How working with my Dad taught me the value of hard work and perseverance in achieving success!
I was about 7 or 8 years old when I began to understand the value that persistence coupled with a strong work ethic would have on my life. I learned that ultimately utilizing both in my daily walk would result in a successful life. I spent the summers with my father, and that summer was the first time I became interested in going to work. Who better to work for, than my father? He took my request to work with him very seriously, and I remember the evening that he came home with a few ledgers, file folders, and the money bag with the deposits from the day's sales, for me to begin working with him. I was excited. Having already been taught in school how to add money, I was finally going to be able to use it, while being able to spend time with my dad.
He took out a clean sheet of paper and told me to write out the denominations, while he removed a list from one of the file folders he had placed on the table. After writing them down and showing it to him $1 X, $2 X, $5 X, $10 X, $20 X, $100 X, 1c X, 10c X, etc., he smiled in acknowledgement and showed me the sheet he had pulled out of the folder. It was a list that let me know what he had intended to complete that night, and the goals he had set for the week. I was ready. My excitement was building. We went about the business of counting out the money from the days sales, documenting it on the paper where I was asked to write the denominations, then placing rubber bands on each individual stack, then reflecting it on the deposit slip for the bank, and totaling it all up. After all that was done, and the money returned to the money bag, he opened up the ledger and as my eyes opened wide he laughed and started to explain to me the purpose of each column. He then explained to me the purpose of each the folders he had brought home.
“I learned organization at the business level, the purpose of checks and balances. I learned how through diligence and patience, I could be successful in my life and career. but even more importantly, the importance of goal setting and hard work in order to be successful in my life.”
My father was very patient about teaching me every aspect of his business. He let me know that I was going to go with him to his factory that week and that thought had me skipping on air. I greatly respected and admired my father, and I knew he was a very hard worker, well respected by his colleagues, employees, and customers alike. I was going to be able to see him in his element, and I was looking forward to it. The next day as we pulled up to the factory and the security guard opened the gates, I was overcome with a great deal of pride. I remember when my Dad started to build the factory, transforming his grandmother's former home into a bakery and juice factory. I was now going to be able to see that factory at work, while learning my Dad and learning from my Dad.
At 7 am in the morning, there was a scurrying of bodies filling the delivery vans with fresh baked goods and/or crates of juices, ready for their day's sales and deliveries. As my Dad parked his van, he sat watching all that was happening before our eyes. I looked over at him seeing his smile, and we both continued to watch for a few more minutes until someone walked over to him to discuss something related to what they were doing. He exited the vehicle and continued his conversation with the person who I later learned was the foreman. I sat for a few minutes, then exited the van myself. At first, I wanted to see what they had done with Great-Grandma's house, but I was not there to play or reminisce, I was there to work. I stood on the side, against the building, watching my father talk to his workers, going from one delivery van to the next as they were filled, checked, and then exited the factory. When he was done, he beckoned me to go with him into the office, stopping first at his van to collect his work from the night before.
His office had a few file cabinets, a desk, a chair behind the desk and two chairs in front, facing the desk, and a sofa against the wall. There were two doors by which you could enter or exit his office. That room used to be my great-grandmother's den. He placed the ledger and money bag on the desk, then placed the files in one of the drawers. He then walked through one of the doors and headed down to the area in the factory where all the baked goods were made. I followed him not wanting to hold on to his hand, but in awe of all I was seeing. As he entered the area, I saw the workers who were manning the mixers, the ovens, and the cutting and design tables on one side, and on the other side, the workers who were putting the already baked goods on shelves which had fans blowing gusts of air on them, as if in a wind storm. This is where I wanted to be.
I put my hand in my father's hand, and as he looked at me, I asked him if I could work there. He laughed and asked me if I was sure. I nodded in excitement. He let me know that he was going to be heading to the bank soon, and wanted to know if I would prefer going with him rather than being in that area of the factory. I wanted the full experience. I wanted to learn everything about what my father did, and going to the bank to deposit the previous day's sales was just one of those things. I also wanted to learn about the making of the products he sold through his factory. He understood. We left and went to the bank. We did not go to the bank and return to the factory right after as my Dad and I spent the day visiting some of his clients, and meeting new clients. Seeing my father's interactions with people on the street, inside the bank, and at his meetings helped teach me how to treat people in the world. He was genuine, honest and fair, and for many, that made a difference.
Although my first full day of work with my Dad did not give me the opportunity to work in the baked goods department or even in the juice making area, for that matter, it marked the beginning of many summers of working with my father, for which I was paid an allowance to do with as I pleased. My first and subsequent summers for the next nine years, working with my father, taught me the invaluable lesson of perseverance and the benefit of having a strong work ethic that would certainly benefit me throughout my entire life. I learned about how his office was run, how the machines in the factory worked, how to load and unload the delivery vans, quality control, but even more so, I learned more about my father and his business than I would have ever learned simply by asking him about his day. I learned organization at the business level, the purpose of checks and balances. I learned how through diligence and patience, I could be successful in my life and career. but even more importantly, the importance of goal setting and hard work in order to be successful in my life. The things that seemed very commonplace in my father's daily life of work, had so fascinated me, that they helped to define the person I have become.
Vince Lombardi said, " the difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will." If we truly have a desire to be successful in our life, we have to have a willingness to achieve that success through hard work and perseverance. This I learned from my summers working with my Dad, and I am the better for it!