When I began my career, what I did was part of my identity, my self-worth. My father was a successful advertising executive—Mad Men in real life. I wanted that same thing. It appeared glamorous and smart. An adult playground where the wittier and more in touch with your inner child you were, the more successful you'd be.
I landed a job working for a corporation that had its own in-house advertising group. I made friends with several co-workers around my age and we bonded over coffee and kolaches. The executives referred to us as “the brain trust." Those were heady and happy times, when accepting a paycheck for all the fun I was having seemed like stealing.
Then, life happened. Other opportunities arose and I jumped at them, eager for adventure and success. As I grabbed each ring, I found myself less and less satisfied, and further and further from not only what I loved doing, but from what my strengths were. Suddenly, I was decades into my professional life and the landscape around me was completely unfamiliar. I had gone from happy, creative child-genius doing what came easily and naturally, to a middle-aged woman with permanent scowl lines that I blamed on too much squinting at computer screens, instead of the true cause: utter confusion and devastation. I now spent my workday in a thankless role that no one understood or appreciated. Including myself.
Time For The Big Question
The signs that you're not as happy with your career trajectory as you keep telling yourself include things like finding it hard to fall asleep – or wake up, headaches, muscle aches and pains, or feeling mentally and physically exhausted. You also may find you're not performing up to your usually high standards. Your inner voice is telling you something, so listen. Ask yourself, “Am I headed in the right direction?" If you're experiencing the symptoms above, the answer is NO.
I realized one day that I was unhappier more of the time than I was happy. I looked down the road at the next 15 years doing what I was doing and knew it simply wasn't sustainable. I hadn't paid a lot of attention to how I got where I was, but one thing was clear: I needed to pay a lot of attention to where I went next. I reached out for guidance from a former employer—a woman who had successfully launched her own advertising agency some 30 years ago, and whom I had worked for early in my career.
She asked me simply, “What do you want to be doing, if you could write your own job description?" I thought about it for about 10 seconds and responded with my preferences and strengths. As it turned out, I was just what she and the other co-founders of PrimeWomen.com were seeking, and they were what I needed.
That sort of astral alignment, by the way, is how you know the road you need to take is the one directly under your feet.
Play To Your Strengths
Every one of us has our own genius—a talent, gift or passion. Remember what that is? If you're not sure, there are plenty of ways to find out. One, ask your friends and family. They know you better than anyone and have insight you may be overlooking. What did you love doing as a child? What do you like doing in your free time? What could you do every day without getting paid? What hobby or passion do you have that you couldn't live without? The job you seek may not be exactly that one thing, but it will likely incorporate that skill or strength.
Think about how you like to work. When are you most productive? Do you like working independently? Collaborating? Do you prefer a planned work day, or rolling with the punches as they come?
If you want someone to walk you through some of these questions, meet with a career coach. It only makes sense to invest in yourself during this process. After all, whatever job you choose, you'll be spending a large portion of your life doing it.
Watch For Signs
Have you ever noticed when considering a change, the universe sends you little messages to let you know which way to go? Sometimes the signs are hard to read – or maybe you're especially good at focusing on the road ahead and not noticing the signs flying past as you rocket forward, pedal to the metal. Slow down a bit and put your mind in 'receive" mode. Changing jobs can be a frightening prospect. “The devil you know" versus the one you don't. What if you find your new situation worse than the one you're currently in? What if you don't do well? What if it's different than you expected?
From planning weddings and running restaurants to raising kids and doling out wedding-planning wisdom with her radio show “The Event Jeannie," Uyanik has proven herself to be an inimitable woman with a work ethic that should be emulated. If you have a wedding to plan, who you gonna call? C&G Weddings!
While all valid concerns, if you do your homework before you accept a new position, you'll limit that risk. But you need to pay attention to the signs as you move along this path. If you keep hitting roadblocks, it could be the universe telling you to choose another direction. The more smoothly the process goes, the more confidence you can feel in each step you take.
Now, if you are wondering if you've missed any signs from the universe, the fact that you stopped to read this article may be one. What are you going to do about it?
