Following on my recent posts on youth experience, today’s Wall Street Journal’s In the Lead column written by Carol Hymowitz is entitled “Early Start in Business Teaches CEO’s Lessons They Use to This Day.” (Unfortunately, subscription required to read the on-line edition).
It’s a great article about the experiences some of today’s most prominent business leaders had in their youth. Ms. Hymowitz writes that “Warren Buffett, ceo of Berkshire Hathaway made his first profit reselling bottles of cola when he was only six and earned about $5,000 delivering newspapers in high school – most of which he promptly invested.”
Bill McDermott, ceo of SAP tells stories about a number of jobs that he had as a teen that helped form how he leads his company today. “Whether it’s a deli or SAP, it’s always about differentiating and serving the customer so they keep coming back to you.”
I got my first real job at 14 years old when I was hired as a deckhand on a ferry boat. I got the job through one of my dad’s connections. I remember my first day when the cranky captain complained about the prior mate and how they should never hire anyone under 18. This certainly focused me on proving myself. At 19, I got my captains license and became the captain of the ferry. Needless to say, this was a job with a lot of responsibility and the lessons I learned from it were valuable and long-lasting.
This again proves that we are all an accumulation of our experiences and that it is so important that young people have rich and diverse ones through education, travel and even work.