As we drove to the Wal-Mart yesterday to get him some steel-toe boots and Dickies work pants, we talked about how to handle it. He wanted my advice on how to be successful. I’ll share what I shared with him and it’s based on my observations at client companies I work with.

  1. Don’t be on time. Be early. In a world where mediocrity has become the norm, punctuality has suffered. Want to make a good impression? Be ready to go at start time, not running in half-prepared.
  2. Do your job completely, then find something else to do.  You’re paid by the hour so work for the full hour. Looking for something more to do will show your boss that you’re a hard worker.
  3. Don’t complain. It’s called work for a reason. Get your job done and keep your mouth shut. If you are being treated legitimately unfairly, use the proper channels to address it. Whining won’t help.
  4. Work like an owner, not an employee. If you owned a business, you wouldn’t tolerate slackers and malcontents. If you act like an owner, you’ll keep profitability in mind and make the most of each moment.
  5. Measure your productivity against the standard, not the other workers. Generally speaking, what I find is that most workers do the bare minimum required and hope for the highest salary possible. They justify it by saying “well at least I work harder than Joe does,” or “Sally comes in late every day, I just come in late every now and then.” Be the high standard rather than conform to the expected standard.

I’ll find out later how his first day went. I hope it was a good one and that he’ll learn from his experiences this summer before heading back to The Ohio State University in August. Maybe someday he’ll have this same conversation with his kid.