Five things I learned from a 20 year old this past week.

April 28, 2010

I've skirted blogging this past week as I've been hunkered down, styling an advertising job for a client.  It was brutal work but fun.  The client rented this house in Westchester. It's on the market for a mere $14 million (marked down from $16 mill).  Not a bad place to spend 18 hours working...

The best part of the job was working with two really talented assistants:  Bethany Obrecht and Alyssa Kirsten.  Working with spunky twenty year olds (ok, they are more like 25 but still...) always keeps me on my toes.  Working with new assistants is like wearing new shoes.  After a few hours, it can go either way.  These girls came recommended from a gal who I had worked with at  Country Living and who had assisted me there so I trusted her.  Now for full disclusure, I am 38.  How cares about age, you might ask?  Spending a day with a 20 year old is like spending a day in a foreigh country. My experience hasn't bode well for this age group.  I'd noticed that I'd started glossing over the 20somethings over the last year or two.  The summer editiorial interns were increasingly hitting my hot buttons.  Between their lack of motivation to do a good job or their lack of respect for what we were doing, I had lost faith in the Millennium generation.  I knew of HR groups that were hosting 101 sessions for managers on how to engage and retain these workers since they were so quick to exit if they had to do one too many copies at the copier. I was not impressed.  

But I lucked out.  The gals  I hired are going places.  Bethany is co-owner of, which makes chic dog leashes and donates 25% of the profits to animal rescue.  Her leashes have already been in Martha Stewart Living and sold at some of the coolest shops in the USA.  She's also a photographer, does some modeling and rents out her adorable garden apartment in Brooklyn as a Bed & Breakfast. And in her spare time she is a dog foster mother.   I am not convinced that she sleeps.  

Alyssa is also a talented photographer whose work can be found at her site,  She specializes in portraits and just shot her first story for Fortune Magazine (Go Allysa!).  She also has a keen eye for prop styling and is somewhat of a frugal gourmand whose  recipe for doctored up roman noodles made my mouth water.  

Here are 5 things that I learned from them this past week: 

1.  Just Go For It.
When propping, Bethany approached a store owner about her leashes.  She's  fearless in asking and why not?  Both girls have a lot going on and obviously while not everything will pan out, they don't let the climb up the mountain stop them.  Both girls were yes women. They were saying yes to all work opportunities and pushing themselves.  Rejection just wasn't a factor.  Each of them seem to be jumping over a lot of puddles on the ground.  You know when you are a kid and you jump over one that you don't think you can make but you do? That is what they are doing.  Sure they might miss a few but they continue to jump. 

2.  Enjoy the process
Everything seems to mean more when you get older. The jobs, dating, life in general seems to hold more pressure and stress.  A 20 year just sees it for what it is, an opportunity. Didn't get the job?  So be it.  Date didn't call back. There will be others.  Band broke up? Ok, you get the picture....They would work to find fun in the job.  And it made it more enjoyable for me that they did. 

3.  Build up your lunch room community.
Still in that school cafeteria mode before life schedules them down, they seem to always be working to get together with friends and friends of friends and friends of friends of friends. Granted, they don't have to worry about husbands, babysitters and job demands  etc. in their planning so much but they keep up the active social life of a recent post grad and it works to their work advantage.  It made me wonder when is the last time I added someone to my speed dial.  

4.  Make technology work for me. 
Rather than focusing on how difficult, expensive, stupid I think it is (and sometimes I really do), I focus on how technology can allow me to work and life differently and better than before. I don't have to be at a desk to work.  It has expanded the notion of an office to anywhere, basically.  But these girls were rock stars with the iphone and took it to another level. They basically ran their business from it.  While I love my iphone and think it is helping me to manage my life better, they showed me a few tricks that made it even more indispensable.  They were taking the best of technology and making it really work hard for them.  It allows for smart multi-tasking if done well.  And best of all, it wasn't hard.  

5.  They ask for help.
They asked me if contacts and picked my brain on things.  It was smart, natural networking.  When problems arose, they were quick to ask for help. For instance, we were creating an Indesign file and needed help exporting, Bethany called a tech friend at work and got us the answer.  It didn't come off as a sign of weakness or incompetence but rather, let's get this job done and move on.  

Thanks, gals, for the lessons.  You both are class acts! 

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