I walk into a room full of men and I know exactly what they're thinking: "What does she know about whisky?"
I know this because many men have asked me that same question from the moment I started my career in spirits a decade ago.
In a male-dominated industry, I realized early on that I would always have to work harder than my male counterparts to prove my credibility, ability and knowledge in order to earn the trust of leadership stakeholders, coworkers, vendors and even consumers of our products. I am no stranger to hard work and appreciate that everyone needs to prove their worth when starting any career or role. What struck me however, was how the recognition and opportunities seemed to differ between genders. Women usually had to prove themselves before they were accepted and promoted ("do the work first and earn it"), whereas men often were more easily accepted and promoted on future potential. It seemed like their credibility was automatically and immediately assumed. Regardless of the challenges and adversity I faced, my focus was on proving my worth within the industry, and I know many other women were doing the same.
Thankfully, the industry has advanced in the last few years since those first uncomfortable meetings. The rooms I walk into are no longer filled with just men, and perceptions are starting to change significantly. There are more women than ever before making, educating, selling, marketing and conceptualizing whiskies and spirits of all kinds. Times are changing for the better and it's benefitting the industry overall, which is exciting to see.
For me, starting a career in the spirits business was a happy accident. Before spirits, I had worked in the hospitality industry and on the creative agency side. That background just happened to be what a spirits company was looking for at the time and thus began my journey in the industry. I was lucky that my gender did not play a deciding role in the hiring process, as I know that might not have been the case for everyone at that time.
Now, ten plus years later, I am fortunate to work for and lead one of the most renowned and prestigious Whisky brands in the world.. What was once an accident now feels like my destiny. The talent and skill that goes into the whisky-making process is what inspired me to come back and live and breathe those brands as if they were my own. It gave me a deep understanding and appreciation of an industry that although quite large, still has an incredible amount of handmade qualities and a specific and meticulous craft I have not seen in any other industry before. Of course, my journey has not been without challenges, but those obstacles have only continued to light my passion for the industry.
The good news is, we're on the right track. When you look at how many females hold roles in the spirits industry today compared to what it looked like 15 years ago, there has been a significant increase in both the number of women working and the types of roles women are hired for. From whisky makers and distillers to brand ambassadors and brand marketers, we're seeing more women in positions of influence and more spirits companies willing to stand up and provide a platform for women to make an impact. Many would likely be surprised to learn that one of our team's Whisky Makers is a woman. They might even be more surprised to learn that women, with a heightened sense of smell compared to our male counterparts, might actually be a better fit for the role! We're nowhere near equality, but the numbers are certainly improving.
It was recently reported by the Distilled Spirits Council that women today represent a large percentage of whisky drinkers and that has helped drive U.S. sales of distilled spirits to a record high in 2017. Today, women represent about 37% of the whisky drinkers in the United States, which is a large increase compared to the 1990s when a mere 15% of whisky drinkers were women. As for what's causing this change? I believe it's a mix of the acceptance of women to hold roles within the spirits industry partnered with thoughtful programs and initiatives to engage with female consumers.
While whisky was previously known for being a man's drink, reserved for after-dinner cigars behind closed doors, it is now out in the open and accessible for women to learn about and enjoy too.
What was once subculture is now becoming the norm and women are really breaking through and grabbing coveted roles in the spirits business. That said, it's up to the industry as a whole to continue to push it forward. When you work for a company that values diversity, you're afforded the opportunity to be who you are and let that benefit your business. Working under the model that the best brand initiatives come from passionate groups of people with diverse backgrounds, we are able to offer different points of view and challenge our full team to bring their best work forward, which in turn creates better experiences for our audience. We must continue to diversify the industry and break against the status quo if we really want to continue evolving.
While we've made great strides as an industry, there is still a lot of work to be done. To make a change and finally achieve gender equality in the workplace, both men and women need to stand behind the cause as we are better collectively as a balanced industry. We have proved that we have the ability to not only meet the bar, but to also raise it - now we just need everyone else to catch up.