I like to take advice from old people. They’ve seen more, done more, and often have made the mistakes that I’d like to avoid in life. Older people are wiser (most of the time), they’re often much more content, and they have qualities I lack. Patience and a greater sense of what this thing they call life means. I still remember one piece of advice an old man gave me when I was starting out in my early days of college. He was a stock broker for most of his life, but in the last decade had started a popular Irish pub in my hometown. He said “I think every young person starting out in life should be either a bartender or a cab driver”… I responded “why?”
Can You Start a Conversation With Anyone?
If you’re a good cab driver or bartender you’ll have gained the ability to speak to anyone. You see all kinds of people at the bar or in your cab so you have to be able to communicate with each one in order to get the highest return from the situation… your tip. Before I started bartending in college I was sooooo incredibly shy, but putting myself in that situation made me overcome my fears and develop new skills.
What do You Gain by Being Able to Talk to People?
Self confidence… the ability to sell anything, the ability to understand others and read what they want. Better communication and higher confidence will also help you more with the opposite sex :). The list goes on and on, but anytime you’re dealing with another person you’re using this skill. To gain the conversation practice that’s helpful don’t bartend at a nightclub, get a job instead at an upscale restaurant where the clientele is more select and you’ll have to actually talk to the customers.
Think About Intangible Benefits of a Job
Although many people simply look at the tangible benefits of a job, that is, a paycheck, there are often underlying benefits that make it much more beneficial. Are you gaining new skills for free? How about experiences that will allow you to make more money in the future? Perhaps simply working with someone who is prominent in your industry is the perk. Either way, money, at least in my mind, is not the overriding indicator as to whether or not I’ll take a job.
In my opinion, being a bartender really isn’t hard work. I actually prefer the job of bartender of that of desk jockey. Why? Because I get to move around and I feel better when I’m moving around, it also helps me from getting fat by sitting all day. I get to talk to people who are on vacation and have fun with them. I get to be the guy who makes people their favorite beverage. I get to have fun with co-workers who are close to my age rather than feeling like the young outcast in the office (which has happened and is not fun at all). The money isn’t bad and it supports my other endeavors until they take off and support themselves. This of course is only a strategy for someone who is financially responsible, isn’t an alcoholic, and who has goals other than bartending to get financially ahead.
When I’m an old wise man one day (knock on wood) I hope to share similar advice from any young person starting out as well. Go tend bar or drive a cab, even if you do it part time while you’re working your full time gig, just so you learn to talk to your fellow human beings. Learning this skill will take your further than you could possibly imagine. You may have your CPA, your CFP, your MBA, and all the other skills in the world, but until you can effectively communicate with other human beings you’ll never be successful.
What other jobs do you think young people starting out should take to gain the intangible benefits that will help them later on?
Image from tmab2003