the brilliant Caprice Neely shared with me a piece of advice: if you can get a mentor to also be your boss, you’ll grow tenfold.
Her particular piece of advice shaped my Three Reasons to Work: Fun, Growth, Money. If you’re not getting one of those three, something’s wrong.
Her advice was based on taking a job of less pay, doing something you’re not excited about because the person you’ll work for will teach you wonderful things.
Lucky for me, being a Nike Designer in Tokyo as an ex-pat was not about trading down. And then I hit Jackpot.
For years I’d had simple conversations with Sergio. He was the Design Director in Running for years and our paths had crossed. I knew him to be a modest and humble individual with great talent. But I can only assume he thought me to be - let’s just say, the opposite. Though he’d never say that.
Then, one quiet afternoon in Tokyo, it was decided that I should directly report to Sergio from 5000 miles away. I don’t remember him being excited. At all.
But over the course of the next couple of months, he warmed up to the idea and my abilities. I’m guessing this was due to both seeing my actual work and seeing how happy others were to work with me. I’m guessing.
And soon he started pushing and pulling me with advice. Very little of it was design related. And I appreciated all of it. Though to be honest, all I remember specifically is the encouragement and trust. That was huge. And somewhat new.
But the one specific piece of advice he shared was a common Nike thread.
The time difference from Tokyo to Beaverton had our conversations on his mornings, after he dropped his kids off at school. He remarked that his wife could have easily taken on this task that was somewhat out of his way, but that morning commute was his guaranteed time with his kids. Staying late for work and their busy schedules (getting busier as they got older) meant that their simple alone time was getting shorter. This commute with them was for him. A selfish act of a good parent.
And while I expect my career may suffer a little for these selfish acts, I’m okay with it. I’m greedy.