Wednesday, February 28, 2018

You're Always Being Watched

Years ago I was volunteering at a community fun fair, which is another way of saying that kids were running around juiced on too much soda and candy, and parents were paying $10 for a hot dog. All of it was in good fun since it was aimed to raise money for a local community project.

I worked alongside a 13-year-old boy, who never said "no" to anything I requested. He bused gross picnic tables. He took the trash to a giant dumpster. He fixed the soda dispenser when it got stuck. He served hot dogs when I started talking to a friend and fell behind.

In that hot dog line that day was the owner of a local restaurant. He watched this 13-year-old boy, and when the line moved forward and he was standing in front of the boy, he asked "How old are you?"

"13," the boy responded.

"When you are 16, you come and see me and I will give you a job," the man said.

Three years later, the boy -- now 16 -- showed up at the restaurant.

"Do you remember me? You said you'd give me a job when I turned 16?" the boy said to the restaurant owner.

"Yes, I remember you. I watched how hard you worked, and I knew that I wanted you to work for me. Too many people come in here and want a job but aren't willing to work," he said. "When can you start?"

Years later, that young boy is now an executive in sales. He said he built his career based on that first job. His resume showed that he took on some dirty jobs, but kept building his skills and responsibilities for various employers as he worked his way through school.

I use this as an example of how important it is to always be aware that someone is watching how you work. The office manager who one day builds a successful software company is going to remember that you were a hard worker and hire you away from your current job at three times your salary.

The boss who watches you at the office barbecue will notice that you didn't know the word "quit" when it came to a game of softball. Maybe you couldn't hit the broadside of a barn, but he took notice that you hung in there and didn't give up.

You may feel like you're on your best behavior when you're at your workplace, but don't think you're not being watched -- through your social media posts, at offsite events -- to see if you've got what it takes to make key people want to invest in you.

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