Where’s the boss?
I remember the first time someone called me boss: I giggled. I think I even blushed, but thankfully my dark skin hid the effects. I’m not sure if giggling and blushing is very boss like behaviour, but that was my initial reaction. I loved it, but at the same time, I felt underserving. I didn’t feel like a ‘boss’.
Nonetheless, noticing how happy it made me, my staff soon began greeting me with, ‘Morning, boss’ and questions would be responded to with ‘Yes, boss’. Wow. It seemed so flattering, invigorating, empowering! But, of course, “with great power, comes great responsibility”.
I found myself reading articles on what it means to be a good boss. Most of them listed qualities that I didn’t think I had. My training methods were hardly standard, being extremely hands-off. I hadn’t employed any of the recruitment methods that were being recommended. I started panicking. Was I going to make a mess of this? Had I already made a mess of this?
You see, it was never my dream to own a business. When I was a teenager my career goal was to get a job at Pixar, a US based animation film studio, and have my name in the credits of Shrek 2 (if you watched the credits of Shrek 2, then you know that dream was never realised). In fact, in my 3rd year of university I sort of…well…”hacked” this website and got a phone number for one of the top executives at Pixar. I remember calling him excitedly; certain he would be impressed with my initiative and offer me a job immediately. Instead he angrily demanded to know how I got his number and advised me to contact the Human Resource Department. I was devastated. But in a good way - I got a new dream: I decided I would start my own ‘Pixar’.
So here we are, a couple years after graduation and I have amassed an army of three website developers, one accountant and me. So, not quite the hundreds, if not thousands of employees, that Pixar has – but it’s a start. Everyone has to start somewhere. At the start, I kept trying to remind myself that not everything would be perfect. I tend to set high expectations for myself but the reality is I make mistakes everyday. Often I wonder what kind of image I’m setting for my team. Here I am calling for them to provide the best, and yet my best never seems enough.
There was a day I was sitting with one of the website developers when two people walked into the office. Completely ignoring me, they walked straight to reception and began asking questions. When it was pointed out to them that I was ‘the boss’ it was interesting to see how their attitude towards me changed. At first I was offended that they had initially snubbed me, but I suppose there was nothing about me that made me stand out. If I where a generally wear jeans and t-shirts. My idea of styling my hair is ruffling the top after removing my motorcycle helmet. Plus, like everyone else in the office, I’m in my mid twenties. I can’t tell you how often people I meet ask me what class I’m in at school.
Naturally, I don’t strike most people as the classic image of a business owner. That’s okay. It is fun to challenge stereotypes. Besides, being a boss is more than just having a title – or even an image - its wonderfully demanding privilege that I’ve grown to love. My team are fantastic. For some of them, it’s their first time being employed – and for me, it’s my first time being an employer – so we’re both beginners. My dream now, is to one day be a boss they are proud to work for.
Contact email: akaliza.gara[at]shakingsun.com