Professional, but Not Polished

December 15th, 2016 Daisy Smith

During my first week at 14 West I was fortunate enough to be a part of a meeting they called the Global Collaboration Summit. Colleagues traveled from as far as England, Ireland and Australia to sit down and trade notes with the team I’d just begun working for. Over the span of a week, we covered a range of topics from the Human Resources, Talent Acquisition and Communications worlds – some of which were entirely unfamiliar to me, but it was an exciting learning experience.

A portion of the summit included discussions and presentations about “culture.” I’d recently been on “the job search,” and finding a company where I would “fit in” was high on my wish list. I wanted to find a company that provided their employees with an equal balance of purpose and challenge, as well as play and comfort. I wanted to find a place where I could be myself (i.e., talk like myself, dress like myself) while still continuing to be pushed outside of my comfort zone in my work, and contribution to the organization. I value my identity, and didn’t want to work for a company that only wanted to turn me into a lemming.

When the Summit ended – in just a week’s time – I could already see that I was successful in finding a company that demonstrated this balance. During a presentation on brand and culture, 14 West chose to describe themselves is “professional, but not polished.” and I immediately had an “ah-ha” moment. THIS is how I would choose to describe myself.

For me, being professional is natural and even enjoyable, but being polished can be suffocating and distracting. I am more comfortable wearing jeans and a sweater, sitting “crisscrossed applesauce” with my computer in my lap, rather than being stuck in a pant suit and heels for 40 hours a week. Being able to feel and look like myself allows me to focus on what matters- delivering meaningful work that keeps the business moving forward.

And yet while 14 West does not claim to be “polished,” we still strive to exude professionalism in everything we do. While I am more comfortable dressing casually, I take what I do seriously and I want to be great at it. I’d like to be so good at it that I can stay as long as I like – because I’m happy here. I’m me. I feel comfortable in displaying my individuality here, and as a result, feel more creative and at ease sharing ideas. Being able to show up to work as myself affords me a certain level of comfort, and this comfort encourages me to be more creative. I feel more open to others’ ideas (even the really weird ones) and more comfortable asking for help or direction when I really need it.

Because I know I’m not being judged on whether my shirt is starched, and instead, I am treated as an equal.

Daisy Smith

Assistant Director, Communications

"Don’t take yourself too seriously.”

I found myself at 14 West after 18 months of traveling and teaching in Bali, Thailand, and Australia. And now 5 years later, I’ve learned and grown with my team in extraordinary ways. I think that’s due in large part to the fact that I’ve been encouraged to approach my work and explore my potential in the same ways I’ve explored other parts of the world. I’m constantly asking questions, seeing and doing new things. And learning A LOT. I didn’t expect to find an experience like this in “an office back home.”

I love my position at 14 West because I’m invited to take on a diverse range of responsibilities. From running our Wellness Program to brand development and brand marketing to writing, I have a broad range of interests. And my role allows me to develop my skills through work that truly excites me. I have a hard time saying no to new projects, even when I already have a full plate. But when I take on too much, the leaders here are there with the support I need to get the job done. At the same time, I’m given the creative freedom to feel real ownership over my projects, which only motivates me more.

What is one thing you have to do every day in the office? Gotta have my essential oil diffuser going. Five of us share an office and we’re all hooked on the diffuser now, but it’s my job to create the perfect oil cocktail each morning to set the tone for the day. I’m obsessed.