My career spans 40 years, but I actually started working at about 10 years old, cutting lawns in our Willowick neighborhood, followed by a Cleveland Press newspaper route and, eventually, fibbing about my age and working at McDonald’s at the tender age of 14. Then came college and summer jobs at the City of Willowick Parks and Recreation. I landed my first “real job” at KPMG following graduation from the University of Dayton. Every job I had in the past 51 years taught me many lessons about work, people, business and leadership.
As I look back, let me share with you my top 10 lessons:
The irony is that if you lead, you always put yourself last.
Managing people is not the same as leading people.
Always strive to only hire top performers.
Always prioritize your employees and their families over profits.
You need to Know, Believe and Love what you’re doing to be truly successful.
Hoping that things will get better is a horrible strategy.
Taking risks is a blast.
ASK Your employees how to grow your business before asking consultants.
Leave things better than how you found them.
Always lead from the heart and not from your head.
Those are my top 10, but I’ve acquired a collection of additional thoughts and lessons learned. Perhaps one or two of these might resonate with you:
Share and discuss financial statements with your employees every month.
Be prepared for a new employee’s first day on the job.
Everyone at work can be a leader.
Every employee should be an ambassador for your company.
Employ at least one intern a year.
Respect is the foundation of a great workplace for top performers.
Every employee is responsible for creating and sustaining a great workplace.
Most people dislike performance reviews.
Lawyers are great when they are on your side.
You can tell a lot about a company by the cleanliness of its restrooms and kitchens.
“We have always done it this way” is a sad excuse for not trying something new.
“You can’t do that” motivates innovators.
“Thank you” costs nothing and should be given out freely.
Always accept a resignation.
Salary negotiation never results in a “win-win” scenario.
Return everyone’s phone calls within 24 hours.
Handwritten notes of appreciation stand out, especially in this era of social media.
There are plenty of people who are sick, scared, stressed or in a tough life situation who would love your “bad day” at work — it is nothing compared to what they are facing. Be grateful for the opportunity you have today.
Always ask a consultant how they know their recommendations really work. Ask them if they ever implemented their recommendation as a practitioner versus a consultant. Remember that great ideas are ones that actually work.
There are no history books written about people doing average things.
The best way to give back to the community is to raise great kids.
Everyone at work deserves equal respect, regardless of pay, tenure or title.
Discover your “Why Not?” Figure out what is holding you back from living a full life and decide whether you want to break through the barrier.
Wellness programs work.
Be genuinely happy for others’ successes.
Hang out with people who make you a better person.
Social media is not social. It’s just media.
Before complaining about something at work, figure out a solution on how to fix the problem.
And last but not least: One day will be your last day at work. Treat today like that day.
Pat Perry is the former ERC president, author of two books (patperrybook.com), keynote presenter, college instructor and business adviser.