Er, how come I wasn’t on the memo explaining the simplest of my most recent revelations: the richness of life is directly related to the quality of my decisions? Rocket science this is not but still, I am seriously peeved, perplexed and now need to phone a friend to share this most recent of my phenomena’s.
Granted I didn’t have to mastermind an MBA to manifest this revelation, just a series of serious migraines. Which is why one of my most favorite of all activities is to go into schools and share with young adults my life’s worth of mess-ups and also many great high points with my aim for them to realise:
This really is not rocket science.
Sadly my most recent excursion to The Holy Trinity School in Kidderminster to meet one of my favourite headmasters and blog critiques; Ernest Carthwrite was scuppered by my son’s health. Not to make too light a point of it, Pierce will be absolutely fine and I was gutted to have missed spending time at the school and plan to reschedule ASAP. Maybe with Pierce in tow next time.
So onto the most asked questions by Ernest’s students with my answers below
How can I follow my dream when I’m going to be heavily in debt after university?
First of all congratulations choosing University as a next option, taking you that bit further along your windy yellow brick road. Consider the adventures about to unfold for you! Experiences and learning beyond your wildest dreams. Sucks about the possible debt situation. I hear you. But you also may get run over by a bus or decide to drop out part way through the course and go live in an Ashram. They’re possibilities. Or you may discover this course helps to open up so many opportunities and different paths, the world is about to become your pearly white oyster. My years have taught me it’s key to focus on what I want, gloss over and always consider what I don’t want, sure and then keep it locked up back there in the safety deposit box part of my brain. Damn I lost the access code! But to make a problem/obstacle or challenge, the centre of a dream and to give it such a starring role! Absolutomondo not! Wrong wrong wrong. The resultant debt post uni, is what it is and my suggestion would be to visit your family’s money man to see if he has any tricks up his sleeves or if you have no such person in your life, Martin Lewis’s website – (Money saving expert http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/students) may offer you some ventures you can get involved with while at uni. Stuff you can fit in around your studies. See this next suggestion (I have no idea if it works): http://job10.net/finance-journals
My advice: make a plan and always be proactive. Focus on your goal – what do I want? This’ll help you stay ahead of your game and the pack e.g. your competition
Your 2 decisions: 1: to focus on the debt challenge and create opportunities with this problem taking centre stage.
2: to carefully budget and actively search out part time moneymaking opportunities and then focus singly on achieving whatever it is your dream may be.
(If you chose 1: You’re almost guaranteed a headache. Choose 2 and you may well still experience a headache, or you may not. You’ve a broader remit of opportunities open to you by making this decision)
Did Melissa Porter plan her career or did it just happen?
Did you ever sit at home and wonder why no one is calling you to invite you out? You flick through your facebook contacts and everyone else seems to be living the dream while you’re sat at home in front of the latest ep. of TOWIE with a bowl of vanilla ice cream?! You’ve got to be in it to win it! Come on and get calling up those pals up, being proactive in making suggestions, posting fun pictures on facebook and spend more time out and about experiencing life. This is how to create opportunities; to get involved. Make it your job to be in amidst the thick of the opportunities. I was the shy geek at school so I’m not necessarily suggesting you become a socialite, (god forbid the thought would have terrified me.) Do your research, become involved with online forums and discussions, jump into the thick of where the noise is happening. Opportunities may be lying dormant anywhere and it’s up to us to unearth and discover them.
I always have my fingers in several pies at any one time and some lead to opportunities and others lead to less satisfying results. Ask plenty of questions. Sometimes people may remark your questions are silly. Maybe to them, but I encourage you to stand firm. To you it’s an important question so stick with it. Keep the eye contact locked to theirs and stay focused, never quivering. I promise it works every time to replace those question bashers firmly onto their back foot! People sometimes think or assume I’m dumb by my choice of question. Who cares, I know different and am confident with my agenda and myself. That said, my chosen paths might not always be the most direct. So be receptive to advice you deem discerning. Keep asking questions and listening to smart answers. Infact even dumb answers are useful as may reassure you, you’re on the right track as are progressing in exactly the opposite direction their advice would guide you. Don’t forget to always look to make contacts, build relationships and learn new stuff. Someone saying no to me, is equally as valuable as a yes. Potentially their answer to my question may have helped me avoid wasting my precious time along a path that someone else has trodden along and gleened an extra insight into. Learning by association is a key life lesson. Also to be discerning is another one!
