Rushing to DIFC to meet an old friend for coffee who was visiting from New York, I was thrilled to be able to catch up with her after nearly a year of not seeing each other. When I got to the Ritz-Carlton, she was already there, with my usual latte ordered for me, placed across the table from her. We hugged and kissed, and then settled into one of those long, open conversations that only old friends can naturally fall into, even after spending so much time apart. After I filled her in on what I had been up to, she looked at me with a big smile and said, “I’m so happy to see you doing so well, you’ve really made it!” I smiled back, warmed by her love and support, but in all honesty, a little taken aback by what she had just said. Yes, I was doing well. But what does it actually mean to ‘make it’? Making it in life has nothing to do with sitting front row at fashion week or how many Instagram followers you might have. To me, those two words seem to reference some sort of end. As though once you make it, all you have to do is lounge by the pool. But life doesn’t work like that.
When I meet a goal, there is no drumroll. Just the sound of my brain whirring away as I immediately get started on my next goal. When you feel like the possibilities are limitless, it’s inconceivable to not try and set the bar even higher than before.
When I began my career, I wanted to be in finance. As a little girl my dad would explain to me how companies worked and the importance that finance played. However, somewhere along my career path, I realised I had a talent for being a smart connector of people and opportunities to organically create something powerful. This was something that helped me in every job I had, from working with hotelier Steve Wynn, to producing Keeping Up With The Kardashians, and is now the backbone of what I do. While I never set out to become a consultant, being aware of my natural talents and applying them to every job, as well as every twist and turn that life threw me along the way, is how I have ended up where I am today.
How I got here is one of the most common questions that I get asked. Here are some pointers to consider that will help you get to where you want to be:
1. Monetise What You Are Good At: Skill sets aren’t nearly as black and white as they used to be. As a consultant, I help companies solve some of their biggest problems, and I bring people and companies together. My knack for connecting the dots and coming up with creative solutions has been the key component for every job I’ve had. You may not think of a talent you have as useful, but nearly any skill you have can be an asset in your career.
2. Find a Mentor: While everyone’s path is different, finding someone to mentor you who has the career that you want can help speed you along. Instead of asking them for favours, ask them for their advice. Even the smallest bits of advice from an industry insider can give you a huge advantage, and can prevent you from making career mistakes that others may make.
3. Get Organised: This is the key to doing more than you than you thought was ever possible in a day; there is a lot of planning and organisation that goes into my weekly schedule. What really works for me is to make countless handwritten notes. I also keep my schedule open at all times on my computer, so that I can stay right on top of what needs to be done.
4. Learn When to Say No: Saying no is one of the most terrifying things you can learn to do. It’s nerve-wracking, and there’s a high chance that you will wonder if you have done the right thing. My advice is to trust your gut, keep your eye on the big picture, and never burn a single bridge. You’ll be surprised at how often you may need to cross it later on.
5. Learn When to Say Yes: While I didn’t end up in the career I envisioned for myself as a little girl, I ended up somewhere even better. Sometimes an opportunity arises that may not seem to be a part of your career goals, but is too good to pass up. Keeping your mind, eyes, and heart open can often take you somewhere even more amazing than you could have ever imagined for yourself.
So back to that original question of what ‘making it’ really means? In my opinion, it all depends on what you want in life, what goals you set for yourself, and the many factors that will change along the way. Because, trust me, they will change. If you can utilise your personal talents and skills, and rise to meet every opportunity and challenge that life throws your way, then no matter what path you take, in my book, you’ve made it.
This article appears in the April issue of Harper's Bazaar Arabia, on stands now