Columbia College, Chicago - Business Management
Nicole Taffer doesn't have just one, but two, jobs we'd like to try on for size. As special projects director at Taffer Dynamics, a consulting firm for hospitality brands, she manages her and her husband Jon's office and oversees product sales and Jon's travels and calendar.
Her second job, though, is the one where she says the real fun happens. As market recon specialist for Spike TV's "Bar Rescue," a reality show about saving struggling bars hosted by Jon, Nicole gets to be a real spy! She goes inside a client's establishment, as well as the competition's, to get both the customer and employee perspective. She says the job makes her feel like a Bond girl who gets to dress up (or down, in some cases) to blend in with the crowd. She checks to see if employees are well-trained, knowledgeable about their jobs and the menu and happy in their place of work. She also finds out if the customers are regulars, how they feel about the aesthetics of the business and their thoughts on the food and drinks they're consuming.
When she's not working, Nicole enjoys traveling — anywhere, anytime; getting together with her girlfriends; and her schnauzer, Winston.
Be honest with yourself; you'll save a lot of time getting to the same result.
How did you discover your current job?
I didn't really "discover" my jobs as much as they discovered me. Many years ago I was traveling with Jon on a job and he asked if I would go in ahead of him, undercover, to see the ladies’ rooms, check out the kind of clientele and see if they were spending money and assess how the employees treated me, etc. That's how I became Jon's spy or "Market Recon Specialist.” The office gig began when I owned a small business. I was working from home, as well as in Jon's office, and I discovered how disappointed he was in the management of his company when he was away from his office. Sort of a "when the cat's away, the mice play" situation, and I felt compelled to take matters into my own hands.
What is your typical day like? What types of things do you do in your job?
My day begins and ends with making sure Jon is taken care of. If he is traveling, I always confirm his reservations and calendar to make sure he is prepared to travel safely and comfortably. Even if it's 3:30 in the morning, I don't go to sleep until he arrives in his hotel room. Then I get into the trenches (stole that from Jon J.) with usual office stuff like billing, preparing Jon's schedule, making sure our products are being shipped every day and following up with customers who have questions.
What is the most rewarding part of your job? The most challenging?
The most rewarding part of my job is that I know I'm contributing to the success of our family. I enjoy being there for my husband and making sure he is able to do his job every day without having to worry whether or not he has a good seat when he boards a plane for the fourth time that week.
What is the biggest personal sacrifice you have to make because of your job?
We all have to make sacrifices in life, so I don't think about what I'm missing. I think that having a job and a home -- and someone to share both with -- is really special. But I would like to get to a spa more often!
What is one lesson you've learned in your job that sticks with you?
Most people are nice. They just want to be heard and are eager to help. That makes my job easy in the office and out in the field.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge for women today, particularly females in your industry?
First, the late hours are not our friend. Second, the sexism. If you look at all the club owners and promoters -- they're mostly men. I don't know why that is, but it could explain why there are so many bars that need rescuing!
Who are your role models?
I don't really have a role model per se, but I do get my inspiration from hard-working people, whether they are wealthy and successful or just smart in the way they live their lives. My role models are the contributors.
What are some of the rules you live by?
Some of the rules I live by are:
-Be honest with yourself; you'll save a lot of time getting to the same result.
-Don't take anything or anyone for granted.
-"Go that extra mile." It's not just a clever phrase. The more you do today, the less you will have to do tomorrow.
What advice do you have for girls who want to be in your industry?
I encourage working in the hospitality industry. It builds self-esteem, teaches you how to be part of a team, and you can make a lot of cash in a short period of time!
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Hopefully on vacation.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I really love my life.