‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ This quote, by the amazing Maya Angelou, really resonates
with me. Its parallels within corporate culture speak volumes to how one is perceived and treated based on job titles.
There have been many times when I (or a co-worker, or general human being!) have done an Internet search on an individual to see what their occupation was, or to see what “they’re all about”. Upon investigation, if their job title is ‘menial’, out comes the comment ‘Oh, they’re just a…….’ and you can fill in the blanks from there – it could be a contractor, secretary, customer service rep, coordinator, EA, account rep, truck driver or a mailroom guy etc., – but does that give one license to dismiss and/or define that person based on what’s behind their name in the Google/LinkedIn search?
Here’s the punchline – beware of having the ‘just a mailroom guy’ syndrome, because that ‘mailroom guy’ could actually end up being a great candidate. There are a lot of success stories from high level executives that started out their careers as a ‘just a mailroom guy’’ and have a great success story to tell. This can serve as an example of how life can be once that “just a mailroom guy’ can jump out of that barrel and become a successful executive.
I’ve had some mentors in my career, and there is one resounding insight that I’ve learned from almost all of them: be as nice to the mailroom guy as you would be to the CEO, because you never know what their whole story is. I’ve made reference to the mailroom guy because one mentor of mine (who will be nameless at this time) did indeed start his ascension up through the ranks at a major global media corporation in just that capacity: working in the mailroom. It was by no means an overnight success, but he stayed focused and didn’t allow other’s perceptions and judgments, his early beginnings, sway him from being where he wanted to end up – in that corner office J
It can be very discouraging and frustrating when you are in the ‘just a mailroom guy’ category, especially when you know that you are in the ‘more than just a mailroom guy’ bucket. I speak from experience when I say this: stay focused – keep your blinders on to where you want to go in this life, and never, never be defined by the ‘just a mailroom guy” detractors. You are the only one in control of how you move in this life. I believe that life consists of seasons, you will be in one season, until the next season/opportunity presents itself. While you’re in that current season, you are preparing yourself for that next opportunity, so use the present to your advantage, stay on your grind, and believe in yourself.
For the executives/middle managers/colleagues who buy into that ‘just a mailroom guy’, mentality, please remember this: today you may be looking down or dismissing that ‘just a mailroom guy’, but tomorrow you may be looking up at them from the operating table that you’re on, and that ‘just a mailroom guy’ has morphed into a surgeon!
Be careful who you dismiss based on their title – their story isn’t finished yet.