Nearly two years since I was his employee, I still look forward to going home and visiting the old stomping grounds to say hello to the staff and chat with my former boss. The place is like a time warp instantly bringing me back to those careless summer days and crazy summer nights when all that mattered was good friends, good money, and cheap booze.
So my heart broke a little when he informed me that he’s a different man now and so is the business. “Things are just different now,” he said to me this past November. “I’m getting older and I’m not as close with the staff,” he said reluctantly. This is the man who could out-party all of his 20-something staff and still get up and open up shop the next morning. Frozen with disbelief, I let him go on.
“I don’t go out and party like I used to and business is insane so I stay busy.” I understood, of course. A married man with two growing children, two-time business owner, and revered community member who recently lost his beloved mother is bound to take a different perspective on life.
My friend, your eventful past is not to be forgotten and your successful future is to be anticipated. Here’s to you, bossman, because you were the best boss I’ve ever had.
Most people look back on their younger days and shudder at the thought of waiting on tables filled with hungry and sometimes cranky patrons. Not this gal. I dream of those days when my coworkers were my best friends and when my boss was someone I could talk to about anything. Now I find myself desperately censoring my answer to “Did you do anything fun this weekend?”
This boss is a restaurant owner; a leave-home-early-come-home-late restaurant owner who pours his heart and soul into this place and easily made it the best job I’ve ever had. And here’s why:
It was no secret to him that recognizing employees for a job well done could make a significant impact on the morale of the team. After a successful, busy night of serving, he’d surprise us with chicken wings or come through the kitchen like he was in a high five tunnel with his contagious grin and tell us all what an excellent night we had. Those small things were incredibly rewarding and kept us excited for the next shift to do it all over again. We knew he was proud and appreciative of our time and effort and that made it worth every second. Free t-shirts when we sold a certain amount? Hell yeah!
On the other hand, he was well aware of our mistakes and was quick to hold people accountable. To me, this was essential because there’s nothing worse than watching someone get by on doing the bare minimum. He wanted everyone’s participation and had rules in place that helped to ensure full team participation in all areas. When someone failed to do their part, oh it was going down. So you better check off your name by the “Bathrooms” box in the clean-up chart.
The restaurant business requires pristine customer service in order to build a brand, develop a customer base, and make a profit. He knew this. But he also knew that the customer was not always right (cue the shocked look on all business professionals’ faces). It’s true! Customers can be awful like the time that lady stabbed me in the back with her plate because her shrimp wasn’t fried. I’m sorry, honey, this isn’t Long John Silver’s. Anyway, when it came down to making some tough decisions, he always had our backs. Get it? He trusted his team and had faith in us and that always meant a lot.
Okay, this isn’t a necessity in a boss. Consider it a perk of working for him. He was a blast to work with and for. He played music the staff wanted to listen to, he threw us company get-togethers, and did what he could to make the work day an eventful one. And when I got a little too drunk at the summer party and acquired a ride home, he greeted me the next day with a snicker and a simple, “how ya feelin’ kid?”
So while you feel like times are changing, and maybe you aren’t as wild as you once were, I want you to know that your unconventional leadership style, one that I will try to mimic someday, is one that I will forever appreciate, that and your endless amount of visor hats.
Cheers to you!
Many of us read blog after blog after blog without knowing the expertise or personal background of the authors. I decided to open my book just a little bit more! Feel free to ask more questions!
What is the best job you ever had?
Server! During summer breaks as a college student I worked at this small mom-and-pop seafood restaurant built from the ground up by my boss and his wife. Their son, my manager, was an excellent leader who really knew how to brand the restaurant and make it a great experience for the employees and the patrons. Those were awesome summers full of great food, cheap beer, and lots of laughs!
What is your aim for this year?
That’s easy! Become a better blogger! I realize my blog seems a bit scattered in topic so I really want to zero in on a few major ideas and develop my thoughts on those while also developing and engaging with my audience.
What’s the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done?
When a group of my friends decided to rent a beach house in North Carolina for a week, I was devastated to find out the week they reserved was the week AFTER my spring break from college. Spontaneity got the best of me and I skipped a week of classes and work to hang out by the beach in an enormous house with awesome people. I didn’t miss much.
Who in your family are you most like?
I am my father’s daughter. Just like him, I am a people-person, I love telling stories and am very money conscious. We also share our loud laugh and inner control freak. He is my best friend, my biggest fan and an all-around great person.
How did you rebel as a child?
My rebellious attitude toward my mother began at an early age when I used to slam my door in order to make a statement. As a teenager, I used to sneak out just to hang out with my friends who were allowed to stay out later than I was. We never did anything mischievous, it was enough of an adrenaline rush just to have made it out without getting caught! Those days are over and my mom and I are closer than ever.
Which was the last restaurant you went to?
Pizza Hut! Pepperoni pan pizza is the usual!
What’s something that can always make you feel better?
This is an easy one. Cozy pajamas, Bridget Jones’s Diary, and hot vegetable soup!
Noodles, cheese, sauce, and meat. How hard could it be? Extremely. Lasagna is no easy dinner to master. In the past it has been difficult to produce quality lasagna that isn’t too cheesy or noodles that aren’t over- or undercooked. Not to mention, I’m not a huge melted cheese fan so making it enjoyable for Vince, who loves cheese, and tolerable for me will be a challenge. Any suggestions? Any good recipes out there?
Cheesecake is just heavenly and it goes as a great dessert with almost any meal. While this dessert is one I’ve never tried before, I really want to be able to bake a killer cheesecake that I can bring as a dish to parties. It’s great with raspberries, strawberries, chocolate, everything! Do you have any tips for my first attempt?
