19 September, 2012

6 Things My Boss Taught Me

...about life, actually.

Just a clarification: I used to work at the Munkysuperstar until earlier this year, so anything I say here does not represent the company, only a representation of my own opinions.

The days spent at Munkysuperstar had been one of the best in my life, second to Poly life, and that's only because Poly was in Chinese, my niche. Anyway, my point is that MSP is a really great place to me, and for me, a fortunate starting point in the working society.

Within the 13 months I worked there, I've learnt a lot about the industry, met a lot of funny/crazy/long-winded/flaky people, and also learnt some really important life lessons from my colleagues, particularly my boss.

Thought I'd write this entry to share what I learnt, to thank my boss publicly and also, to always remind myself what I've learnt.

(1) "It's okay"

One of the most common things my boss said, was probably "it's okay". There are times when I make mistakes, I'm not ready for her questions, or something went wrong that she could have bitched the hell out of my ego.

But more often than not, her reply is simply "it's okay". I've asked her before, why she doesn't get angry/upset, but she said, it's no use pursuing the matter, and there's always a solution that we should focus on instead.

The fact is, shit happens during shoots. We may forget to change AF to MF, we may forget to press the REC button, we may forget to WB and we may forget to bring the triangle or receiver. What we can do, is try to solve the problem from that point. It's no use discussing who made that mistake, etc.

I've always been the kind of person who gets very worked up about any problem. So I've actually learnt to calm down and be a more level-headed person from her.

(2) "Try it!"

I'm always apprehensive about trying new stuff, and during my time in MSP, that has always been an encouragement coming from my boss and colleagues.

In terms of work, they encouraged me to try using the DSLR, to try filming, to try teleprompter (which I grew to love), and try to speak up and interview people (in english). I even had the chance and honor to interview a black guy (factual adjective).

Unknown dish? Just google it.
The first event I went with a DSLR.
One thing, though, that I never did try, was squid ink pasta. But by pushing my limits, I've learnt so much more, and found new things that I grew to love, including birthday celebrations.

(3) "You can copy, it's just how you make it better"

Singaporeans are always bitching about "this show is copied from _______" and "your work is not original".

What makes clicknetwork successful, I think, is how even inspired ideas are made better. To be honest, it's really hard to come up with a completely new idea in this day and age. Everything falls into some kind of category, but the point is not to copy wholesale, but make the idea uniquely yours.

Interviews are so common, so they decided to do it in the backseat. Simple twist, but a brand new fresh perspective.

And that's how and why I fell in love with clicknetwork shows in the first place, too.

(4) "Good job!"

One thing that I knew not many of my other working friends got, was acknowledgement from their superiors. It was frustrating and depressing for them, when they put up impressive articles, but their boss ask them into the office to talk about some of the minor mistakes they made. It makes you feel as if you've done badly in general.

Being a super newbie, one thing boss has consistently told us is that we are doing good. Be it something simple like a birthday card, or something important like a corporate presentation. She always make the effort to acknowledge the hardwork we've put in.

It's not wrong to point out our mistakes, but what made boss special was that she complimented us before pointing out some room for improvements, and that makes us more motivated to do even better and work even harder.

Another thing is, being a multi-nationality crew, somehow boss always knew each of our strengths and put them to good use. She can see even a good side to the worst people... except maybe the really rare long-winded kind... *coughs*

(5) "So long as you get the work done, well"

While our working hours are 10am - 6pm in black and white, boss has never made one of those super strict rules, like punchcards or making record how often we are late.

She has never stood behind or "patrolled around the office" to see what we are doing on the computers either. She's not the kind to sneak up behind us, or check our conversation histories. She accepts the fact that office gossip is bound to happen, and she understands that some of them need smoking breaks. She understands when we are out meeting a friend and may have a longer lunchtime than usual.

My graduation ceremony happened in May last year, and it was my probation period, so by right I'm not allowed to take leave. But boss allowed me to. And even treated me to lunch, with the office bunch. It's more like a family that operates on trust and respect, that as long as we get our work done on time and above standards, she leaves it up to us to arrange our work.

(6) "Just let me know"

You know how people always say there are some things you shouldn't say to your boss, even if it's the truth? During my time at MSP, that was hardly a problem.

When something is bad, boss trusts us to tell her the truth, and we work on it together knowing she wouldn't take it personally. Likewise, we know that she means it when she praises a well-done edit/set-up.

Going out all the way to give me birthday surprise.

There are suggestions I've raised and I can be sure that she listened and is willing to change. She's not an "up there" authority figure, but one who knows she has to listen and is open to ideas, "so long as it makes the work better". I don't think it's easy to lie about opinions just not to offend people, and I'm really grateful for the way she thinks and works.

And that, makes me more open to feedback than I used to be.

This is a really lengthy entry, but I think it's worth writing because these are elements lacking in so many workplaces. I'm also always thankful, looking back at how she had the faith to hire a Chinese-speaking Poly undergraduate. She's always there, even if she has her ever-buzzing BBM, and one of the many touching things she had said to me was "if anyone of you has a problem, I'd return to be there for you, because MSP is the core and nothing matters if you guys are not okay". (quoted 75%)

The truth is, I may never find such a good working environment again. But I know, that we would always be friends, and she would always be a sister to me, even if I'm abit afraid of her sometimes.

Thank you for all that you've done for me, and given me (FEIYUE!!!), and letting me know that you care, especially when you bring little souvenirs and/or media tags from events for me to keep. Thank you for respecting and accepting who I am, while challenging my limits to make me a better person. Thank you for going the extra mile halfway around the globe for us.

Some of the many memories I got to keep from MSP, with love.

I love you for all that you've done, and for who you are, in reality and in face of us. (: