Vicky Oliver Show Notes Page
Vicky Oliver was working at an advertising agency on September 11, 2001. After that day, Vicky decided to do a career redirect. She set upon a path to use her skills in a different way that ultimately led her to write about Bad bosses, Crazy Co-Workers and Other Office Idiots.
Vicky was born and raised in New York City. She grew up as an only child. Her parents were divorced when she was young. Then her mom remarried. Vicky’s mother, father, and stepfather were all in advertising — which was Vicky’s first career.
Her family talked about advertising at the dinner table. Vicky did not want to go into advertising, originally, but did want to write. She started writing poems at the age of 6. She was even asked to start the school newspaper at one of her schools. By 17, Vicky was writing in-depth journalistic pieces for a newspaper that was free and could be found in the lobbies of buildings.
Vicky Oliver started her career life as a receptionist in advertising, then was promoted to secretary. After that she was promoted to junior copywriter. Eventually, Vicky became a creative director. At a certain point, she wondered what else she could write besides ads and TV spots that were making her clients rich.
Vicky noticed that she had had a lot of jobs in advertising and also always managed to secure good jobs. Once Vicky started hiring people to work for her, she began to think about a book on job hunting. Mainly due to all the mistakes the candidates Vicky met with made. She thought, “he showed up late, didn’t know my name, didn’t know the clients we have… I should write about this.” Then one day, she did.
Vicky Oliver, is a leading career development expert and the multi-best-selling author of five books, including Bad Bosses, Crazy Coworkers & Other Office Idiots. She is a sought-after speaker and seminar presenter and a popular media source, having made over 700 appearances in broadcast, print and online outlets.
Vicky currently resides in Manhattan, basically 30 blocks from where she grew up.
Tweetable Quotes and Mentions
“The grass is not greener in another company.” -Vicky Oliver Click to Tweet
“Some people, for whatever reason, drive us nuts.” -Vicky Oliver Click to Tweet
“There are different personality types, that drive different people crazy for different reasons.” -Vicky Oliver Click to Tweet
“You can escape a person, but you can’t escape that type of person.” -Vicky Oliver Click to Tweet
“You will not advance as far if you keep job hopping.” -Vicky Oliver Click to Tweet
“Growing within a company is usually your best strategy for career advancement.” -Vicky Oliver Click to Tweet
“If you have a problem with somebody at the office, they have a problem with you.” -Vicky Oliver Click to Tweet
“If you’re strong in certain areas you should hire people who are strong in other areas than yourself.” -Vicky Oliver Click to Tweet
“Leadership is a certain skillset where you are literally inspiring the people around you to greatness.” -Vicky Oliver Click to Tweet
“Leadership is a privilege, you have buy-in from the people you lead.” -Vicky Oliver Click to Tweet
“You always have to be customer-centric.” -Vicky Oliver Click to Tweet
“Sometimes it’s better to show up in person and be there.” -Vicky Oliver Click to Tweet
“You have to build a level of trust within the other people in the company.” -Vicky Oliver Click to Tweet
“It’s going to take you awhile to build credibility.” -Vicky Oliver Click to Tweet
“Be mentally present, in the present.” -Vicky Oliver Click to Tweet
“Sometimes you have to put your future aspirations on the back burner.” -Vicky Oliver Click to Tweet
“You always want to be a person that solves a problem and not creating a problem.” -Vicky Oliver Click to Tweet
“Sometimes you just have to figure out the path.” -Vicky Oliver Click to Tweet
“You have to say to yourself, take a risk.” -Vicky Oliver Click to Tweet
Hump to Get Over
Vicky Oliver was working at an advertising agency on September 11, 2001. After that day, Vicky decided to do a career redirect. She set upon a path to use her skills in a different way that ultimately led her to write about Bad bosses, Crazy Co-Workers and Other Office Idiots.
Advice for others
You actually have to tell yourself to take a risk.
Holding her back from being an even better leader
Sometimes you just have to figure out the path. If you figure out the path you get further.
Best Leadership Advice
Learn how to listen well and be a good speaker.