I always knew I wanted to be happy in whatever it is I chose to do. My challenge? At 17/18 I had no clue how I was going to fill in the gaps. I started by considering what it was I liked to do? Then began to explore, how I was going to make a career from it. Blimey I was 17 years old and people had already started to ask me where I saw myself in 10 years?! On holiday in The Bahamas, how did I know?! I’ve listed below the majority of my jobs along the way (my point is to illustrate I had no clear vision for my career path at the outset but as I began, I started to experience likes and dislikes and my work placements almost became like a filtering process until I finally lunged into opportunities I absolutely started to love more than loathe. My jobs listed are in no particlar order, (distinctly like my thought process):
Kennel maid responsible for looking after dogs and cats. I loved the people and animals part but the pooh collection and being regularly nipped at confirmed I yearned for a little more glamour in my roles.
Working on a production line packing Vanish liquid into bottles. This paid great money and I was able to buy pretty much anything I fancied aged 17 ish. It also made me realize how lucky I would be to do any other job than work on a production line packing liquid into bottles. This became my worst-case scenario job as I became almost mechanical in my thoughts and actions and I also learnt there was more to life than money alone. It was not for me.
Waitress. I worked in a restaurant in Alderley Edge and still site this role as one of my all time favourites. I loved the people, getting all dolled up for work, the theatre of my supreme work performance bringing in greater tips and the constant banter. The smarter I worked the more tips I made. I love this concept and realized from this experience I like flexibility in a role.
Sandwich maker. I made sandwiches for the local businessmen and this is how I became interested in commerce. I remember one man talking about how he made his millions by importing watermelons! I also loved the theatre of standing behind a counter and creating delicious food for interesting customers. Everyone is happy and excited when they come into a sandwich shop and it was amazing to be part of such a positive environment.
Shop assistant Oasis. I didn’t love the bitchiness that I sadly experienced but loved the broad experiences this company offered me as part of my training. I also realized I am classic kind of girl and that fashion makes me look frumpy. Aurevoir tutu tulle skirt! Plus I felt like a caged animal working in a shop from week to week and again my thoughts became almost mechanical. It made me realize I like a bit of spice and variety in my day.
Consumer marketing for Kodak and Timberland, Body Shop and Marks and Spencer, I dreamed, a marketing role would be glam and sexy, sadly only the advertising related parts were and marketing covers a much broader remit. I also recognized, I enjoy working as part of a smaller term vs. within a bureaucratic type of environment. But to this point I am so lucky to have cut my teeth and to have been drilled by a blue chip FMCG market leading company who trained me in the practice of their rigid systems and processes.
Relocating bankers into London from around the world. I loved the autonomy this role brought me. I was responsible for creating my own schedules with clients and adored the flexibility this offered me. My clients were fabulously rich spirited individuals who shared their hectic life stories with me and I thrived on this interaction. The money was dire but I realized the importance of starting from the bottom within an environment you can learn from and one you’ll enjoy and thrive within. My money came later through my happiness and resultant linked successes.
Relocating families from the UK around the world. This was my first TV role and the move from doing my real job to then recreating it on screen was incredible. I was adamant the realness of my role would remain alive but sadly TV people want things done in different ways and this dissonance compromised my integrity, which saw me having to step down from this wonderful prime time show. I learnt that fame and glamour and money sometimes come at a price; loss of integrity, a route I will choose to never tread along.
Refurbishing homes and properties. I loved meeting the people and seeing inside some of the worlds most important, beautiful homes. My challenge; I was never commercial enough to make interiors a sound business for me. I want my clients to love love each and every piece that goes into their home and sadly this did not make commercial sense as takes up too much time and clients don’t want to pay huge fees, they want stuff for their homes. Sometime you have to sell the dream to the client and I learnt I’m a crap sales person and the importance of a complementary business partner.
Hosting events, awards ceremonies and seminars. Boy do I love this part of my job. I get to glam up, be the centre of attention and it be perfectly acceptable. Then to see the smiles on the winners and finalist’s faces when they are presented an award is one of my most precious memorable moments. What other situation or scenario would offer me this?
A receptionist for Ferrari formula 1 design and development, I was able to glam up, had little responsibility, was amazing at the job, plus it paid handsomely. It was a summer job so I knew my end was in sight and intended to make the most of the experience. During my lunch hours I made pals with the designers and they shared with me their designs for the next hottest F1 cars. I love cars so this and meeting Schumacher was a dream job come true for me. Once again I realized I needed to work in an environment that allowed me to get out and about.
Virgin airhostess. Someone told me I could never get the job and my ego explained I must prove them wrong. I got it. I was enticed by the glamour and travel opportunities but simultaneously was offered a TV role so this was one of my prolific sliding doors moments: Flying or TV – I chose the later.
Some people are clear and concise what their career path will be, I thrive on variety and post uni realized that while earning a great salary is important, the thing to really float my boat is people. I need to learn from great people and I yearned to be in a job that would provide me with this opportunity. What do you like doing in a work environment? Also make a detailed list of what would be your worst nightmare jobs and consider why.
