Inspired by the “My First Job” article series on LinkedIn, we had our very own thought leaders reflect on their first working experiences. In the last article in our 3-part blog series, David Wilgus recalls his first job and what it taught him.
I got my first real job when I turned 16 and my parents let me know that I was off the allowance dole. I applied for a job as an usher at the now-defunct General Cinema Theater. Those of a certain generation will remember the animated mascot Popcorn Bob and his Candy Band. I had always been a big movie fan and thought this might be the perfect job because one of the “perks” was getting to see movies free. I quickly learned that being an usher was the opposite of Hollywood movie glamour.
The required usher “uniform” was black slacks, black shoes and a white shirt. They supplied a nifty polyester, powder-blue blazer with the GCC logo. Unfortunately, I was late getting to the supply closet that first night on the job due to my 15-minute orientation. The only jacket left in the closet was two times my size. There is nothing more humbling than wearing a giant blazer with rolled up sleeves. Never be late (to the supply closet) was a critical lesson I never forgot.
The job entailed a lot more than tearing tickets. We stocked candy shelves, changed out carbonated drink syrup bottles, popped mountains of popcorn and cleaned empty theaters. I learned that friendships are built when a team of people work together to achieve even mundane tasks.
One Saturday morning I learned the value of helping your teammates in difficult situations. The theater had a special matinee price for kids. Moms would drop their children off to see a Benji movie while they shopped at the mall. They would give them money for popcorn and candy and the kids would stuff themselves. One of the female ushers came to me in a panic. She looked pale and was gagging a little. Several kids had thrown up in the girls’ bathroom and she was told to clean it up. She couldn’t do it and begged me to help. I did the dirty work and cleaned up the horrific mess. I won lots of brownie points that day with all the female ushers, and it paid off in future favors when I needed to rearrange my work schedule or needed to get off a little early.
Another valuable lesson learned from my cinema days was to look for new opportunities and take chances. One night the assistant manager asked if I wanted “sign duty.” I was told that it paid $5.00 an hour vs. the $2.10 minimum wage I was making as an usher. I jumped at the chance to make more money but had to rethink my decision when I found out what the job entailed. “Sign duty” meant climbing a 12-foot ladder up to the giant marquis and changing the movie titles. This was a two-man job and the first step was convincing one of your teenage buddies to go and hold the ladder for you. Once you recruited an assistant, the two of you would begin by getting all the title and time information and matching it with the huge black plastic letters we had in storage. Unfortunately there weren’t always enough letters for the longer titles, so we did our own editing. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia became Bring Me Alfredo. I wasn’t afraid of heights and actually kind of liked the job and loved the extra pay.
I ended up working at General Cinema throughout my high school years and, as much as I enjoyed the experience, it taught me perhaps the most important lesson of all – I definitely wanted to do something more with my life. The summer of my senior year I got a call from the Cinema manager. He offered me a full-time job as assistant manager. “No thanks,” I said. “I’m going to college.”
Inspired by the “My First Job” article series on LinkedIn, we had our very own thought leaders reflect on their first working experiences. In this second article in our 3-part blog series, Michael Boone recalls his first job and what it taught him.
I was fifteen with plans to buy a car when I turned 16. So I needed money. And a part-time job. I was surprised to learn that many places wouldn’t hire someone younger than 16, and then, when I got the gig, how torturous a four mile commute in Texas summer heat without a car was (#DeathValley).
Who hired me? A fledgling company (I’m aging myself): Wendy’s Old-Fashioned Hamburgers. They were not yet 10 years old and had just expanded into DFW.
I started on a Thursday evening shift, after school. The sane, rational manager, Steve, who used to reminisce about hearing CSNY sing in 4-part harmony at Woodstock, took me under his wing. Anyway, I nailed it! I worked the grill, “dressed burgers”, worked the fryer and kept up with the dinner rush. I was ready to accept my gold watch and lifetime achievement awards when my shift ended.
Then came shift #2. The very next day. Friday night.
The manager, Steve, was off. The less sane, less rational, snarling ball of attitude assistant manager, Reggie, was in charge. And this particular Friday was probably the busiest day in the history of burgerdom (right?). Far busier and more hectic than the previous night, 24 short hours ago.
I took my place in the prep line, fell behind, might’ve botched a couple orders then was unceremoniously banished to the fry cooker or rest room clean-up. My mojo was no more. Next thing I knew, Reggie invited me to leave early; he sent me home having decided they’d be better off with one fewer pair of hands, since those hands were mine.