Secret to Success
I’m extremely organized.
Best tools that helps in Business or Life
I have a depth of experience and learn from others. I now have a repository of wisdom.
Contacting Vicky Oliver
email: vicky [at] vickyoliver.com
Resources and Show Mentions
54 Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Competencies List: Emotional Intelligence has proven to be the right kind of intelligence to have if you want to move onward and upward faster. Get your free list today.
Show Transcript:Click to access edited transcript
Intro Welcome to the Fast Leader Podcast, where we uncover the leadership like hat that help you to experience, break out performance faster and rocket to success. And now here’s your host, customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, Jim Rembach.
The number one thing that contributes to customer loyalty is emotions. So, move onward and upward faster by gaining significantly deeper insight and understanding of your customer journey and personas with emotional intelligence. With your empathy mapping workshop you’ll learn how to evoke and influence the right customer emotions that generate improve customer loyalty and reduce your cost to operate. Get over your emotional hump now by going to empathymapping.com to learn more.
Jim Rembach: Okay, Fast Leader legion, today I’m excited because I have somebody on the show today that’s going to help us with something that probably all of us have an issue with that those bad bosses and crazy co-workers and other office idiots that drive us nuts. Vicky Oliver was born and raised in New York City. She grew up as an only child. Her parents were divorced when she was young then her mom remarried. Vicki’s mother father and stepfather were all in advertising which was Vicky’s first career. Her family talked about advertising at the dinner table Vicky initially didn’t want to go into advertising but she did want to write. She started writing poems at the age of six, she was even asked to start the school newspaper at one of her schools. By 17 Vicky was writing in-depth journalistic pieces for a newspaper that was free and could be found in the lobbies of buildings. Vicky Oliver started her career life as a receptionist in advertising and then was promoted to secretary after that she was promoted to junior copywriter.
Eventually, Vicky became a creative director. At a certain point, she wondered what else could she write besides ads and TV spots that were making her clients rich. Vicky noticed that she had a lot of jobs in advertising and also always managed to secure good ones. Once Vicky started hiring people for herself she began to think about a book on job hunting mainly because a lot of candidates made mistakes, she thought, they showed up late, didn’t know my name didn’t know the clients we have, I should write a book about this, and then one day she did.
Vicky Oliver is a leading career development expert and the multi best-selling author of five books including–Bad Bosses Crazy Co-workers and other Office Idiots. She’s a sought-after speaker and seminar presenter and a popular media source having made over 700 appearances in broadcast, print and online outlets. Vicki currently resides in Manhattan basically 30 blocks from where she grew up. Vicki Oliver, are you ready to help us get over the hump?
Vicky Oliver: Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me.
Jim Rembach: I’m glad you’re here. I’ve given our legion a little bit about you but can you tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better.
Vicky Oliver: I really like to help people both who are looking for work and also help people survive their workplaces. I do that by writing articles, writing books, speaking out about it, giving seminars and also I run a small consulting practice here in Manhattan where job candidates come and talk to me in person.
Jim Rembach: When so when you start thinking about all of those things that you’re doing, where do you that you get the most passion?
Vicky Oliver: I get the most passion—I feel like I’m a writer first and foremost and I like to set my thoughts down in words first. But then once I feel like I’ve found the path the problem and the solution and kind of figured out how to solve something then I like to meet people in person and do it that way.
Jim Rembach: So that makes sense. One of the things that I’d also noticed in the book is the way that you have it. The end of the book the thing for me that had the most meat because I definitely like the whole focusing on self being aware of self, it’s what we talk about an emotional intelligence, because when we can do that then we can start really making some changes for the better. One of the things that you said, towards the back of the book, to me I think was a gem. You said, if you’re considering leaving your job to run away from that particular person, a boss, a colleague and under League or even someone in a different department who drives you crazy rest assured you will encounter the identical problem elsewhere.
