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.

California casinos are not allowed to use dice or balls. This is California card roulette.

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.

The Guide

‘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.

First dust the floor, then mop in figure 8 pattern, then dry the floor and clean up.

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…

Own a Popeye’s Fried Chicken; requires five years of experience in food operations.

or something like this…

Own a McDonald’s.

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.

ADDENDUM:

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in: Travel, Uncategorized

5 thoughts on “Be Good at Whatever You Do”

  • All terrific advice. I would expand on that a little bit.

    My grandfather imparted his philosophy. There are two requirements for any career you choose to follow, no matter what that career is (I won’t name bottom end and top end jobs; offending someone will cause one to miss the point). Anyway, his two requirements were the following:

    1 – You must absolutely love what you do.

    2 – You must strive to be the absolute best one at doing it.

    I like to think that I am very good at what I do 🙂 The answer to “do I love what I do?” question would depend on what day you ask me. 🙂

    Anyway, I wish Dillon well. He has the advantage of having a very good mentor in you.

    • RoadGambler says:

      Thanks for you input John. I very much agree with everything you said.

      It does help very much to be in love with what you do. If you don’t love what you do, it becomes very difficult to master the activity, simply due to lack of motivation. Sometimes, though, the process of mastering a skill makes one fall in love with what they do. I would say that love a first sight isn’t necessary, but eventual love of the calling is necessary at some point.

      When Lauren and I pass through Austin, Texas, we stop by this pizza place called Little Deli. This place makes delicious pizza, some of the best I’ve ever had outside of NY. I once had a a 30 minute conversation with the owner on the topic of making pizza dough. Not pizza, just dough. He was so impassioned and knowledgeable about something so mundane and as the flour and the dough. You can see the passion and attention-to-detail carries over into the rest of his pizza, how he trains his staff, and how he operates.

      I see the same passion, dedication, and love from quite a few successful business owners.

      On a side note, I once asked him to let me franchise his restaurant and he nicely just pretended not to hear the request. Lol.

  • Kevin Hopkinson says:

    This is great advice to the younger generation just starting out in the real world.
    everything you mentioned In this article summed up everything i was told from day one in the work force and in life. be the best that you can be, someone will notice and great things will come to you.
    case in point my mother fell into hard times and I stopped everything to help her my brother and my sisters (aviation school, my social life and my general hobbies) just to make sure they were ok.
    I was 22-23 at the time so those are golden years to be out and to have fun in your early twenties. but I had a responsibility to help out since I was the oldest In the family. So I took up two and a half jobs working sixteen hours a day for months just to rent a house big enough to house my brother and sisters. got the house and everything was getting better at the time. and finally my mother found another job to get her back on her feet.
    my mother met our new neighbors and one of them heard that I was working two jobs at the time and said that his company was hiring. went online filled out the application and two weeks later I was hired making great money with all the benefits you can think of.
    everything you mentioned in your article, “be the best at what ever you do” landed me a great job because someone noticed that I was working hard. six years later I’m a lead machine operator for my company I have a three year old son with my beautiful girlfriend and looking at buying my first home this time next year.

  • Mark Chilcoat says:

    Really enjoyed this article and felt compelled to respond with a saying I have:

    How you do anything is how you do everything.

    Also love what Lou Holtz used to impart:

    1. Do the right thing
    2. Do your best.
    3. Treat others the way you want to be treated.

    Keep up the great articles RG!

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