“You’re so corporate,” my cousin said, rolling his eyes. We were in my hotel room at the Holiday Inn in Macau (where we got a free upgrade to business class). I had just finished telling him about how I had built relationships with some of the people in the firm I’ll be starting with. I laughed his comment off but that comment stuck with me for a while.
What does being corporate mean?
So I’ve realized over these past few months how easy it is to fall into a Corporate Mindset.
At the last Meet the Firms I attended as an ambassador, a girl came up to me and through a gritted smile, asked, “Ophie, where are the important people?” I looked at her for a long, long time.
After having been involved in an accounting organization for a very long time and meeting hundreds of people, after finishing a sophomore conference and my internship, I’ve identified at least two types of people in the public accounting world.
The first type of person is genuine. This person treats everyone the same – regardless of whether or not that other person can help them. This person smiles, makes an attempt to make small talk, and is friendly just because he/she strives to be a good person. Then there is the second type.
Regarding the girl I discussed earlier, when I first joined the organization she was pretty cold to me and would not engage in conversation with me at all. I think I tried at least four times that semester to make some sort of small talk with her but she would just give one-word answers and not even look in my direction. Apparently, she does this with a lot of other people too – mainly her peers and people who are new to the club.
The second type of person that I have identified is actually quite rare but they are out there. These are the people who, if you don’t have anything to offer them, don’t have a reason to really want to talk to you or get to know you. They might not always be mean or cold, but they just don’t care. And that’s okay, because that’s being human.
But tying this back into the discussion of being corporate, I realize that I am that first type of person. Even if people think I am kissing ass, I know that I genuinely like to meet people and get to know them. Whether I am talking with a partner or an intern, I am the exact same way. I am the SAME person.
Wherever God takes me, I never want to sink into a Corporate mindset where it’s all about getting to know the ‘important people’ and disregarding everyone else. Where you’re so focused on being politically correct and glossy that you forget what it’s like to be human. For a while, the idea of having to kiss ass and be fake tortured me. I was like, ‘that’s not who I am.’ But I’ve just began to really understand that if you are genuine, people appreciate that. And the ones who don’t… don’t matter.
The last conversation I had with a partner lasted about forty minutes. I was at the full-time offer celebration event in Florida and mistook him for an intern initially – lol. But I got to talk to him one-on-one and I was just genuinely myself that time. I had spent half my internship stifling who I was so I didn’t offend people so by the time that I got my offer, I was like, “Nope. This is me. No more faking it.”
Later on, he would tell a friend of me that he was impressed by how ambitious I was. And I was just myself. I treated him the exact same way I would have treated someone I was meeting for the first time at church. And that’s just who I am. And it makes me feel good to understand this.
When I was new to the club, I was rejected a lot during my first semester. A lot of the board members didn’t even remember meeting me – let alone my name (introducing myself twice). But I never gave up, because I remembered that those who don’t mind are the ones who matter.
I was also encouraged by something Heather Lindsey shared about God and where He’s placed us in this world. She said that God placed us here for a unique purpose, and that if we don’t fulfill that purpose and if we are not true to ourselves… that the world is worse off.
So even though I got quite a few cold looks that semester (and the one after) … and even though people would forget even MEETING me let alone my name… I never gave up. I focused on those who DID matter, friends who I would rise to the top with. And when I came into power, I promised myself that I would do my best to make sure that the members after me would have a better experience. One where they felt accepted and welcomed into the club.
Fast forward from 2014 to 2017.. when I was having lunch with a good friend of mine. We met through a system that I had implemented. She is now part of the executive board at the club. She looked at me and said that because I pushed the idea of everyone treating everyone equally so hard, she was going to do her best to promote that same atmosphere of openness and hospitality.