How difficult is it to get into television?
Well what do you think? Any sexy of the moment job, you’re going to be against competition. Is same with all things in life, imagine the waiting list of girls wanting to date Mark Wright from TOWIE fame. Or to use the adjective in the question, some may find it ‘difficult’ to date him. Whoever posed this question is already ahead of their game, smart cookie. They’ve identified it’s a competitive market; many many people want to work in this industry.
Decision 1: shall we focus and reminisce and discuss all these other eejits who want our sexy job
Decision 2: let’s shake our ass and go get the job/the man/the car! Where there’s a will there’s a way!
I did a retail marketing degree at Uni and was a pretty solid student. My tutors wanted me to take the plum internships at Aldi, Sainsbury’s or M&S. I had different ideas. I love fashion and glamour and wanted to work, not for a food retailer but for a fashion retailer. So with much noise from my tutors and folks (to which I nodded, grinned and duly ignored the lot of them), I took myself off to London’s Bond Street. I had discovered through my research that this road housed all the prolific fashion designers and I was a woman on a mission for a job. I walked the length and breadth of the street, buzzing each and every one of the fancy gold gilded intercoms and requesting to see the manager please. I then asked for the name of the person to whom I should speak, regarding a work placement. I was greeted with much bemusement, which did nothing but confirm I must succeed in my mission. Many of the store managers thought me bananas and bear in mind 20 years ago I was a chunkier version of myself, donning a curly mop like barnet, had limited fashion prowess, no experience and was not sporting the latest fashion. But I knew I didn’t want to market fruit and veg at Sainsbury’s so my decision was always a clear cut one; I wanted to be happy surrounded by the glamorous smell of size zero and six inch stilettos! Anyway, long story short, both Phyllis Walters who PR Versace and Timberland offered me a year’s work placement. My first work conundrum: Did I take 8,000 pounds pa and work in fashion PR or 10,000 pounds pa and work in consumer marketing? Two completely different opportunities. One working for a brand and the other working for an agency. One working as a marketer and the other working within a section of the marketing remit. It was a sliding doors moment for me. I had begun to create opportunities for myself through being proactive and getting off my butt and placing that vanilla ice-cream right back into the freezer. Which opportunity would you have chosen and why?
Holy Trinity is an international school. Can Melissa Porter tell us about the month she spent in South America?
I had just been dumped and found my fat ass back on my settee with that ice-cream nightmare scenario happening again! My career was flying high in the direction I wanted but my love life was stalling and I wanted to gain some perspective. I was feeling sorry for myself, woe is me, life is tough, TV is difficult, what about my student debt, I’m so fat, wawawawa, stop right there and put a sock in it: Looser! You get the picture? It happens to us all, right?
So I had a think about what makes me happy and came up with the following: children, sunshine and heat. Travel, different cultures, interesting people and learning and having fun. I also wanted to volunteer as had been given so many opportunities by some many kind people I figured it was pay back time. I’m a bit of a scardy cat so wanted to go overseas within a placement I felt was structured and safe and stumbled across an organization called Cross Cultural solutions. I think I wrote all those adjectives into google and the CCS brand popped up. So I packed my bag, again to much noise from my family and friends (to which I smiled and nodded and once again duly ignored) and off I went. This month has to be one of my most enriching, rewarding experiences of my life. I volunteered to help with orphans and each day would play and laugh and sing and dance with them. Picking the spikes from off the rose stems and placing them on our noses like we were rhinos! Underneath the blistering heat of the Peruvian sunshine, with no sun protection to shield their precious skin, these little angels would end up teaching me what it is that makes a soul truly happy! It was a humbling month for me. I worked in the Ayaucho jail with kids born to mothers who had been sentenced because of drug trafficking, attempting to poison their kids and many more gruesome sorry tales. Some of the happiest children I ever met; bar none.
Is Melissa Porter planning to become a writer?
Is a lot of fun to write. For some reason I am able to articulate myself in a much more concise manner vs. verbally. I liken writing to road rage. I gain confidence to express myself when seated behind the smokescreen of my computer. Sometimes expressing myself in ways I would be too timid to offer up in public. It’s also very cathartic for me and sometimes I forget how many people are reading about my feelings as for some reason writing seems like a much more private and personal domain than TV. I am planning to write much more. I’m thinking a column in a daily tabloid newspaper and a book. Decisions.
What are the three most important values in life?
I have only one; to love. Doesn’t everything stem from this one value? Kindness is a by-product of love as is loyalty, honesty and integrity. They are all chips from off the love block and if only we would all approach life via this one singular value. There’d be a whole lot less fighting and war. Amen!
Hope your path to whatever your dream may be is fun filled and good times are had by you! Crack on with some good decision-making!