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Caviar Dreams On An Instant Noodles Budget (Or Why It's Important To Learn The Art Of The Hustle) Starting at the beginning doesn't mean settling for less. It means you're laying the groundwork for a flourishing future.

By Ruwaida Abela Northen

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A wave of fresh-faced Gen Z-ers, armed with their diplomas and Instagram-worthy avocado toasts, are storming the stage that is the modern workforce.

As they dive into the job market with stars in their eyes and mega dreams of immediate success, one question begs to be asked: are they more interested in the perks, than in learning the art of the hustle?

We live in an era where reality television stars become presidents, and the words "influencer" and "entrepreneur" are often interchangeable- it's perhaps no surprise then that today's newbie employees seem to have an insatiable appetite for instant wins. They want to ride the express elevator all the way to the top, skipping the years of sweat and tears it takes to truly comprehend the intricacies of their chosen profession.

They want to be "the big boss" before they've even learned to answer the phone. I can't help but wonder if we can really blame them, given that they've been fed a steady diet of TikTok-ers who turned into entrepreneurs and tech prodigies, and became billionaires before they hit 30. This has led many to believe that a lustrous career should come with no effort. The truth, however, is far less glamorous. In their feverish quest for quick wins and instant stardom, are they missing out on the real meaning of success?

Let's talk about salaries, for starters. With their rose-colored glasses firmly in place, many young workers have developed an over-inflated sense of worth, demanding high-paying positions as soon as they get out of school. There's a certain naiveté to this mindset that's almost endearing, but as they trek into the job market with their heads held high (and their expectations even higher), their fantasies are quickly shattered by the harsh reality of entry-level salaries, and the fact that they actually need to put in the work. }Now, don't get me wrong. I'm all for seizing opportunities and pursuing dreams.

Still, there's something to be said for the wisdom that comes from experience gained at work, and this generation's adamant refusal to respect -and learn from- those who have blazed the trails before them is both disheartening and self-sabotaging. I suspect they genuinely believe that idea of "paying your dues" is antiquated, as archaic as the rotary phone, or dial-up internet. They laugh at the thought of working their way up from the bottom, convinced they're destined for greatness from day one. But what they fail to realize is that the road to success is paved with failures, and that sometimes, the most valuable lessons are learned from the mistakes we make along the way. I strongly suspect that this delusional mindset results from the "participation trophy" culture, where everyone is a winner, and no one has to work hard to achieve greatness.

The reality television-fueled myth of instant success has been immersed into their psyche, creating a generation with a distorted sense of entitlement. It's as if they expect their lives to be an Instagram Reel of glitzy parties, red carpets, and truffle burrata, with little regard for the blood, sweat, and tears that must go into crafting those seemingly effortless moments. We must remember that behind every success story lies years of commitment, diligence, and the maturity to embrace both failure and triumph alike. Starting at the beginning doesn't mean settling for less. It means you're laying the groundwork for a flourishing future.

Related: Time For A Zig (Or Zag): Four Signs A Pivot Might Be Needed To Keep Your Entrepreneurial Dream Alive

We must remember every accomplished person started somewhere.

Oprah Winfrey was a local news anchor before she became the queen of talk shows. J.K. Rowling was a struggling single mother before she wrote the Harry Potter books. And Steve Jobs started Apple in his parent's garage.

The corporate world is not a unicorn field of dreams, and the sooner young professionals accept this reality, the better equipped they will be to thrive in a cutthroat environment. No one starts at the top; we have had to learn, adapt, and grow through trial and error, facing challenges and setbacks along the way. It is in overcoming these obstacles that we gain the experience, skills, and resilience needed to ascend the corporate ladder.

While it is crucial to have big dreams and even bigger ambitions, it is equally important to set realistic expectations while working hard and persevering against the odds. It is very much like trying to hail a taxi in the Dubai World Trade Centre neighborhood when GITEX is being staged at that location- one must remain committed to the task at hand, and not give up on reaching their final destination.

Let us also talk about the elephant in the room: salaries. While it's endearing to believe that one can just walk straight into a cushy job with fabulous perks, the reality is that our young protagonists might be biting off more avocado toast than they can chew. But it's not just about the money. It seems that these aspiring trailblazers have also adopted a rather cavalier attitude towards experience, brushing off the wisdom of their seasoned colleagues like fluff on a Chanel jacket.

It's as if the very idea of "paying your dues" has become an antiquated punchline in the sitcom of their professional lives. It's as if these young workers believe that they already know everything there is to know. and that the wisdom of those who have walked the path before them is irrelevant.

Alas, they must come off their grass-fed horses, and embrace the trials and tribulations of the journey. It's time to learn from those who have come before, to respect their experience, and to understand that true success is earned, not handed to us on a silver platter. They should think of their careers like a perfect hand-stitched Birkin– it takes time, attention to detail, and a lot of hard work to create a masterpiece.

Real success begins with the eagerness to learn, hustle, and grow- with a side of organic avocado toast, of course.

Related: How Self-Leadership Can Help Move The Needle Forward On Your Vision And Goals

Ruwaida Abela Northen

Founder and CEO, JRN Consultancy

Ruwaida Abela Northen is the founder and CEO of JRN Consultancy

Hailing from the sun-kissed shores of Tripoli, Libya, Ruwaida waltzed into the world of luxury hospitality with the poise of a debutante. At the tender age of 18, she embarked on a career that would carry her across the continents, from the bustling bazaars of Asia to the ancient ruins of Europe and the sandy dunes of the Middle East. With over two decades of experience tucked under her belt, Ruwaida has become a veritable virtuoso in the realms of consumer marketing, corporate communications, and high-impact campaigns, not to mention her finesse in public and media relations. A polyglot, she speaks English, Arabic, and Maltese fluently, and dabbles in Turkish as well.

Ruwaida's odyssey began with the Corinthia Group in Libya, then she hopped over to Malta with Starwood, and further jetted to Bahrain with the Ritz-Carlton. From there, it was off to Qatar, where she worked her magic with Shangri-La Group. Climbing the corporate ladder with agility and determination, Ruwaida ultimately ascended to the role of Vice President for PR and Corporate Communications overseeing the Middle East, India, Indian Ocean, Europe and the Americas, shattering glass ceilings as the first Arab woman to hold such a position in the company's history.  

In 2021, Ruwaida decided to chart her own course, establishing JRN Consultancy, a boutique agency specializing in luxury lifestyle, travel, and hospitality. With its headquarters nestled in the glitzy skyline of Dubai and representation in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, JRN embodies the spirit of a "journey." A fierce advocate for female empowerment, Ruwaida has built an all-women team, who, under her guidance, are conquering the world one luxury experience at a time. Collaborating with the crème de la crème of international brands, Ruwaida balances her professional life as a wife, mother of four, and author, frequently contributing her insights to business and lifestyle publications such as Hia, Sayidaty, Arabian Business and Entrepreneur, as well as by being a regular guest speaker at many conferences across the region. 

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