Monday, October 7, 2013

How being ripped to shreds changed my perspective

Photo: Flickr MadMup

In 2011, I took a bold leap and moved from Houston, TX to Los Angeles, CA. A place I had been wanting to live for a very long time. Finally, the circumstances aligned that gave me the ability to go.

It was probably THE SCARIEST/MOST EXCITING thing I've ever done in my life and you'll probably hear more stories about that as this month rolls on.

Prior to doing so, I reached out to some contacts I had made to try and line up business contacts, as well as job prospects while I looked for a job.

I had no idea just how different the culture would be.

A few months into the new year, I finally had an opportunity to have a meeting with a man that owns a placement agency. He and I had been corresponding while I was in Texas via email. He said that he was impressed with me (a phrase I never really know how to take) and that he would be delighted to speak with me and try to help me when I arrived.

It took several months from the time I arrived until I actually got a meeting with him and he said it was to be an "informal" meeting, which in LA-speak, means, "I'll meet with you so you can stop bothering me."

Although the meeting was informal, I still dressed more towards business - something I may wear on a job interview. He wore a very tight button up shirt that was practically see-through, with no undershirt and jeans.

I felt overdressed.

We exchanged pleasantries and in spite of my several emails with him, he asked me to remind him who I was again, which I did.

After some chit-chat about why I moved to Los Angeles and him re-reviewing my resume, since I brought a hard copy, let the shredding begin:

  • The name of your business is not sophisticated. It may be cute back in Texas, but it just won't do out here
  • Be mindful of the way you speak. 
  • Some of your words are flat, maybe you should watch videos of Mrs. Obama speak and practice speaking like her (I don't speak like Reba McEntire, although there is a Southern twinge to my speech)
  • Do you work out? Maybe you should join a gym or go to Runyon Canyon, remember, in your line of work, you're a physical representation of whomever you're working for (did he just call me fat?)
  • Your business card is over the top, you need something plain, more subdued (my business card is a direct reflection of my personality and my brand - it's silk, red on one side with white letters and white on the other side with red letters)
  • When you say "thank you" you should look people in the eye (although I was taking notes as he was talking)
He spent the a little over an hour telling me everything that he thought was wrong with me. Although I'm from Houston, to him, I may as well have been from Cut and Shoot, Texas or Backwoods, Mississippi. I get it, Houston isn't the most sophisticated place in the world, by ANY stretch of the imagination; however, I'm well-educated, well-mannered and I conduct myself accordingly.

He gave me quite a few useful pointers regarding my resume and some careless mistakes that I had made, so for that portion of this experience, I was grateful, but as for the rest of it - when I left his office, I was ready to get back in my car and drive back to Texas.

I sat with his words for a while. I even cried. I was upset that he felt that way about me. I was upset because he had seemed so friendly before. I was especially upset that I had allowed him to hurt my feelings in that manner. And, I'll admit, for a moment, I was upset that I had come to LA - if this was what my experience was going to be like, I was in the wrong place.

Then, I started to see things differently. These were the opinions of ONE man. 

I've heard it said, "If one person calls you a horse, you sock them on the nose. If a second person calls you a horse, you call them a jerk. If a third person calls you a horse, then perhaps you should go shopping for a saddle."

Don't allow the opinions of one person, or even two people, with little or no significance in your life distract you from your dreams/goals/mission. Chances are, they don't have the purest intentions in the first place and instead of being honest, they wrap it in a bunch of BS.

Once I grasped this lesson, I was able to handle things differently. 

I don't get up in arms about what people say about certain things, especially when they're not a trusted source of information. Additionally, it's not worth it to get upset about someone's opinion when they probably weren't ever planning to do business with you in the first place.