Vicky Oliver: Yes. I feel that the grass is not greener in another company. If you have of difficulty working for the “Devil Wears Prada” then you’re going to have difficulty working for her at another company. Some people for whatever reason drive us nuts. My mother—I love you mom—my mother is very autocratic. When I was working in advertising I had difficulty working for extremely autocratic people. They reminded me of my mother who was also in advertising, right? So, that’s the type that drives me nuts. Somebody else the person that drives them nuts is the guy that’s never there they need their boss’s permission he’s never around they’re chasing him all over the country and maybe even to Europe can’t find him can’t do anything because he’s not there. They’re different personality types that drive different people crazy for different reasons and the idea of my book was to mark all of those personality types, I think they’re about 40 or something in the book, then as a reader figure out who is driving me crazy today? Go look up some proactive tips on what to do with that person how to deal with them and then put the book away for another day. it’s a thesaurus of all the people who can drive you crazy and here’s what you can do about that.
Jim Rembach: Well, I think the fallacy is that people think that they can escape those people, that environment but that’s not always the case. The fact is that it could damage you and your career in the long term.
Vicky Oliver: Correct.
Jim Rembach: You can escape a person but you cannot escape that type of person. If it drives you crazy for someone to be looking over your shoulder, looking over your to-do lists, micromanaging you if that type of person drives you crazy that type of person is always going to drive you crazy until you learn how to conquer that personality type. And once you learn to conquer that personality type they will no longer drive you crazy. Now, let’s look at the opposite way, let’s say, oh
Vicky Oliver: I’m going to escape that person I’m going to go to Company B now and then that person now that type will still be there me crazy now I’m going to hop to company C. What happens? Well, usually in the job hop you get a little more money when you hop so your finances will improve slightly. However, you lose a great deal too because you have lost the time you put in to pay your dues at those companies, you have lost the trust because you keep job hopping. You have lost a lot in your career by doing it that way. A lot of times you will not advance as far if you keep job hopping, you will not advance as far whereas if you stay in a place and you learn how to conquer some personality types then you grow within the company. Usually, growing within a company is your best strategy for career advancement not job hopping.
Jim Rembach: That’s a really good point. The thing that I see where people end up starting to hit their flow is when they really focused in on something and gain some subject matter expertise within it and then they’re recognized and appreciated for that depth of expertise. And that is what allows them to get the jobs of greater responsibility and even greater pay instead of that little bump. But if you can’t deal with these different types of personalities you’re essentially just kissing all of that goodbye.
Vicky Oliver: You are, you are. It’s a real issue and I think that a lot of people especially, not to paint a whole generation with a wide brush especially the millennial generation, I think that that is not something that young people are thinking about today. They don’t they don’t think in terms of my whole career they just think in terms of this job, this position, I think that’s a mistake I really do. It’s better often to learn how to deal with that personality and also a lot of times if you have a problem with somebody at the office they have a problem with you. And there problem with you may be making them look for work elsewhere. So, by resolving to stay try to conquer it and then if necessary make them leave a lot of times that is a way of getting yourself promoted. Like if that person is your boss and you don’t get along with the person but you try really hard you try and you try and you try and then eventually that person leaves there’s a space for you to move in to.
Jim Rembach: That’s a good point. When you start thinking about that next step of responsibility or that higher step of responsibility at some point you’re still going to have to learn how to deal with those different personalities. The reality is if you build a team of people who you can only get along with, you’re cutting out a huge opportunity to gain benefit from having a diverse team. You’re only going to have people that essentially function a particular way or think a particular way and you essentially put yourself into the downsides of the groupthink, the negative side.
Vicky Oliver: Yes. I think that’s actually an excellent point. A lot of times people do hire people who remind them of themselves and who are basically duplicating their strengths. And so you end up with these lopsided teams which are very strong in certain key areas but exceptionally weak in other areas. Whereas if you master different personalities that will not be a factor that will not be a factor for you. You will be able to organize teams and think about team building in a different way where you are basically using people’s strengths. If you’re strong in certain areas you should hire people who are strong in other areas than yourself so that you have more of a balance.
Jim Rembach: It also brings up the point and you and I had talked about this before where there’s a difference between managing and leading. We may have many years ago been able to get away with not having skills in both particular areas because we had so many different levels and hierarchies within organizations but all that stand out so now I have to build skills in both.