Mild, spicy, hot, vegetarian…the list of varieties goes on. I’m a huge fan of spicy food but I’d love to be able to make a chili that satisfies my taste for fire but also isn’t too much for my milder friends and family. In tasting other chili recipes, I prefer those that have more of a gumbo feel to them – that is, more than just beans and beef.
Its that time of year for some good home cooking! That kind of food that puts you in a food coma immediately. Back in high school, I made homemade stuffing in an Introduction to Foods class. It was perfect! But growing up I always had boxed stuffing for dinner. However, after trying real homemade stuffing, the boxed stuffing has never stood a chance against it.
Asian Stir Fry
Meals like stir fry are always fun because they give the chef an opportunity to get creative. So what’s the problem, you ask? I have yet to learn what types of ingredients go well together, especially with an asian stir fry. I like spicy asian things, not so much the sweet stuff. Do you know of a good asian stir fry recipe?
As these words appear on your screen, they were at one time pouring out of my fingers quickly and with skill onto a keyboard. After years of rigorous typing courses beginning at age 11 and ending around age 15, typing is something I’ve become an expert at. It is also something I enjoy.
So when I recently found out that many kids in school today are completely bypassing this necessary training, I was appalled. An 11-year-old close family friend revealed to me that he’s never taken a typing course but is required to write papers and even do homework assignments online.
How do you type? I asked
I just look for the letters I need, he responded
After I told him that I could easily type an entire paper without looking at the keyboard, he was amazed. This skill is absolutely necessary in today’s tech-driven world but young students are being robbed of the proper training.
“Touch typing allows us to write without thinking about how we are writing, freeing us to focus on what we are writing, on our ideas. “
Educators and their leaders make an assumption about today’s society and the abilities of our students. The assumption, her article says, is that kids already know how to type. Sure text messaging and touch screen tablets could be considered typing. But is a 140-character tweet really TYPING or simply jotting? Brevity has become an increasingly hot commodity on the internet and in normal person-to-person contact but yet our standardized tests and colleges require essays and speeches more than 500 words long.
A huge and disappointing gap exists between the two expectations of today’s children. Long essays can seem overwhelming to a student who 1) Can’t type as quickly as he thinks and 2) Can’t expand on thoughts and ideas. It seems technology has demanding needs – brevity, convenience, immediacy – while the education world tries to keep up in order to engage students but loses essential training in order to do so.
Needless to say, typing isn’t the only skill being left behind. But the question is really how can we revamp our education system in order to properly train our students for success? How can we incorporate seemingly outdated needs into technology-friendly lesson plans? It isn’t about numbers. It is about preparation for success. We can leave no room for assumptions.
Courtney O’Connell, a rising leader on the topic of innovation in education, and a friend of mine, offers an interesting perspective that actually encourages change in the industry to adapt to our changing world. Check it out:
Of course, I don’t know the right answer to the questions I have posed…it is just my two cents.
What are your thoughts? Am I being too traditional? Let’s chat!
For all of you soon-to-be grads out there, please read carefully! While my personal situation may be very different, it is so important to be evaluative of yourself and your circumstances in order to properly succeed and also prepare for your future. And for you seasoned employees giggling at my entry-level naivete…enjoy!
1. I don’t know it all
•It occured to me on my first day that I didn’t know squat. When I was a senior in college there was a sense of confidence and security. But college can be a bubble; a false sense of reality. Transitioning into a corporate setting was a smack in the face reminding me, “you’re just getting started, kid!” Instead of sulking about being the newb, I asked questions about computer programs I’d never used, acronyms that didn’t sound familiar and the hierarchical organizational structure that seemed so foreign to me.
•Advice → Don’t be too shy to ask questions. Accept the bountiful knowledge your superiors have, even if they don’t know how to copy/paste on Word.
2. I have a lot to offer
•Although I don’t know it all, I know something. Because of the era in which I grew up, I have knowledge that seems brilliant to some of my coworkers. Although I was never boastful about my skills, I made sure they were known at the right time. If a coworker was struggling with a spreadsheet, I casually offered advice or help. Soon, when someone was having trouble with Microsoft Office, I was the go-to gal. Things I never thought would set me apart, really benefited me here.
•Advice → Make sure your confidence is not cockiness. No one wants help from the know-it-all. After all, they could Google it. Take pride in the skills you have, even if they seem like second nature to you.
3. Everyone wastes time at work
•Spending eight or more hours in front of a computer can be hard on the eyes, painful on the tush, and bad for the brain! Once the excitement of a new job died down, I found myself thinking about other things while at work – laundry, bills, weekend plans, that new movie coming out. I overheard recreational conversations, noticed people huddling around the copier, and could almost hear the Candy Crush Saga theme on phones. But the productivity wasn’t down. In fact, we were doing quite well. Everyone needs a little bit of an outlet. Read up on the interesting history of the 8-hour work day!
•Advide → Don’t WASTE time. Use that extra five minutes before beginning a task to make a list of groceries or to make dinner plans. Be productive!
4. Drama did not end in high school
•The workplace just might have even more drama than high school did. Can you believe it? With all the different personalities coming from different educational backgrounds, drama is bound to work its way in and infect the office.
•Advice → Remain neutral. Try not to get involved. Try not to contribute to drama.
•I’m not exactly the most chipper person around but I do smile often, even when I’m having an off day. I realized smiling helps when a coworker asked me “Did you finish that contact list?” I replied, “Not yet but I’m almost done.” His silence was unnerving…but he followed with, “I’ll let you get away with it this once because you’re the only person who smiles at everyone in the hallway.”
•Advice → Smile…even when it hurts. A smile says a lot about your attitude as an employee, a coworker, a subordinate, a leader. You can also get a raise for it!