As yet another Thanksgiving season wraps up, we find ourselves thinking about all the things we are thankful for in life. This year I, in particular, found myself reflecting on my childhood. As a kid, my parents fostered in me an important sense of responsibility and work ethic. I was encouraged to get a job as early as I could, resulting in a huge amount of life lessons learned early on.
I was fortunate to gain a lot of sales and customer service experience right out of the gate.
I remember walking into the famed "Paper Peddler" newspaper & magazine store in Avalon, NJ as a 10-year-old holding my Kohlers Bakery Cream Donut (trust me, I've had my fair share of donuts - these are simply the best) to see if I could get summer work as a Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper delivery boy.
To deliver the Inquirer, a worker was supposed to be 12 years old. I begged the store owner and told him I would do a great job. Seriously...the guy gave me the route. How or why he allowed me to do it - I don't know.
I still remember this though: I had 22 daily papers to deliver and 29 Sunday papers.
My mom would wake me up at 5 am and together we folded the papers, put rubber bands on them and stuffed them into the 2 rear side baskets of my grandmother's lavender 3-speed bike.
Here was my pay: $.10 per daily paper delivered, $.25 per Sunday paper delivered, plus any tips I earned when I collected weekly payments, in person, on Fridays.
It was clear that delivering papers for $2.20 per day was not going to get me very far. Even in 1987, even at 10 years old, I wanted more. So, to be sure I made the most out of the opportunity, I had to make my money on service.
Here's what I did: at each house, I would get off my Grandmom's bike and run the newspaper right to the top front doorstep. My goal was always to deliver the paper before 630am. Even though it was a simple thing I knew that delivering the paper to the top step mattered. Why? Well, every other newspaper guy threw the paper somewhere on the lawn, in the street, bushes, roof - wherever. When I delivered the newspaper, it was going to be done at the highest level of service possible. This would make the possibility of earning extra money a complete reality.
In addition, I went door to door and asked every homeowner on every block if they would like to have the newspaper delivered to their top step every morning by 630am. In several weeks, I grew my customer base to 80 daily papers and 125 Sundays. I couldn't believe it then and I still can't, really. How my mom and I had to deal with the boom in business is a whole 'nother story. For the work I did (with mom!) I became The Philadelphia Inquirer paperboy of the year. Who knew there was such a thing?
The point of this blog is to describe the mentality and work ethic I developed at a very young age which, throughout my life has served me well and has led to a lot of professional success. I think Warren, Walt, and Tom would agree.
Here are the 9 career transforming traits this paperboy developed at 10 years old:
1. Bounce up early
2. Prepare for the day
3. Always be on time
4. Have a great partner
5. Knock doors, win clients
6. Develop a competitive advantage
7. Develop expertise
8. Deliver first class service
9. Foster great relationships with clients which allow me to be accountable to them and allow them to trust and depend on me
Are you getting "top step" service from the people you're counting on to handle your best interests?
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