in honor of Halloween, the staff at IMA shares some of the scariest moments of our careers and the lessons we learned from them. Hopefully, you can learn from our mistakes.
Read on, if you dare…
Learning From Our Horrifying Career Moments
Bill Faeth, Co-Founder
In May of 2006, I launched a limousine service after receiving poor service as a client from a provider that I used for corporate travel. Within a week, I was up and running after purchasing two limousines, creating a website, securing phone numbers, etc.
On July 4th, I was playing golf with a friend who needed car service in Chicago in two days and he asked if I could provide this for him. Of course I said yes, but I had no idea how I was going to get him taken care of.
The next day I did a Google search for "Chicago Car Service" and found a company called Windy City Limousine. I called them and was put through the to owner, George Jacobs, who walked me through what I needed to do to get my friend taken care of, as I had no clue.
Over the next year, George mentored me and taught me the ropes of building a national affiliate network. In less than five years I had a built an $8,000,000 company providing service to clients around the world.
Moral of the story: Say yes, then solve the problem.
Jennifer Kardell, Social Media Manager
I always get nervous when it comes to presenting - whether it be presenting myself to a potential employer or presenting information to a group of people. It's not that I don't know what I'm talking about, it just that I'm just a perfectionist and like to put my best foot forward at all times. I would never want to say something that could be taken in a way that wasn't meant to be.
Moral of the Story: You only have a few seconds to make an impression on your audience - just like social media!
Brittney Ervin, Content Creator
When I came in for the second interview for my current role here at IMA, the hiring manager made me take a writing test on "Write or Die" which is basically a torture device (read: computer program) that measures how quickly a writer can hammer out 500 words.
I had never seen such a program before and, being 22 and still in college, had never had a remotely 'grown up' job before. Basically, he tells me to imagine I'm trying to teach a 24-year-old from Boston about Nashville, and then sets the timer on this awful program. The way the program was set up, you couldn't backspace to correct mistakes and if you sat idly for too long without typing, it would start deleting what you had already written.
What I came up with was completely incoherent rambling about a Nashville neighborhood and bookstores. He gave me the job, nonetheless.
Lesson Learned: You may be completely scared of a new task. Try it anyway. You might just succeed.
Rachel Chapdelaine, Campaign Manager
My most frightening experience was when I choose to rap lyrics I wrote for a team building skit at a previous workplace. Mind you, I'm not a rapper; I was dressed in pleather, and it was in front of 60 male machinists.
Moral of the Story: When you are willing to reach outside your comfort zone, you will learn that others' reactions are usually more receptive and accepting than you expect. You learn a lot about yourself in the process as well. You learn that you are not (and should not be) defined by your self-perceived limitations.
You can be anything and everything you want in any moment. Breaking down those internal barriers will eventually influence how others perceive you as well.
Zak Becker, SEO Strategist
It was March, nineteen-ninety (something). The place was Tallahassee, FL. I was working the night shift at a local radio station. I had decided the equipment was not as good as it should be. So one afternoon, I went to the local music store and went 'shopping' for a microphone processor. As I was talking to the owner of the store, I learned that he was friends with the manager of the radio station I was working at.
Without any pre-approval or previous discussion with management, I decided it would be best to go ahead and purchase the equipment (without telling anyone). I told the guy at the store to bill the manager. (It was about a $750 piece of equipment). By the time I got to the radio station later that same afternoon, it had crossed my mind that perhaps this was not a good idea, especially since I had only been working there for about a month. I was sure that would be my last day.
So, instead of hiding, I decided to bite the bullet and went in and told them what I did. They thought it was a good idea but poor execution and advised me not to do that again. In the end, it helped improve the quality of our work quite substantially.
Lesson Learned: When buying equipment for the company without telling the boss first, take them a plate of waffles. (Everyone loves waffles).
Ryan Lewis, Project Manager
Before graduating from college, I had a professional internship during the last semester of school that continued into the summer. During the first portion of my internship, I was recruiting for the company from the beginning of the process to the end.
On one particular day, I had a new team member orientation in the morning and then an in-person interview to conduct in the early afternoon. In the conference room for the orientation was the new team member, the HR Manager and myself. Just as I was about to begin, the CEO (a very strong Type A and serial entrepreneur) walked in and sat down at the other end of the table. He said that he was going to observe and that I could go ahead and get started.
It was quite intimidating going through the entire orientation with him there, especially explaining the company history to the new team member with the guy who had founded the company watching you the whole time. Later in the day, he did the same thing with the in-person interview that I was conducting, which once again made it intimidating as an intern.
Lesson Learned: At first I was nervous conducting business with the owner watching me, but realized afterwards that he was there not to judge or chastise me, but to teach me. After both instances, I received good feedback from him and the HR Manager about the things that I did well, and the parts that I could work on. I know that at a lot of places the interns hardly even meet the CEO, much less have him devote part of his day to helping you grow professionally. I felt very lucky to have a boss that dedicated time to his employees, no matter where they were in the company.
Another Moral of the Story: No matter if you're an employee, a manager, or an owner, take the time to develop teamwork within your organization. Be willing (and happy) to teach those less experienced than you, and at the same time be willing (and once again, happy) to learn from those more experienced than you. Intentionally helping your coworkers goes a long way to developing a sense of community and loyalty within a business.
Jessica Bowers, Content Manager
I began my career in marketing and development at a Nashville-area nonprofit. I once wrote and submitted a $25,000 grant request to a big-name national corporation, asking them to fund a local program here Nashville. Did I think I'd be funded? Not at all! Why should they pick some small program in Nashville, when they likely receive thousands of requests for valuable programs from across the country?
I poured hours into preparing the grant application and literally had to close my eyes when I pressed the submit button on the online app because I was so nervous. That much money was a lot to me then. But, a few weeks later, we received notice that we’d been awarded the money!
Moral of the Story: Unless you ask, whether it’s for time off, a promotion, or $25,000, the answer will always be "No".
Robyn Morgan, SEO Strategist
When I was in grad school years ago, I worked as an assistant at a PR firm. This was my very first time working with international clients, so I was very excited (and, as it turns out, a little over my head). One of our clients was a very large Internet alliance whose members could be found all across the globe. Since the alliance was technologically based, most of its members were based in California. Our PR firm, on the other hand, was based in North Carolina.
My first big project was to organize the quarterly teleconference that included all the alliance members. I scheduled the teleconference for 9 AM... Eastern Time. This was 6 AM in Silicon Valley, 9 PM in Beijing, and 10 PM in Seoul and Tokyo. Needless to say, my boss was not pleased.
Lesson Learned: Always be cognizant of time zones!
Don't be Afraid
Now it's your turn to share. What are some of the scariest moments you've faced on the job? Share your terrifying tale in the comments below.
Here's wishing you all treats and no tricks this Halloween!