I got my first job when I was 14. My job was to wash out golf carts a few days a week at the local college-sponsored course. In exchange, I received free green fees and a locker to store my clubs. I didn’t get paid in cash for that job — I was actually too young for that by state law, I believe — but to a 14 year old who probably would have spent most of the money playing golf anyway, it was a heck of a deal.
At the end of the summer my mom and stepdad moved us to Florida and the next summer I came back to Ohio to stay with my dad. That summer my dad talked to a friend of his who painted houses and got me on his crew. I worked hard that summer. It was grueling, physical labor with very long hours. I’m sure my dad got me the job partly to show me what life would be like if I didn’t go to college.
But that wasn’t the only thing I learned. I also learned a little about working with people, in particular managing them. My boss, a friend to this day, worked us from early until late every day but at the end of every day, he never failed to say thank you as we each left for home and dinner. It wasn’t a complex gesture, just a simple one, but it always made me feel wanted and respected.
I try to do the same thing to this day.