Vicky Oliver: Right, you do. I just want to quickly sort of talk a little bit about what at least I think the differences are. For me management is something that is process oriented, it’s task-oriented but that is not leadership. Leadership is a certain skill set where you are literally inspiring the people around you to greatness. You can be the boss and hopefully you are, try to inspire your people to greatness but you can also do it from a mid-level position. The point is leadership is a privilege and a privilege means you have to have buy-in from the people that you lead. You might not be a boss and you might have 20 people underneath you but if they’re not buying into your vision and what you see for the company they are not going to extend themselves for you they’re not going to take risks for you.
Jim Rembach: You bring up a really interesting point for me on the Fast Leader show I kind of try to always pull things back to the customer experience and talk about customer centric leadership. When I start thinking about leading, leadership and talking about all the people who you’re focusing in on today, how much is that customer experience aspect come into play with all the work that you’re doing versus say just a few years ago?
Vicky Oliver: I think you always have to be customer centric a company always has to be thinking about the end person, that’s really critical. A lot of times just feedback mechanisms that you can build will help you figure out what the customer experience is and that is really essential. What I’m talking about here is leading a group a company to become better at what it is that they do. Part of that is just being able to take risks and inspiring people to take risks and not being so frightened sometimes if a risk fails.
Jim Rembach: When we start talking about all of this and dealing with all of these people whether we get along with it or not it’s loaded with passion. One of the things that we look at on this show in order to be able to energize us our quotes. Is there a quote or two that you can share that you like?
Vicky Oliver: I’ve always liked leadership as a privilege I just think that’s a great quote. And I also it’s a sort of the opposite—I also have always really liked the Woody Allen quote, 50% or maybe it’s 80% of life is showing up. I think that sometimes 80 % of life is showing up and that doesn’t mean just showing up and going through the motions necessarily. For example, I think it’s interesting to think about in today’s environment with flex hours, people working more from home, sometimes it’s better to show up and show up in person and be there. Sometimes it’s better to not skip the meeting, show up be there, get enthused. Have a group discussion about your goals so that you can all be more productive together.
Jim Rembach: That’s a really good point. There was a study that I reading the other day talking about the workplace and saying how one of the key factors in this whole engagement component, and you even talked about it a moment ago, is kind of in line with that whole concept of privilege as a leader is the whole appreciation component. And when you were talking about the show up I started thinking about people kind of see that as an appreciation.
Vicky Oliver: Yeah. They’re showing up and they’re showing up. One of the things I talk about especially in terms of job hunting, but I think it’s appropriate here too, is being mentally present. If you are at a job interview E and you show up but you are sitting there in the reception area on your cellphone, on your mobile device texting your friends while you’re waiting, you are not mentally present. If you’re in an in-person meeting at a company and you’re texting your wife, hey what are we having for dinner? You are not mentally present. Showing up and going through the motions that’s not what I’m talking about. You should show up and really put your cellphone on vibrate and don’t look at it, don’t look at it you’re there to have an in-person interaction with the people that you’re working with. I think that will go further in terms of your team goals than just showing up and sort of shuffling through the motions.
Jim Rembach: Okay, so when you were talking I started thinking about this whole Bad Boss Crazy Co-Workers and other Obvious Office Idiots and how much your own mental presence has to play in all of that.
Vicky Oliver: It does, it really does. To just show up in terms of—30 40 years ago people could sort of show up and just go through the motions that’s not going to work today because they’ve gotten rid of all these middle layers. So, everybody has to be there and be really super pumped and do three jobs. You have to lead, you have to manage and you have to be the mailroom guy you’re doing three jobs when you’re there so you have to be really mentally present.
Jim Rembach: And you can’t do all that stuff well if you’re a job hopper, right?
