I was headed to Las Vegas with my buddy AJ and his son Dillon. I had known AJ since college, and I remember Dillon since he was a little kid. I can’t believe how time flies. When Dillon was about 3 years old, I would hold him under his arms, launch him 4 feet in the air and catch him on the landing. We called it the Superman.
Dillon would giggle and demand to be launched in the air again. AJ would laugh. His mother would look on in horror and tell me to stop.
Fast forward 15 years and I’m in the airport with Dillon and AJ. Dillon is now 3 days over 18 and this is his first trip to a casino. In California, the legal minimum age is 18 and we were going to do a Vegas to California run. The Native American casinos in San Bernardino County, California are not far from Vegas, about 4 hours.
Dillon decided that college wasn’t for him, but he wanted to be financially successful. He knew that I traveled a lot, gambled when I wanted to, lived in a nice house, I have some really cool toys (at the risk of offending some readers, I have a large collection of very expensive and rare civilian own-able transferable machine guns).
Most importantly, I own my own businesses. He wanted the same freedom for himself. He asked me the question that many young people ask when they have ambition in life, but don’t know where to go or what to do, ‘how do I get there, too?’
This is a question I receive from readers. So when Dillon asked this question, I started this article while we were en route to our destination.
My answer is always, ‘be good at whatever you do.’
When it comes to answering questions about self improvement, personal finances, or physical fitness, I hate platitudes that don’t include a step by step guide. A platitude without a reference guide is like telling someone that the best way to bake bread is ‘with love’. Thanks, but I still need the damn recipe.
‘So, Dillon, where are you working at nowadays?’, I asked.
‘Next week, I start at a local McDonald’s’, replied Dillon.
This is my step by step guide. I don’t care what the job might entail, my philosophy is always the same: be good at whatever you do.
No matter what his job or his duties, I told Dillon that he was to do his job well. If his first job was to mop the floor, he was to mop the floor like how a master would mop the floor.
No matter his job, find out how to do it well. If they assigned him to something other than mopping the floor (a common first day assignment), then find a private spot and find a YouTube video on how to do the assignment well.
I found this on YouTube…
Be sure that your boss doesn’t think you’re surfing the internet at work, so look it up in private or tell them what you’re researching.
Be good at whatever you do, and try to become better than everyone else, even if it’s the most menial task (be aware that somethings you think are menial are not really menial and have significant importance to a business’ success: why clean bathrooms are important to guests.)
By doing the small things well, you’ll learn to do the big things well.
In my years of hiring and firing people, one thing I’ve noticed is that valuable employees always pay attention to the smallest details. In 17 years of being a boss, I’ve noticed that if someone is bad at a small project, then they’ll be bad at a larger project. If they’re sloppy and don’t care about a small assignments, they surely wreck a large assignment. It comes down to having pride in their work.
So I told Dillon that if you’re good at mopping the floor and cleaning the bathrooms, eventually the supervisor will notice and he’ll get better assignments, such as being the cook. When he’s the cook, be sure his food is good, and for the love of all things holy, please stop sending out burgers with bread that is not toasted. A few local McDonald’s are still doing that, and it’s a sin. That was a personal rant.
Then when he’s a cashier, he should learn to be the best cashier ever by being freindly and smiling.
Smile until your face hurts because smiling is the one simple trick to being a good cashier or customer service rep. Customers will love it! And if management ever sends in a secret shopper, they’ll love it, too and want to recognize or promote you!
Then when he’s a team leader, he should learn to be the best team leader ever by not just leading his team, but inspiring his team members to be the best people under him.
You want to know the one simple trick to being a good team leader? Show up first, and leave last.
As a boss, I know quite a few tricks because I’ve seen these tricks in action. A mediocre team leader can hide his or her deficiencies and appear to be better than they are by showing up first and leaving last. I would postulate that someone who is not a good team leader, even knowing this trick, would be unable to follow this trick for very long.
He’ll be noticed and then when he inevitably becomes a manager, he should become the best manger ever by not just telling people what to do, but by making his people better. The best managers inspire people.
You know a simple trick to impressing the owner and inspiring your subordinates? Make sure everyone clocks in on time and make sure everyone smiles! There’s that smiling trick again. It’s really hard to smile and be in a bad mood. Smiling is contagious.
I told Dillon that when he acquires the experience and knowledge to run a fast food franchise operation, I’ll partner with him. I’ll be the seed money, and he can be the sweat equity, and we’ll open apply for something like this…
or something like this…
Then we will own 2, 3, 4, and 5 and so on. Then he can be the boss and be on the road, too, going from location to location, and stopping by the nearby casinos. That’s the plan, at least.
But it all starts with mopping that floor, like it’s the most important thing you ever did.
Just be good at whatever you do, and someone will notice. Heck, I want this to happen because I want to be the seed money. I’ve always wanted to own a fleet of McDonalds or Popeye’s.
I know Dillon can do this because one night, I taught Dillon how to play blackjack using basic strategy. The kid is smart. He practically memorized a chart and knows every play and every correct decision after a few hours. Sorry, Lauren, but Dillon’s faster and sharper. He’s a good kid. He’s sharp as a tack. This kid has promise.
In a few hours, we’re going to see how disciplined he is at the table. I know the kid, and I have a strong sense of how he’ll perform.
I have a feeling that in a few years, Dillon and I are going to be business partners.
I received a few messages from readers stating that it’s no guarantee because some bosses are just unappreciative and ungrateful.
That’s sadly very true. However, just like at the tables, the only thing that we can do is set ourselves up for success and tilt the odds in our favor. Life is a big gamble, and there are no guarantees in life.