HR Insights, Talent Management

July 4th Advice: What 2 Boys Taught Me About Business, Work, and Life

123RF Stock Photo

Editor’s Note: This is the first of three great pieces of July 4th advice we will be publishing today here at TLNT.

Dylan and Charles have been on summer break for three days and have quite a little enterprise brewing. They’re working hard and making money.

This morning, I noticed them at the end of my street with a table and chairs set up. Dylan was pouring liquid refreshment and making change. Charles was busy waving down cars with a large cardboard sign that reads “Lemenade.”

I love the entrepreneurial spirit of these young lads, but I felt compelled to alert them to their obvious mistake. So I rolled down my window and said, “Hey guys, do you know that you have the word “Lemonade” misspelled on your sign?”

A fan of their work ethic

Dylan looked at the sign, put his hand to his mouth as if shocked and replied, “Oops! Thanks for letting us know, Mr. Chester!”

Now feeling somewhat guilty, I decided to show them that I am a fan of their work ethic and their efforts. So I pulled over, got out of my car, reached for my wallet and bought a glass. (Gave ‘em a nice tip, too.)

“So, when are you going to correct the sign?” I asked.

The boys couldn’t hold their laughter. They slowly turned the sign over to reveal that the back side of the cardboard had the word ‘Lemonade’ spelled correctly.

Nobody stops when we have this side showing,” Charles says. “But so far, eleven people have stopped to point out that we have misspelled the word when the other side is showing.”

P.T. Barnum was right

“How many of those eleven people bought a glass?” I asked.

“You’re the twelfth,” Dylan said with an ear-to-ear grin.

They paused long enough to take this photo with me. Then they politely told me that there were a couple more cars approaching, and asked if I’d move my car so the oncoming drivers could see their sign.

P.T. Barnum was right. There is a sucker born every minute. Count me among them.

(Obviously, Dylan and Charles already have.)

This was originally published on Eric Chester’s Reviving Work Ethic blog. His new book is Reviving Work Ethic: A Leader’s Guide to Ending Entitlement and Restoring Pride in the Emerging Workforce. For copies, visit revivingworkethic.com.

Eric Chester is a leading voice in the global dialogue on employee engagement and building a world-class workplace culture. He's an in-the-trenches researcher on the topic of the emerging workforce and the dynamics of attracting, managing, motivating and retaining top talent. Chester is a Hall-of-Fame keynote speaker and the author of 3 leadership books including Reviving Work Ethic . His new book, On Fire at Work: How Legendary Leaders Ignite Passion in their People without Burning Them Out, will be released later this year. Learn more about Eric at EricChester.com.