Do you remember the first dollar you earned? Maybe you earned a monetary reward for making good grades? Perhaps you received payment for completing a household chore? Very early in life, we learn that income can be produced by completing a job. What other lessons can we glean from those early years? Let’s think back to your first real job…
My first job was in the role of a sales associate at a well known video game and computer software chain at the local mall. Many life lessons were to be had during my 5 year tenor at my first job. I started my “career” late in my senior year of high school and continued throughout my college years. Oddly enough my own mother was my manager. Now I know what you are thinking. You think because my mother was my boss I must have had it easy going. Let me tell you it was quite the opposite. My mother held me to the highest standard of all her employees. I learned very quickly that I was going to get an evil glare and the fifth degree if I arrived later than 10 minutes early to my shift. I also learned if you have time to lean, you have time to clean; the customer is always right (ahem); always volunteer for extra work when it is available (at least if you know what is good for you).
My mother, my manager – she was my greatest mentor not only in life but in my professional career. See my mother did not have a college degree. She got married to my dad at 18 and had me right before turning age 20. Other than the occasional odd jobs, she was a stay at home housewife for 14 years. She had a later start in her career than most of her peers. She had to work 2-3 times harder than everyone else around her to get noticed and compensate for the lack of experience and education, but the one thing she did better than anyone else was build relationships. She was friendly to everyone, learned the customer’s name, their kid’s names, their grandkid’s names, where they worked, etc. She paid special attention to what genre of games each customer liked. I must give her credit; she recognized trends in buying habits well before social media or computer programs did that work for us. Through her example, I learned that if you work hard, build lasting relationships and are passionate about your work, opportunities happen.
Working Hard – Leaders who work hard create teams who follow suit. Working hard gets you noticed. Define hard work? To me, it is being proactive. It’s seeing things that need to be done and getting it done strategically. It’s spending the extra time needed to complete a project, volunteering to help others, working extra shifts, etc.
Building relationships – This is the ground work of good business. Relationships with your peers, supervisors and customers are vital and each relationship ought to be nurtured. Every interaction should be personalized. My best tip = Listen more and Talk less!
Passionate about your work – Maybe you don’t love your current job… you should still be passionate about your work. The quality of work that you turn in is essential to getting ahead. I find that we tend to become more passionate when the task at hand plays to our strengths. Be sure to find ways to utilize your strengths so that a once undesirable task becomes something you are indeed passionate about!
Though my first job wasn’t exactly a lemonade stand, life lessons were learned that I still carry with me today. I hope that my current employer can see the same attributes and qualities that my first employer was able to instill in me then: work ethic, passion, a drive for change, and building relationships. By using these key ingredients, I was able to create my own path of success, even though I may have followed in my mom’s footsteps as today I am working in B2B Sales. Thanks Mom!
Meet our blog author, Dana Dooley from our Marion, Illinois location. “As part of the Business Development team I would love to learn more about your company, including your hiring and staffing needs.” When can we meet?