I moved furniture for a summer back in college because at the time it was paying top dollar for a summer job – $7.00. I learned a lot that summer besides a more colorful vocabulary and in hindsight a lot of it applies to life and work today as it did to moving furniture on those hot summer days.
If I heard it once I heard a half dozen times that summer from honest, hard working guys that cut a living from moving stuff from place to place and it was, “stay in school.”
I did stay in school and I look back nearly 20 years ago and think about some of the lessons learned that summer hauling furniture around Northern Indiana.
1) Respect those in front of you
There is a pecking order and you are at the bottom.
2) Show up, shut up and hold your end up
Simply, be on time, don’t complain and carry your weight.
3) You don’t stop until the job is done
It may be 5 o’clock somewhere but you don’t finish working until the job is done and there isn’t a dinner break.
4) Leadership is everywhere
There were crew leaders and guys I now think in hindsight were very good leaders. They kept it light, kept you laughing, worked you hard when they needed to, showed up well to the lady of the house and were the first one to hand you a beer after a long day.
5) Have a strategy before you start
Big house jobs would have a lead guy who surveyed the house and made the calls on when and how the furniture would go on the truck. Sometimes these were cross-country moves and you would have to get an entire house into half of an 18 wheeler. I had never seen spatial reasoning to this degree it really is something to behold and it wouldn’t work unless there was a strategy before bringing the first dresser on to the truck.
6) Build a solid foundation
You don’t fit an entire house of contents on a foundation of book boxes. Always start with a good foundation and you can always build on top of it.
7) If it doesn’t fit, try it from a different angle
If something doesn’t seem like a good fit, try looking at it from a new or different perspective and see if that helps clarify the situation. It helps every time.
8) Always, I mean always, hold up your end
It was a cardinal sin of sins to drop a piece. If you are carrying a heavy load like a loaded dresser you cannot under circumstances drop your end I don’t care how tired you are.
9) Sometimes the easiest looking jobs are the hardest
Usually the crew leader was responsible for the loading the truck. He didn’t necessarily carry all of the furniture but he had to make sure it got on the truck safe, sound and arrived at the destination in the same condition. Not the hardest looking job, but it was the hardest.
10) It’s easier to pull than push
Work smarter not harder. These guys had all kinds of tricks to save their backs, time and effort.
All-in-all a good summer, I made some money for school and in hindsight learned a whole lot more.
Jim Lefevere is the Global Head of Marketing Strategy and Support and the Head of Digital Marketing at Roche Diagnostic Corporation. Mr. Lefevere has served as the Chairman of the UnitedWay Annual Capital Campaign and on the Board of Directors for Carmel-Clay Public Library and the CMO Council. Follow Jim on Twitter.