This week I started to receive a number of 'congratulations on your work anniversary' messages from linked in. Almost all of the messages were from people I have never met nor worked with (this is partially my fault for accepting linked in requests for vanity's sake).
After looking at my profile I realised I have been working in the Office Furniture Industry for 20 years and started to reflect on things that I have learnt both personally and professionally and decided to share these.
1) How did this happen? Unless you are a furniture designer almost every other person I have met in the industry 'fell' into it as opposed to chose it. However, with that in mind it is an industry closely linked to fashion and many of the people, companies and products are very smart and inspiring.
Message: embrace everything you do and you will find positivity everywhere.
2) People. Having worked on thousands of projects and with thousands of clients and customers the well trodden phrase 'people buy from people' is not only true in buying but also in selling. Clients who see us as an asset and partner with us tend to find their project outcome is always better and has more long term value.
Message: be nice and value people! It's still free!
3) Places. I wouldn't claim to have worked globally in this industry but over the 20 years Furniture in the UK has taken me pretty much from Lands End to John o'Groats and over to mainland Europe. Have had some very strange and interesting nights out in these places. Varying from being evacuated in the middle of the night in a hotel in Manchester overlooking the Coronation Street set and the same happening in Glasgow to being asked to buy Vodka for the contestants of Jeremy Kyle in the hotel bar - it's been eventful.
Message: whilst in a new place, explore and meet the locals!
4) Buildings. One of the perks of working in this industry is the privilege of having gone to some weird and wonderful buildings. From installing furniture in offices with no floor to 17th century listed buildings and meetings in stunning offices with priceless views of London, one can only be interested in the wonder of Architecture and Building design.
Message: Open your mind at all times and embrace every opportunity to enjoy the built environment.
5) Companies. Interestingly, whilst we have worked with many of the most well known and largest companies based in the UK apart from a name and an office it is the people within the companies (point 2) that are memorable and not the companies themselves. For any company that we have had a positive impact is always far more satisfying than a commodity/transactional deal as office furniture is hardly 'brain surgery' but as they say every job should be 'done with dignity'.
Message: It's all about the people.
In summary whilst like most things there are ups and downs the people that I have met over the last 20 years from both Client and the supply side are more memorable than the amazing products, buildings and companies that we have worked with. All that is left to say is that I look forward to the next 20 years!