Side note: I have always been a firm believer in writing about things I care about and that might add a lot of value to whomever reading. But Hunter Walk’s post reminded me that I can let go of the pressure to be right, have everything figured out, or write something definitive to “build an audience.” (Though that would be nice.) Just share what you know. It might attract someone who you can learn from.
TL;DR: Stand up for what you believe in. Your worldview will attract the right people into your life – and business.
The value of a service mindset
Right out of college, I worked as a sales associate at a large department store for 2 years. I hated it. It was 2009, at the start of the recession, and it was the only job I could find at the time. Not only did I feel massively underemployed, I felt the job was beneath me. Along with accruing 20K in student debt, the job added to the pain of feeling stuck. It was the first in a string of customer service-related jobs I held after college, which included being a server at a Thai restaurant and tech support at a startup.
Looking back 5 years later, I’m grateful for those experiences. I wasn’t necessarily good at it, but it taught me how to think on my feet, get better at reading people, and respond in a way that’s empathetic to their circumstances. I got a handle of swallowing my pride and defusing tense, tricky situations.
Most importantly, these customer service jobs cemented my beliefs in how successful businesses should be run. They became my lens to see the world and solve problems. Fundamentally, customer service is about this: people matter. You can’t run a successful business without simultaneously uplifting and improving your customers – their life, and as a person.
Customer service isn’t an afterthought, nor is it just about support. It’s a belief system about how to treat people. When that belief is part of your business DNA, you approach all decisions differently. As my general manager at the Thai restaurant coined, it’s being “service-minded.”