It was humiliating but I got it. I’d been thrown into the French fryer pretty fast without much training or practice. Yes, the mistakes were mine. I got burned for $2.65/hour.
I’m not sure when my next shift was but I prayed that Reggie would not be there (ever). Wish not granted. I did outlast Reggie at the restaurant (not sure if he quit, was fired or got transferred). Soon I proved competent and trusted on every day of the week, even earning a raise after several months of toiling on the grill and doing back-breaking clean-up work. To $2.70/hour, which thrilled me until a smart-ass friend of mine pointed out that the increase rolled-up to $2 gross for a full forty-hour work week. Nonetheless I had fun and stayed at Wendy’s until my family moved and the commute was not feasible. I did get my car, too, so the story turned out well. Except that the car was a lemon…
What did I learn? Baptism by fire is ok, to some degree, but putting someone unprepared and inexperienced into a setting with some risk reflects poorly on the manager, less so the worker. Oh, and I almost never lose my patience with fast food workers because I know how hard and thankless the job can be for so little pay. Hard living!
Inspired by the “My First Job” article series on LinkedIn, we had our very own thought leaders reflect on their first working experiences. In the first part of a 3-part blog series, Diane Seimetz recalls the life lessons received from her first job.
Though I’d been babysitting and snow shoveling since pre-puberty, my first real job was at a toy store called Kids Town in DeWitt, New York.
Initially, the thought of total toy immersion as work was positively euphoric; I imagined hours frittering away with Flatsy dolls and Shrinky Dinks and battery-operated Star Wars light sabers AND GETTING PAID FOR IT.
The first Saturday they scheduled me at 8 a.m.(first lesson learned: I’m not a morning person), pressed a time card in my hand and introduced me to my new manager. Not Manager “Josh” the cute high school senior with big guns and tight Levi’s in my mind’s eye – but Manager Esther, a grandmother with glasses on a chain around her neck and a really bad attitude. Particularly when it came to me. Particularly because we were all on commission, and it became clear pretty fast that Esther scared the crap out of most kids and their mothers. So when I arrived on the sales floor – “What Me Worry?” t-shirt and seersucker elephant pants and all – Granny E’s GNP started taking a hit. Needless to say she didn’t take this very well, and banished me to the cribs and diaper pails area of Kids Town, also known as Siberia. Undaunted, and also a little dense, I started making the “back of the house” cool – letting kids demo open box items and explaining how the newfangled electronic games like Atari worked, since the other Methuselahs on the sales floor had no clue. Lesson two: Success is the best revenge. I went from $2.30 an hour, minimum wage, to averaging almost $5 an hour that year. I found my competitive spirit among the Cabbage Patch Kids, and I never lost it.
To Be Continued….
In what has become an annual tradition, Launch Agency employees celebrated the Fourth of July and all things Americana with a South-of-the-Border battle in the 2011 Tex-Mex Taste-Off.
The trash talk started at 8:30 that morning, but the competition kicked off at noon with five competing salsas, three quesos, four guacamoles and two desserts. Congrats to all our winners:
Best Original Salsa: Michael Boone, reigning champion of Taste-Off 2010
Best “Fun” Salsa: Joanna Rodriguez with her Fiesta Salsa
Best Queso: Jason Giles and Richard Wezensky, whose secret ingredients were cilantro and soy sausage bits
Best Guacamole: Alexandra Watson, whose guac packed some heat
Best Dessert: Megan Kelly with her killer Sopapilla Cheesecake.
All these competing dishes – combined with fajitas supplied by Launch Principals Michael Boone, Diane Seimetz and David Wilgus – made for an incredibly stuffed and happy Launch staff. Photos follow.
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As with most families, Launch has several traditions that mark each holiday season.
To celebrate Turkey Day, each member of the Launch team shared their favorite holiday food at our annual “Launchgiving” feast. Bellies and hearts were both full, as we also collected cans of food for those less fortunate.
For Christmas, the Launch partners – Michael Boone, Diane Seimetz and Dave Wilgus – supplied a delicious catered meal, tested our wit in a rousing game of Launch trivia and surprised us with Apple iPads. Again we counted our blessings and shared with those less fortunate by contributing to a toy drive benefiting our client the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County.
From the Launch family to yours, we wish you a Happy Holiday season and a healthy, prosperous 2011! Click here to view our holiday card. Season’s Greetings!
