by Lynne R. O’Brien, The Coca-Cola Company
Ok, February’s blog theme is “women and work”, write about anything you want, 500 – 600 words! That would seem like trying to build the Great Wall of China with 500-600 bricks. However, as I reflect upon my now almost 40-years of work experience, I believe you can condense that big wall onto a couple of solid bricks…
Brick One – Besides babysitting, my first real job was working for the local dentist in the small southern town where I grew up. Every Saturday morning, I worked from 8-12, helping him do “extractions”, sweeping out the back of his pick-up (much to the amusement of Judge Martin who officed next door) and running up to the florist to order a dozen yellow roses for his wife – I always knew when he was in trouble! All that to say, for those of you starting out in the work world, your first job isn’t going to be your last, so if you don’t like it, don’t worry!
Brick Two – There will always be bad bosses. They come in all shapes and sizes. Embrace them. I’ve learned quite a bit from the ones I’ve had over the years. Mostly what you learn is what not to do. In the end I feel sorry for most of them. I think they suffer from a lack of self-confidence and they hide it by being bullies. Helps me put them in perspective. Stand up for yourself – in a respectful way. Once you do, they won’t bother you anymore because they know you aren’t afraid of them.
Brick Three – Women tend to have a higher EQ than men, use it to your advantage. Take time to get to know the people you work with, seek out people in your workplace that you admire. Find a mentor or sponsor to help you develop your career. You never know where it might lead!
Brick Four – Work-life balance, work-life integration…whatever you want to call it. I think this area presents one of the biggest challenges for women. Trying to find a way to make it all work. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. I worked full time my entire career. I have three kids, two of whom are now in college. (PS – I think they turned out just fine – working mom guilt be gone!) I sit back now and think “Wow, how I did I do that! While it might not help you if you are in middle of it, in the end you will find a way to make it work for you. That’s the amazing thing about women – we always find a path through! Do what works for you. Don’t compare yourself to others who seem to have it all together – most likely they don’t. One of the things that helps me the most is trying to remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be good enough – put those store-bought cookies in a baggie for the school bake sale, no one but you will ever know!
Brick Five – When you walk out the door of your office for the last time, it’s not the projects that you worked on that people will remember, it is you. What’s your legacy? Build your life the way you want, not the way you think you “should” and what you create will not be “work”, but rather a labor of love.
Lynne R. O’Brien is the Director of Corporate Real Estate for The Coca-Cola Company, where she oversees the Company’s global real estate portfolio. Mrs. O’Brien has been named one of the forty most powerful women in Atlanta’s commercial real estate industry. She sits on the Boards of the University System of Georgia Foundation, Inc., the Georgia State University College of Law and Jeffrey’s Voice, and on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Corporate Real Estate. In addition to other professional organizations, she is a member of CREW Atlanta, serving as President in 2016, and CoreNet Global. Mrs. O’Brien is a graduate of Wake Forest University and Georgia State University College of Law.
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