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Do the Small Things Well

My first job was working at a convenience store named Henny Penny. It was located on the east side of Detroit. I got the job through our employment office in my high school. I was 14 and so excited to work and make my own money. My first responsibility was to keep the coolers stacked with beverages. I learned how to keep the cold bottles in the front and the warm bottles in the rear. I would stack the returns and prepare the crates for pick up. I would sweep and mop the floor and make sure other shelves were stocked with product.


One day the owners came to me and told me they liked the way I kept the store clean and organized. They asked me if I wanted to learn how to fry fish and chicken. I jumped at the opportunity. It was my first career promotion. I learned how to clean the fish and chicken, create a dredge for frying, clean the oil, and make the dinners. They hired someone else to do stock and I was taking orders and preparing orders. The store wasn't too far from my home and I would ride my bicycle to work and was always on time. My employment counselor always received a good report. I continued this job until I was ready to move on. My next job was working at a department store named Federals. I worked in men's clothing, wore a suit and tie, and realized this was the type of work I wanted to do in my life.


Today, I stand before people and train them about being excellent in their assignments. The motto of the Binion Consulting Group is "Mastering the Business of Excellence." I share principles of doing the small things well and how important consistency is to motivating people to be their personal and professional best. If I did not learn the importance of doing small things well in my youth, many doors of opportunity would never open for me. I have learned the value of consistency and perseverance, even if you are doing something you don't enjoy.


Many of you have assignments that don't fulfill you. You don't really love what you do but it meets a need. You struggle to find the energy to get up, get to the office, and do the work. Your head spins while you labor to get things done and often you don't give it your best effort. You want it to be over, every day. My encouragement to you is learn to do the small things well. People are paying attention to your effort, especially at a level of senior leadership. If you are at the top, people are looking up to you. They want to see a leader that is excellent in their work, caring about the things and people who are important. Excellence in small things never goes unnoticed. The fastest way to get to the top is to be great at the bottom.


The building where I had my first job is still standing, but long abandoned. Every time I drive by it I remember what I learned and how it prepared me for my future. My godfather taught me that I should know how to do the job of everyone in my company, even if those duties were not part of my assignment. He also taught me that is okay to be good at something, but it is better to be great at something. In the course of my professional career I have become great at what I do because I always do the small things well.


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