Vicky Oliver: I think you can do it well but I think the problem is the other people. If you job hop and then you go to a new company those people, especially some old-timer who has paid their dues for 20 years they’re not going to give you the great assignments they’re not going to give you the plum assignments on day one. You may want them and you may feel like you deserve them but you’re not going to get them. You have to build a level of trust within the other people in the company. They have to see that you’re a good team player, that you have great ideas, that you’re enthusiastic that you work late and hard all those values you have them and it’s going to take a while to build that kind of credibility that’s the problem. They’re not going to give it to you on day one you have to put in another year. Just of think of that, every time you say, I hate this person at the office and he’s driving me nuts I got to leave, do you really have to go? Or could you tame him train him work with him discuss it as an issue make peace with that person. Make peace with his imperfections and his foibles and work together so that the year you just put in counts and it counts towards your future advancement.
Jim Rembach: It’s easy I think to pick on a particular group of people, oftentimes we talk about managing millennial and all that because they want the corner job today and then they get frustrated because they can’t get it. When I was younger I kind of had that same mindset, I’m like, hey give me the opportunities based off of my performance not because there’s some concept in your mind that I have to pay a dues. How does one learn how to do what you had said in the book which is, have patience learn how to practice these things and persevere?
Vicky Oliver: I’m not sure how you learn it but I think it’s just a helpful mindset to try to get into it. I’m thinking back when this is kind of you want to know personal story, I think this is kind of a funny story, when I first started in advertising as a receptionist I was dating somebody at the time and I think he was more embarrassed about the fact that I was so low on the totem pole at this place than I was. We would run into friends of mine in New York, in Manhattan where I live and he would be like, oh she’s an account executive she’s an account executive Vicki’s an account executive** a receptionist. So I know I had a little impatience back then also but you just have to say that some people there have worked very, very, very hard and long to rise and other people are superstars maybe and they’ve worked a little faster but no matter how it goes you want to do the best job you can do every day. Again it’s sort of about being mentally present in present to say, okay even if this is a low-level job that I’m at and it’s not that exciting it’s not that mentally challenging I’m going to do the best job I can do today at this task because I’m mentally present I’m here in the present I’m not here plotting my future 25 years from now I’m here right now. If you do that every day and you just do the best job you can that minute, that second, that day, people will recognize you. And it will happen faster for you probably than if you’re sitting there like, oh how come they haven’t promoted me I’ve been here for three months? Because that kind of attitude will get some people very, very annoyed at you like the person hired you. They hired you to do a task and here you are saying, get me out of this task I can’t stand it I’m too smart for this, they’re not going to like you and they’re not going to want you to succeed. Sometimes, you just have to put your future aspirations a little bit on the back burner and do the actual job you were hired to do which usually comes down to solving problems. You always want to be like a person that solves a problem and it’s not creating a problem.
Jim Rembach: I think that’s a great point. Okay, so you kind of talked a little bit about that time where you may have learned something and those are important things for us. When you start thinking about getting over a hump and it became something that—was really something that you could learn from and help you change a particular course of direction for the better, can you tell us that time?
Vicky Oliver: I know that in New York City around the time of September 11, 2001, when there was a terrible terrorist attack here in New York I was in Manhattan and was working at an ad agency at that time, and then a few months later there were all these articles that came out about people switching their careers. Because it was a giant wake-up call in general, I would say, for everybody. Especially here in New York City a huge terrible wake-up call where we suddenly realized like, oh, tomorrow we may die. And for me I said to myself it looks like a year-long process after that day but I said to myself, I’m a really good writer but I’m not sure if I want to die just making big corporations wealthy maybe I could use my skills to either make me wealthy or make other people wealthy but not huge, huge companies it just it was like a redirect. For me I just started to take a lot of writing classes—I took screenwriting classes and I took fiction writing classes and I took journalism classes I took all these classes at night because I was in advertising working as a copywriter/creative director during the day writing ad copy. And I just began to say, what else can I write? Obviously I know how to write but what else should I be writing? What should I be using my writing skills for? And for me it was a huge redirect. And I started writing articles about advertising first, because you have to get some credentials to be that kind of a writer, and then I began thinking I’ve always wanted to write this book on job hunting maybe I should do that. So, I think sometimes something is so shocking that you just wake up and you’re like. Oh, my god! I have to change my course of life. That’s why I began writing that kind of a book that I began writing.
