Teens

Sample Chapter #2

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The Thief

Mentor: An experienced individual who is willing to share his or her wisdom with another person in an effort to further that personís career aspirations.

When I was 13…and it’s none of your business how long ago that might have been…I got a job. Not a full-time job because, obviously, I was in school at that time –eighth grade to be exact. But after school, almost every day of the week and for sure on Saturdays, I worked at a store that sold tennis equipment, clothes, shoes, etc. It wasn’t a big store. In fact, there were only two other people working at the store. There was the guy who owned the store, Mr. Regan, and one other employee. Her name was Becky, and I will never forget that girl. I will never forget Becky because she changed my life and provided mewith an amazing opportunity that opened the door to success for me. Remember, I was 13 years old at the time. Yes, it can happen when you are just a teenager!

The tennis store was close to where I lived, so I rode my bike to work each day after school. Mr. Regan hired me to work in his store because he knew I loved to play tennis. He was also keenly aware that I knew anyone and everyone who played tennis in our little town. He also gave me the job because I walked into his store and asked for it.

There is no way you will get many Yes answers in life if you are not willing to ask. Sure, you will get your fair share of No’s as well, but that’s just part of the process. In fact, it is a very important part of the process. If you can learn now, at an early age, how to deal with the No’s in life, you will have one more advantage over most people, many of whom never figure this out.

Back to my first part-time job and my co-worker, Becky. There are a couple of reasons why that seemingly insignificant part- time job, at age 13, opened the door to success for me.

First, working in a tennis shop gave me an opportunity to work in an environment that was related to something for which I had great passion. Tennis was indeed my passion, and that made coming to work every day seem like anything but work.

Ever thought about what your passion might be? You can be sure that your passion is related to one or more of your natural talents. Everyone has natural talents, even you!

Pay close attention to yourself and your interests, and see if you can figure out what your passion(s) might be. If you are one of the fortunate people who lands a job related to your passion, you might go all the way throughlife and never even think of your job as work. Now, wouldn’t that be sweet?

Second, I lucked out when I went to work for Mr. Regan. I really did luck out because Mr. Regan didn’t only want me to work for him. He also wanted me to learn from him. He was a successful businessman whowas determined to teach me more than the average teenage employee was supposed to learn at a part-time job. Yes, there are adults out there like that. Adults who are interested in helping you prepare for your entry into the real world. Those people are definitely out there. However, they probably won’t come knocking on your door, so be on the lookout.

Why Mr. Regan felt the way he did I will never know for sure, but for me, it all started right there in that tennis shop in asmall town in Louisiana when I was 13 years old. The process of succeeding in life does not start the day you graduate from high school or even college. It starts long before that, and the earlier you start, the better your chances will be. Don’t be like all those young people I met as I traveled across America on my two-year journey. They waited too long to start preparing to succeed. You can do better. Success can start today for every one of you.

Starting with my first day on the job, Mr. Regan taught me everything he possibly could about his business. He taught me how to string tennis rackets and how to sell shoes and tennis equipment. He taught me how to deal with customers, even the difficult ones. He also taught me to remember all of the customers’names so that I could call them by their name when they came into the store. People really seemed to like that. He even taught me how to order and manage inventory in the store and how to advertise and market our products.

Mr. Regan taught me most of the workplace skills I know today. I was only 13 when that happened. At the risk of repeating myself, I will say that one more time.

I was only 13 when I learned most of the workplace skills I have today. It’s never too early to learn those skills.

That’s right. I did not learn my workplace skills in Business School. Nor did I learn my workplace skills while working for a big corporation after college. I started learning my skills and getting career ready when I was 13. I have continued to use those skills for many years in many different businesses. They worked when I was 13, and they still work today. They will also work for you if you are lucky enough to learn the workplace skills early and then have a chance to practice them sothat they can improve.

Start looking for your “Mr. Regan” as soon as possible. And remember, it could also be a Mrs. Regan! They aren’t everywhere, but they are somewhere. There are many adults who are able and willing to go the extra mile to help you…if you are willing and able to ask for help.

What about Becky? Remember her? She was the only employee at the tennis store other than Mr. Regan and me. Becky is the person who changed my life and opened the door to success for me. She was about 27 years old when we worked together. She was twice as old as I was and not even half as old as Mr. Regan. But, for some strange reason, Becky thought she was a lot smarter than the rest of us.

It didn’t take very long to find out that Becky wasn’t nearly as smart as she thought she was.

Becky’s main problem was that she thought she knew everything there was to know about business the day she starting working for Mr. Regan. So, when he tried to teach her the same workplace skills he was teaching me, she wasn’t interested. She thought she knew it all already. Have you ever met someone like that? Some people look in the mirror and see someone like that. Don’t be one of those people.

Back to Becky. She was actually my boss. When Mr. Regan was not in the store, Becky was in charge. She wasn’t a very good boss. She was a little lazy, not very good with customers, often late for work, and mostly a pain in the you-know-what! Are you getting the impression that I wasn’t a big fan of my boss Becky?

