Follow Your Dreams

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‘It’s our choices, Harry,
that show us what we really are…
far more than our abilities.’

~ Albus Dumbledore from ‘ Harry Potter’ by J K Rowling ~

Thanks to all of the feedback I received on my post last week, I did entertain the Junior Achievement students with the story of my first job.  After letting them know I was fired and why, I went on to explain to them that had I found out early what was expected of me it probably would have gone much differently. When I was sharing this story with them, I thought it best to also let them know that my first professional job was much more successful. I was a legal secretary and worked with I.B.M. Wow that made an impression, until I told them to beware of acronyms. I.B.M. in this case stood for the International Brotherhood of Magicians. Well the students were still impressed, maybe more impressed than before.  I went on to explain that my employer, in addition to being an attorney, was also a magician and that he held the position of International Secretary for this I.B.M. In that role he was responsible for publishing and collecting the subscription fees for their monthly magazine, The Linking Ring.

Thinking back on my legal secretary days, I had an opportunity to hone my typing and shorthand skills, learn some basic accounting, multi-currency, banking, and money management. Additionally I learned how to run the Linotype machine. For you youngsters, think large metal monster clang and bang late into the night just to get the mailing of the magazine out.  What took me days now takes only a few hours using an Outlook Address book and Mail Merge. Oh how life has changed.

Enough about the metal monster of magazine mailing. The lesson I learned that has stuck with me and still is of value today is that you really can live your dreams. Let me give you some background on my attorney boss. He was a friend of my mothers and came from an upstanding “farming family.” He was a big guy one you might term as a “gentle giant.” His hands were large and calloused from bailing hay all summer and he also had the misfortune to be born with a club foot.  His boyhood desire was to escape the farming life and tour the world as a magician. For those of you who have tried a magic trick or two you will know how important it is to move quickly and have “sleight of hand.” He realized early on that neither of these two most important skills would ever be within his capabilities. Wanting to escape the farm, he studied hard and got a scholarship to Ohio State University and went on to study law and sit for the bar exam. Still a small town boy at heart, he returned home and setup his law practice.

Never forgetting his early dreams, he decided that he still could do some magic so he joined the I.B.M. and performed magic tricks at children’s parties. He used his business acumen to benefit the Brotherhood and for many years held his International Secretary position, publishing and distributing The Linking Ring.  I have many fond memories of those days in that tiny office and the clanging banging Linotype. Today when I look back I realized that he did not give up on his dream, he just let it take on a slightly different form. In doing that he brought a lot of smiles to children’s faces, touched the lives of many budding magicians in far off lands, and helped one very impressionable girl understand that you should never give up on your dream.

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A Trip Down Memory Lane

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“I think everyone should experience defeat at least once during their career. You learn a lot from it.” -Lou Holtz

This week has been a trip down memory lane. Let me just say that it is a very long lane and went all the way back to when I got my first job as a waitress. The pay was awesome, a whole 75 cents an hour. That was a super raise from the 50 cents per hour I had been earning from babysitting.  My days as a waitress at the local diner were not long-lived, they were cut short by my behavior. Well, no one had bothered to tell me that I couldn’t clock out for my lunch break at noon to sit and eat with my mother. Humph guess they thought I would just have enough sense to know not to take a break at the busiest time of the day. Who knew that they would fire me for such an innocent offense? Oh well, my second job was way better – frying chicken at the Hardin County Fair where they loved me and I made a whopping $1.25 per hour.

Let me put this trip down memory lane in context. I am hosting a Junior Achievement (JA) Job Shadow Day here at our offices next week. As a part of that, we held a “lunch and learn” session for the staff who volunteered to be the JA job shadow hosts so that they could understand the agenda for the day and learn what was expected of them as a host. During that meeting the JA Program Manager showed a few great video’s. One of them was, “Make a Difference in the Life of a Child” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZLeBFNIUVo ( to learn more about Junior Achievement in Orange County visit http://jaoc.org/) .

While we were having our lunch, we started discussing our first job experiences and how much we did not know about the work world.  For some of the hosts, their trips down memory lane was much shorter than mine, but in every case we remembered how much we didn’t know then compared to where we are at today. This helped us put in context what we could do as hosts for the students. Modeling professional behavior, showing enthusiasm for our work and for the company, and answering the students questions will all be a part of the day. Especially explaining to the students how we got to where we are today. Some of us have taken a very circuitous route to get to the positions we currently hold. This brought me to the memories of a few of my first jobs. I can say that I have learned a bit since then.  One, it is important to understand what is expected of you on the job, two, it is important to show up for work on time and ready to work, and three, repeat one and two each and every day.  The rest is just good manners, be kind, be trustworthy, be respectful, and be a team player.

So it is with excitement that I am looking forward to our Junior Achievement Job Shadow Day.  We will have over fifty students visiting from two different local high schools along with a few teachers. What a great opportunity this is for our staff and the students.  However, I don’t think I will share with the students my first job experience or maybe on the other hand I should. What do you think?