Jim Rembach: Well I’m glad you did because I really appreciate it. The subtitle of this book is 201 Smart Ways to Handle the Toughest People, and just like you said it’s a good reference book that I think we can learn a lot of things from and don’t have to necessarily try to absorb it all at one time. We talked about—there’s another book I’m sure that you’re working on, you’re doing the coaching, you’re doing different work with other people but when you start looking at all of those things, what’s one of your goals?
Vicky Oliver: Well, I think my big goal, I haven’t reached yet. I would like to have a radio show, that’s my goal. I’ve been on the radio about 500 times but I would like to have my own radio show. I don’t mean through a podcast necessarily. I mean like a real traditional radio show, that’s one of my goals. I haven’t gotten there yet.
Jim Rembach: Well, the Fast Leader legion wishes you the very best. Now before we move on let’s get a quick word from our sponsor:
An even better place to work is an easy-to-use solution that improves the empathy and emotional intelligence skills in everyone. It provides a continuous diagnostic on employee engagement and provides integrated activities that will improve the leadership and collaboration skills in everyone. This award winning solution is guaranteed to create motivated, productive and higher performing employees that have great working relationships with their colleagues and your customers. To learn more about an even better place to work visit beyondmorale.com/better.
Jim Rembach: Alright here we go Fast Leader legion it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Vicky, the Hump Day Hoedown is a part of our show where you give us good insights fast. So, I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us a robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Vicky Oliver, are you ready to hold down?
I hope so.
Jim Rembach: Alright. What do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today?
Vicky Oliver: Sometimes you just have to figure out the path. Like I want a radio show I don’t know how to do it so I have to figure out the path. I think if you can figure out the path you get further.
Jim Rembach: What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?
Vicky Oliver: I think one can learn a lot from Dale Carnegie, I know it’s old-fashioned but I went there and I took the Dale Carnegie course on public speaking, I think if you learn how to listen well and also be a good speaker you will go far.
Jim Rembach: What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?
Vicky Oliver: I’m extremely organized. In fact, sometimes I think I should write a book about organizational skills like how to be an organized person, I deal with lists I stick with my list I do everything on my list that’s it just write a list and do it.
Jim Rembach: What do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?
Vicky Oliver: I think just—this may sound vague—I have a depth of experience now because I have dealt with people and I’ve heard their problems and I’ve conquered some of my problems and so eventually I think you develop kind of a repository of wisdom. What I want to try to do is share my repository of wisdom with people.
Jim Rembach: What would be one book that you’d reckon to recommend to our listeners, it could be from any genre and of course we’re going to put a link to Bad Boss Crazy Co-Workers and other Office Idiots, on your show notes page as well.
Vicky Oliver: Okay, thank you. Since I’m talking about Carnegie I would say, How to Win Friends and Influence People. I think Dale Carnegie wrote that in 1933, if I’m not mistaken, and I still think it’s very cogent, pertinent advice. Another book I would recommend which we were talking about earlier is the book, Emotional Intelligence, I think those two volumes are fantastic.
Jim Rembach: Okay, Fast Leader listeners you could find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to fastleader.net/Vicky Oliver. Okay, Vicky, this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25. And you’ve been given the opportunity to take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you but you can’t take everything back you can only choose one. So, what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?
Vicky Oliver: I’d say ay that sometimes you do actually have to say to yourself, take a risk. I know that when I was in college I wanted to write self-help books the kind of books I write now but I didn’t know how to do it how to begin. And if I had started then I’d have more in my library that I’d written now.
Jim Rembach: Vicky it was an honor to spend time with you today can you please share the Fast Leader legion how they can connect with you?
Vicky Oliver: Okay, thank you for having me I really appreciate it. You can reach me at email@example.com
Jim Rembach: Vicky Oliver, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom the Fast Lead Legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump.
Thank you for joining me on the Fast Leader show today. For recaps, links from every show special offers and access to download and subscribe, if you haven’t already, head on over the fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster.
END OF AUDIO