Get ready because I am not the only person in America who will have to deal with a difficult boss at some point. You will probably find yourself in the same situation sooner than later. Odds are pretty good that, eventually, you will have to deal with a boss who is a bit of a jerk. In fact, you might even have a boss who is more than a bit of a jerk. You might end up with a boss who is a total jerk!

It’s not much fun when you don’t care for your boss, but the experience doesn’t have to be all bad. In fact, dealing with a difficult boss can also present some real opportunities in life.

The three years I spent working with Becky taught me a lot about dealing with difficult people. I learned that, no matter how unpleasant she was, I had to work through it and keep my eye on the prize. What prize? The prize was my job, and I didn’t want to lose that prize just because my boss was a jerk. Working with Becky, day after day, gave me a chance to practice the skill of dealing with a difficult boss when I was just 13 and that experience has paid off ever since.

I know what you are thinking. How could I be going on and on telling you about my horrible boss Becky when just a few minutes ago I was telling you that Becky changed my life and that she opened the door to success for me? Doesn’t make much sense does it? Hang on, it’s about to make total sense.

Three years after I started working for Mr. Regan tragedy struck. It happened in an instant, and it was a total shock to everyone. Mr. Regan had a heart attack while playing tennis one day and dropped dead right there on the tennis court. No warning. No advance notice. His heart just stopped pumping, and he died instantly.

When Mr. Regan died I lost a great friend. Yes, teenagers can have friends who are much older. I also lost a great mentor. That man had taught me more about business in three years than I could ever have imagined. Finally, I lost the owner of the business where I worked. That’s a lot to lose in one day when you are just 16 years old.

Mr. Regan’s 40-year-old daughter took over the business and called a meeting with Becky to discuss the future of the store. The daughter knew nothing about the business and had to rely on Becky for answers to her questions. That was to be expected since Becky had been the store manager for some time. After their meeting, it was decided that the store would remain open. Becky would be the manager, and I would be the only other employee (part-time). Remember, I was only 16 years old at the time.

So far, so good…until Becky tried to pull a fast one on the new owner.

After a few weeks Becky, who was now opening and closing the store every day, came up with an interesting idea. At the end of each day, for several days, Becky started trying on new clothes and shoes from the store right before closing time. She would take a stack of new clothes into the dressing room and come out of the dressing room wearing those new clothes. No big deal except that, for some reason, Becky somehow forgot to take off those new clothes and shoes at the end of the day and put her own clothes back on. Instead, she walked right out of the store, after closing for the day, wearing all the new clothes and shoes she had tried on. She then forgot to return those new clothes and shoes the next day or any day for that matter!

That’s right, sweet little Becky was a full blown thief. Ripping off the new owner every chance she got. She was filling her closet at home with stacks of brand new clothes and shoes day after day. I started calling her Bad News Becky.

The whole scam worked pretty well until one day she left a bag filled with her old clothes at the store when she walked out wearing the new clothes. The new owner discovered the bag of old clothes the next day, confronted Bad News Becky, and proceeded to fire her right on the spot. My new name for her was Bye-Bye Becky!

The owner had all door locks at the store changed and called me in for a meeting the next day. I wasn’t looking forward to that meeting. I was pretty sure the new owner was going to close the store or sell it since she knew nothing at all about running the business and she had just fired her only full-time employee, Bad News Becky. After school, I rode my bike to work just as I had done every other day. I walked into the store to meet with the owner, and that’s when Becky changed my life and opened the door to success for me.

As you know, the new owner was Mr. Regan’s daughter, so I had seen her often during the time I had worked for her father. She knew how much time her dad had spent teaching me about his business, and she knew what a great teacher he was. Mr. Regan’s daughter asked me to sit down, looked right at me, and said, “How much do you know about this business?”

That’s when my life changed. Right there at the tennis shop when I was 16 years old, I was about to find out just how career ready I really was.

I told Mr. Regan’s daughter that I knew everything about the business, from start to finish, top to bottom. I explained that her dad had taken me under his wing when I was 13 and proceeded to teach me every aspect of the business. I thought she would be shocked, but she didn’t seem surprised at all. She knew her dad, and she also knew how much he enjoyed sharing his knowledge and skills with young people like me.

Then, she blew me away with what she said next. She offered to pay me five times what I was currently being paid if I would teach her what I knew about the business that her dad had started, built, and left to her. I was stunned. That would be like someone offering you $40 an hour just to share what you know about your part-time job! I obviously accepted her offer, and as I walked out the store that day, all I could think about was how grateful I was that Bad News Becky was such a crook!

If Becky had not decided to borrow all those brand new clothes, she would have continued as store manager and no one would be interested in what some 16-year-old kid knew about the business. I love that Becky.

The workplace skills I learned as a teenager from Mr. Regan were all of a sudden the most valuable asset I had. I still use those skills today because they are totally transferable. That means I can take those skills from job to job and career to career for the rest of my life. This is important to me since I have already had eight or nine different careers, and I will probably have a few more before I’m done.

It will also be important to you much sooner than later.


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