NURIA BRONFMAN, one of our mentors, has spent 20 years working in the Canadian film industry, 12 of which were spent at the Toronto International Film Festival as Director of Communications and Film Programmer, and five of which were spent at Famous Players as Vice President, Corporate Affairs. During her career Nuria has sat on various industry boards including The Canadian Film Centre, National Screen Institute, Motion Picture Theatre Association of Canada, National Association of Theatre Owners, Marketing Advisory of the Feature Film Fund, and the Abilities Festival. Nuria has worked with and/or for most of the senior film executives in Canada, and during her years at TIFF was a liaison with senior film executives and celebrities at all of the major studios. Nuria is currently the Executive Director of The Motion Picture Theatre Associations of Canada. We were fortunate to have her speak at our premiere PW event, and by popular demand - following are the ten "Rules" that Nuria attributes her success to:
1. MAKE YOUR OWN LUCK
You are in charge of your own future – no one else is. Don't wait around to be given opportunities – create them. Ask if there are things you can help out with that aren't in your area of work, ask if you can join a committee that doesn't necessarily appeal to you, ask if you can improve on something that already exists. Set realistic expectations – if you've only been on the job for a short while, be patient and know that increases in pay and responsibility need to be earned through hard work and determination.
2. THE BUCK STOPS WITH YOU – BE THE SOLUTION
This is not about making crucial business decisions on your own – this is about customer service – both externally to outside clients or stakeholders, and internally to colleagues in other departments who you have to provide a service to. It's very important to be able to provide superior customer service to internal and external clients – when someone asks you a question, or requests something of you – do everything in your power to provide a solution or the answer. The key is for YOU to do the work. You call the different departments, you find the answers, and if you can't call the customer and let them know all the steps you took to try to resolve their issue. This helps create a reputation as a problem solver and a “doer”.
I live by this rule in every part of my life – be it at my kid's school, with organizations I believe in, or at work. There will be times when your colleagues or “customers” are looking for someone to take on a task. Raise your hand. Even, actually especially, if the task seems out of your comfort zone or area of knowledge, take it on, and if you need help enlist others. It will not only be an important learning experience, it will position you as a person who is willing to take on new experiences and grow professionally. It will also show that you have leadership abilities, and that you are not afraid to stretch your abilities. This goes back to the concept of making your own luck – volunteer to help, or join a committee that would normally be out of your sphere. This also helps with the concept of being in the right place at the right time – sometimes when you stretch yourself, you end up being able to take advantage of opportunities that would not normally be available to you. It should be noted here that Nuria volunteered to join us for this initiative and took the time to write these rules for us too!
4. SAY WHAT YOU MEAN AND MEAN WHAT YOU SAY
Be truthful, and be trustworthy – if you say you will do something follow through. Don't make excuses or blame others if a task assigned to you is not accomplished. Take responsibility for your actions. A reputation as someone who does what they say they will do is exceedingly valuable.
5. NO JOB IS TOO SMALL
There is no such thing as “grunt” work – well there is, but do it anyway. Growing in your career means learning as much as you can in every aspect of your job. Through tedious tasks, you learn the building blocks of the industry. The big things can't happen without the small stuff getting done. It's important to show the people you work with and for, that you are not “above” doing certain tasks. As a consultant – I often have to do tasks now that I would rather not have to engage in anymore, but sometimes you have to say to yourself “this comes with the territory”. In order for me to live the kind of life I want, or to move ahead in my career, I have to accept that this is part of it.
6. THERE ACTUALLY IS SUCH A THING AS A DUMB QUESTION
Ask questions – only after you have exhausted every avenue to figure out the problem on your own. This shows initiative and an ability to problem solve. Ask yourself this question before you ask your boss for the answer “if I was the only person in the room, how would I resolve this”. If you still have questions, at least come to your boss with a couple of possible solutions instead of just “what do I do”?
7. YOU GET MORE BEARS WITH HONEY THAN VINEGAR
This industry is notorious for “yellers” – high powered individuals who think it's ok to kick and scream if things don't go their way. Don't fall into this mode of thinking. It's actually a lot easier to get things done when you put a smile on your face, treat people kindly, have a sense of humour, say thank you and you're welcome, ask what you can do to help, be helpful. You can be firm, and you should never be ok with abusive behaviour, but you don't need to cross into the “bitchy” arena to get things done.
8. HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOUR ABOUT YOURSELF AND BE SELF AWARE
Sometimes the only solution is to laugh – humour can diffuse many situations, and shows an ability to not take yourself too seriously. Of course it's not appropriate for every occasion, but if it is – then lighten up, and enjoy. It often makes people around you much more at ease if you approach a situation with a smile on your face. Be self aware – it's very difficult to work with people who cannot admit their mistakes or shortcomings. No one is perfect and if you refuse to acknowledge where there is room for improvement, you will be missing many opportunities for professional growth.
9. DO THE BEST JOB YOU CAN TO THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITY
Having said the above - Having fun on the job doesn't mean you shouldn't take your job seriously. Everyone goofs off every once in a while, and time spent with colleagues can be very valuable, and increase your job satisfaction – however, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't take your job seriously and do it to the best of your ability. Every job is important, and if you do a great job every day, you will be above reproach.
10. WHAT GOES AROUND, COMES AROUND
When I was a kid I watched my dad as he spoke to the janitor at my school the same way he spoke to the CEO of a company – with respect. This was something I learned early on in life, but surprisingly a lot of people still haven't grasped the meaning of it. I can't tell you the number of times I was dismissed wholeheartedly because I was a “lowly” publicist by people who would later have to come and ask me for favours when I was in a position to help them. I realized early on, that the golden rule is correct – you treat people as you yourself would like to be treated and it pays off in the end. The most famous stars – the ones with real staying power that I've ever met are the ones who treated the people who worked for them kindly, who signed every autograph and actually said please and thank you.
The material and information presented here is intended for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice.