As Labor Day approaches, I reflected on my first job in Hennessey, Oklahoma. The employment opportunity came from my father, who ran the family dirt construction company. The Moery Company specialized in providing bulldozer, scraper and other earth moving services to OK oilfield locations and farmers. I was 13 and learned more than a few things.
Your only salary leverage is at the employment offer. Dad made the following “negotiation offer.” He proposed a foot race. $1 per hour if he won, $3.50 if I outpaced him. Being a spry teenager, there was “no way” Dad would beat me. Invincible, quick and confident, I toed the line. Fifty yards later, he finished well in front of me, actually running backwards the final ten yards.
Salary: $1/hour. Later in the summer, I thought for sure the low rate would increase. It never happened. You only have one time to negotiate. Don’t mess it up.
Most jobs take 10x more effort than you think. The daily task was to “keep the shop clean.” Easy, right? Sweep the shop in the morning, cruise in the afternoon. I didn’t consider the factors around me, including the fact I worked within the shadow of a grain elevator. Wheat dust fell and red dust whistled through the building so much I swept wheel barrows full of dirt of that place every day, all day. Every project takes more than you think to do it well. Be prepared.
A lot of life is showing up…early. Can you name a top performer who was the last person to show up or post for the daily tasks? It never, ever happens. I saw the best “hands” in our company show up every day, early and ready to go. It’s old fashioned and doesn’t change – even in a world of flex time and telecommuting.
It was fun thinking back to a pretty simple time. Some of your work values evolve from that very first job, no matter how low the salary or simple the task.
Enjoy your holiday and come back with vigor Tuesday.
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