I’ve been in business for myself since 2011. Before that I worked at a PR firm, and before that a management consulting firm. This is my career post-MBA. Before that was a hodge-podge of different adventures: personal chef, waiter, admin assistant, etc…
For most of my career in business, I’ve felt like an outsider. I hear business people talk, and get the sense that I see many things differently. I get the sense that I’m not one of them. I get the sense that maybe I don’t belong, or my way of seeing it is not welcome. I’ve often felt like:
Who am I to break the mold?
Is it my place to speak?
Am I accomplished enough to weigh in?
Do I know enough about business to have an opinion?
“It’s not personal, it’s business.”
I’ve come to the point now where I realize that the generally accepted business environment frowns upon some of these dissenting/non-traditional views.
It’s systemic to some extent, but for too long I have felt that I’m in no position to speak on these matters as the world of business has generally felt foreign to me. But now that I have worked in corporate environments, owned my own business for 6 years, managed people, and closed sales, I’m ready to join the party and speak up.
If you use “it’s not personal, it’s just business” as a get-out-of-jail-free card from having to tap into some empathy in order to show compassion or treat people with dignity and respect then maybe you’re just an asshole.
People often choose to hide behind “it’s just business” when they’re about to do something shitty. It’s true that business operates under different rules than friendship. But there’s still always room to be kind, there’s always room to have empathy, there’s always room to be a decent human being.
If someone comes into work and bursts into tears because they are going through a divorce or their dog just died, that isn’t unprofessional, it’s human, and if you sit in judgement of that, then you’re just a dick.
If you’re like the CEO of Barstool Sports, texting job candidates on weekends and at odd hours in some absurd attempt to unearth what you believe is an admirable display of commitment to a prospective position, then I humbly submit that you are what is wrong with “work.”
Work is important, and we should all be lucky enough to find something worth committing to. But in the midst of that, I presume that we are all still human beings. That means that empathy, compassion, common sense should still be primary factors, not things on the “nice-to-have” list.
All business is personal, and maybe if more people took that position we wouldn’t have so many shitty managers, tyrannical bosses, inept leaders, and tragic, grueling work environments.