“People only take you as seriously as you take yourself.”
When I was 19, I went into business for myself. I was immature in every way – well, besides height. However, my biggest obstacle wasn’t as much perceiving myself as great, but getting others to treat me with respect. When people saw me, they just saw a kid. No one was going to naturally walk into a business situation with me and think I was a big deal. I had to teach people how to treat me. And it wasn’t just getting people to respect my time and energy, but to see the vision in me, and to take what I was saying seriously.
I learned right off that punctuality is really important. I had to ask myself, who am I trying to be? Am I trying to be the person who is late to every meeting, or do I want to be a woman who is always appropriately on time? Maybe you’re like I was, and you try to jam as many things as possible into your day. It’s impossible to do all of them, so you’re always running late. People only take you as seriously as you take yourself, so how serious are you taking your time? If you’re always running late, you’re always teaching people that your time isn’t valuable, and neither is theirs. The bottom line is, we always make time for what’s most important to us. If you’re constantly late to meet with someone, they aren’t important to you, and they’re going to realize it far before you do.
Another great way to teach people how to treat you is how you dress. If you’re not dressed appropriately, it stands out. As a CEO, I definitely notice immediately when someone isn’t dressed for the situation. It’s not about conforming or wondering if everyone will criticize you and judge you. This isn’t high school. But people only take you as seriously as you take yourself, and how you dress shows how seriously you take yourself. We all have an image in our head of what a doctor or a lawyer should look like, and that’s what we look for when we go to those people. You would never hire a lawyer who showed up to court in cargo pants and a polo shirt. They might be a genius, and how they dress won’t change that, but it changes how everyone around them perceives them. If you want to get to the next level, you have to dress in a way that shows everyone that. If you’re content staying at the level you’re at, then go ahead! Wear what you want! But you’d never show up to the gym in high heels and expect to win the respect of the best weight lifter there, so don’t show up to business looking unprepared and expect anyone to think you’re a big deal.