How Mary Berry’s boss changed her life

In a recent interview Mary Berry, food author and queen of cakes, recounted the first time she was asked to write a cookery column for a newspaper.  She was terrified and had no idea how to go about explaining a new recipe to readers.  However, she picked up on the  advice of her boss who said “just write as if you were showing me how to cook”  – and that is exactly what she did.  It is this style of writing – giving clear and practical advice to budding cooks – that helped to establish Mary Berry as a popular and accessible food author.  There is little doubt that, for Mary, the advice of her boss was life changing.

Most of us can remember a time in our careers when we have learnt valuable lessons from others, usually, but not always, from a manager or more experienced colleague.  Little pearls of wisdom or remarkable acts we have witnessed tend to stay with us and help us to improve.  I had a difficult and demanding boss when I was a young manager who, despite his faults, demonstrated to me the importance of regular communication with customers.  “It almost doesn’t matter what you say Jeanette” he said “so long as you say something to your customers, and often.”  I was about 28 and hadn’t, until then, appreciated the benefits of good communication and the value of keeping all your stakeholders in the picture.  I have never forgotten and continue to apply that advice.

Of course, learning from others and benefiting from good role models depends on having the good fortune to work with people who are willing and able to pass on their wisdom and knowledge.  But it also depends on our own ability to observe and listen to what’s going on around us.  When I am coaching I often ask clients to identify someone they have worked with who they admire and respect and then work out what these people do that makes them effective.   Most of us work in environments which are a rich source of learning, but we will only learn if we are open to new ways of working and inquisitive about the nature of success in business.

Mary Berry could have remained a competent but unknown journalist if she hadn’t listened to and applied the advice of her boss.  So be observant at work, listen carefully to others, be willing to consider new ideas or different ways of thinking about business problems.  You never know, you might just learn something that changes your life.

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    How Mary Berry’s boss changed her life – Jeanette Purcell Associates

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    How Mary Berry’s boss changed her life – Jeanette Purcell Associates

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