I’ve been turning “tough jobs” into fun since I was 12
“Business is my hobby” by Gary Vaynerchuk resonated with me 4 years ago when I first saw it.
I hustle. I’m unapologetic about it.
When I tell people how much joy I find in my work and so often the response is “well yeah now that you have a big successful company and people to help you run it, and you are financially independent, I bet it’s enjoyable.”
That is fair. So I dug deep and looked within and questioned myself — Am I only saying I love work and I love my job because I’m now at this point?
Here’s the secret — For every job I’ve had, paperboy to telemarketing to warehouse worker (3 years) to CEO, I tried to find joy in it or a game somewhere in there to turn the work into a way to compete, with someone or with myself.
I picked a few jobs I’ve had (I skipped 3 just to keep this article short) and how I turned them into games / challenges.
I had a paper route. This gave my mom an opportunity to teach me about money, customer service, etc. I wanted to get maximum tips and spend the least time doing it. So I learned how to “optimize” my route to get thing done fast but with integrity so I could get those big tips at Christmas. Also when it rained my mom never drove me around (for Sunday papers, the big heavy ones w/ all the inserts and coupons, she worked full time)…this is YOUR money she would say. Why should I have to work on my day off (sunday) so you can make money to spend on baseball cards? Noted mom & I hope to be this way with my kids, but it’s going to be hard.
(I will never forget the day she drove me b/c it snowed a foot on a sunday).
I loved connecting with my customers, I liked managing my books on who paid and who was past due, I enjoyed knowing that I could both optimize my route and maximize customer satisfaction at the same time, some how it gave me joy, I was 12 years old.
At age 13:
I was packing bloodborne pathogen kits in a warehouse in New Jersey, I found a way to turn it into a game, how many could I do in a day? Age 13, I wanted to be a high performer, better than the rest, and I think I did pretty well. I outlasted almost everyone else in that hot ass warehouse. This is the first time I realized that I got joy from lasting longer than others did, my best friend quit half way through. I finished.
This year I learned how to set up a “database” on my Packard Bell 386 to track my baseball cards, so I could manage their values and I played “games” where I sold them to people to maximize return.
At age 15:
I worked at an independent sneaker shop, I sold shoes to people, helped them try them on, I smelled feet ALL. DAMN. DAY.
I was working with adults for whom this was their livelihood, for me it was my high school spending money, how I bought hockey pads, cleats, and gas. But if you saw us working, you would have thought the opposite.
I loved working the closing shifts because every day for the owners to print out the daily sales by associate to see the “data” on how I did. Man those dot matrix printers were slow, I couldn’t wait to see that ink hit the sheet one line at a time watch my name come off and see how I did.
Most days I put a whooping on everyone. I wasn’t motivated by the money, was motivated to be a high performer, top “compete at the highest level” as Cory Henke would say, and I was only 15. I treated work like sports. You ain’t beating me, and when you do I’mma watch you, learn from you and add what you are doing to my style.
At age 19:
I worked in an amazon warehouse. Same thing, I found joy in speed, optimization, and quality. I was surrounded by people who complained… “this place sucks”, “it’s too hot”, “the food in the vending machines is stale”. I instead started challenging myself to speed up my times, optimize my route, and keep quality high. The same challenge I had 7 years earlier as a paper boy. I spent 2 years optimizing routes, figuring out ways to do things better.
When I say “I love my job” it’s because it fits what I like to do. It’s not about the “commercial success” Seer has had or financial independence … I loved the hustle, paperboy, to warehouse job, to telemarketing, to warehouse job, to Seer. Same shit.
Age 44 — The right work + the right people = motivation
Here are just 2 people who have been with me when we were single digit number of employees, I would be lying if I didn’t recognize that working with talented people is also tremendously important in me loving my job today, I get so much joy watching people @ Seer “win”. That I find that’s the difference in most of those jobs above it was on me to “win” — with Seer its different, the joy comes from helping others to win and I’m finding that is quite joyous :)
Today my motivation comes from both the work and the people I want to help win.
My motivation isn’t to get acquired or have an exit, it is to have a meaningful impact on the trajectory of my teammates lives and careers and in doing that I think we get to impact our industry and most importantly the lives of people in our community in a meaningful way, that just might continue to be “fun” for me.
I have the ability to trick my mind into “enjoying” any job / turn it into a game, which can help me perform at that high level, even if I am “only” packing books in a warehouse.
As Gary says in the video…some people get joy from watching game of thrones and that is awesome, no one judges for you for that. Just be open to the fact that for some people their “game of thrones” is business or a data problem (mine).