Every year we attend Seattle Chamber of Commerce’s annual Regional Leadership Conference – this year the Chamber focused on the concept of talent (and how to cultivate it and retain it). The conference brought together business, government and community leaders to discuss topics like apprenticeships, changes to K-12 education, job-skills training and the best ways to fill open positions right here in our region. A few days before the conference, the Chamber posted a series entitled #MyFirstJob, featuring local business leaders sharing memories of their first jobs. We came back inspired and invigorated and developed our own #MyFirstJob series. Read on to learn where Nyhus members got their start and what they’ve carried with them in their professional careers, in this second version of our series.
Karen: “My first paycheck came from following my older sister to a small advertising newspaper office, the Hi-Liter, when I was 15. My job was to cold-call names and phone numbers from index cards to try and get local kids interested in a paper route delivering the Hi-Liter. It was my first experience being in an office environment and exposed me to the importance of a can-do attitude and adapting to the variety of work styles on a team. It also taught me how much a single interaction can make a difference in a person’s day and how important it is to treat people with respect and gratitude – that made for a lot more ‘Yes’s’ than ‘No’s’ on my calls! I worked for a very challenging boss who perfectly fit the description of ‘curmudgeon.’ As a result, I’ve learned over time the importance of fun as a key part of work!”
Aarti: “When you grow up in a family business, you don’t always realize you’re working (probably because you’re also not getting paid!). My family owned restaurants and hotels so as soon as I was able to work a computer I designed menus, researched the competition and helped with operations. I tended the bar, wiped tables and schmoozed customers (as well as a fifteen-year-old knows how to schmooze). I am so thankful for the experience. It created comradery in the family at a time when a fifteen-year-old and eighteen-year-old may have drifted away to other pursuits. We worked late nights, worried about headcounts, counted every penny and celebrated every small win together. Having that experience taught me so much about the passion of entrepreneurs and how valuable it is to have every employee feel like they have skin in the game.”
Isobel: “My first job was literally selling seashells on the seashore. I was in high school, and growing up in a beach town meant the only jobs at that age were hospitality positions at the waterfront hotels, or working in the gift shops that lined the wharf. The shop that I worked at was family-owned and operated, and had been in the family for ages. The summer months were the busiest, and we had customers from every corner of the globe. At times, we became so busy that hours would go by before we would even look up from the register. During rush periods like these, theft on the wharf was common, even during the daytime. This meant that collaboration was crucial. I learned that clearly communicating with my coworkers could mean the difference between a full day of sales or a dramatic dip in revenue–not only that, it helped to boost morale and hold each other accountable. Also, I now know way too much about shells.”