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Launch principal, creative director, David Wilgus, played host this past Saturday to scouts from his church. Boy Scout Troop 835 came to the Launch office for insight into the world of advertising. In addition to Wilgus’ words, the scouts were particularly impressed with the “fun” office, replete with all the toys and random decorations that make it comfortable and personable.
As thanks, the Troop sent Wilgus a Merit badge in Space Exploration. The rocket-themed patch matches the Launch decor and will be a great addition to our prized collection of memorabilia. The boys received more than Wilgus wisdom; each walked away with a brand new Launch ball cap.
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We like to stay on the cutting edge of . . . well . . . everything here at Launch, so we sent Art Director Reuben Miller to this year’s HOW Conference to learn everything he could about technology and design. From printing to design programs to sources of inspiration, Reuben absorbed it all and, fortunately for us, shared his knowledge.
The first session attended was “Inspiration: You Are What You Keep” by Gail Anderson—creative director of design at SpotCo. Her main message was that when we’re young, we gravitate toward certain things, and as we get older, we begin to identify what those things are and use them for inspiration. Those different sources of inspiration make individual designers unique.
Next up, “Print to Web Breakthrough,” was delivered by Mark O’Brien, president of Newfangled Web Developers. Reuben learned a few tricks to make websites more crawlable. For starters, keeping a 300 to 500 word digital newsletter that gets updated once a month is a good way to keep Google bots interested in your site. This will keep your domain high on the Google search list. O’Brien also told attendees of a new web service that allows designers to use non-website-compatible fonts. This service serves up fonts every time a page loads, so that designers can choose any font when creating a website. This allows people to take their favorite fonts online and differentiate their site from others’.
In “Good vs. Great Design”, speaker Cameron Moll, co-author of CSS Mastery and author of Mobile Web Design, pointed out that most people use the word “inspiration” incorrectly. What they really mean is “influence.” An influence is something that affects your ideas, whereas inspiration is the product of your creative thinking and work. Inspiration is something that is earned, while influences can be found anywhere. In the end, the best designs come from turning the things we love, our influences, into something that others can find value in. Moll stated that most of us are starters – we have tons of great ideas, but that’s where they end. Those ideas never reach fruition because most people aren’t finishers. An inhibitor to becoming a finisher is stress, but there is also good stress, which Moll termed “eustress.” Eustress comes from activities that push us in an enjoyable way, such as working out. Last, but not least, Moll touched on the “blur test” in relation to digital hierarchy. As taught in design school, when you look at a design and blur your eyes, you’ll be able to see what jumps out the most. With print, and especially digital, creating a hierarchy is the art of managing, not eliminating elements.
Reuben’s last seminar, “Creating Five-Alarm Concepts,” earned his coveted “bad ass” designation. Speaker Von Glitschka has all of his slides and notes available for download, so instead of a short Reuben recap, feel free to download it all for yourself.
We’ll get back to you soon with more wisdom from the speakers, but until then, please tell us your favorite takeaways from this year’s How Conference.
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In honor of Launch Agency‘s 7th birthday, the whole team went to Steve Fields (one of the finest restaurants in Plano, and Dallas, for that matter) to celebrate. Nothing like some cocktails, jumbo shrimp, prime steaks, and chocolate cake to hail seven years in business and seven years of consecutive growth.
Employees didn’t drop a dime, but we did have to “sing for our supper.” That is, each person had to create an award and give it to a co-worker. Some awards were serious, some sentimental and some crazy funny. Some even came with trophies, visual aids and a poem. Not a bad deal for a gourmet meal.
Here are just a couple of the awards:
Ashley received a can of spinach for having the “best laugh that sounds a little like Popeye.” She was also given a miniature punching bag featuring the faces of two of her favorite co-workers (Jason and Richard).
Principal and Account Director Michael Boone summed it up best, “This is such a fast-paced business; everyone at Launch works very hard and stays constantly busy. It’s a lot of fun to take a night to celebrate our successes and spend time with one another as friends – not simply as friendly coworkers on tight deadlines.”
Launch’s b-day is March 1st (don’t forget to drop us a card or email next year).
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As 2009 drew to an end, the Launch team gathered together for our annual holiday lunch party, featuring a catered BBQ feast with all the fixin’s. (Yes, some Texans actually talk that way, but not most.) The highlight of the celebration was the prize-filled agency trivia contest, followed by the surprise gifts everyone received from Santa. One was a very cool, high-tech gadget; the other, a decidedly low-tech gift.
View all the fun on Flickr.
From all of us at Launch, here’s to a happy, healthy, prosperous 2010.
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