Snuff is itchy.
Work life

Snuff is itchy.

April 19, 2022



  • Winn-Dixie grocery clerk:
    How to work with the public — and how NOT to open a box of snuff with a box cutter.
  • Jack-of-all-trades at father's drug store:
    How to stock shelves, make deliveries without a driver's license, and run the bow-maker at the holiday wrapping station.
  • Bookkeeper at accounting firm:
    How to use a floppy disc, balance debits and credits, and reject the advances of a creepy boss.
  • County finance officer:
    How politics and partisanship influence policy — and how dedicated public servants make a difference anyway.
  • Payroll manager at manufacturing plant:
    How to work with all kinds of people (from owner to mill worker) and understand that the best solution doesn't always come from the top.
  • Co-founder of performing arts non-profit (with Jan):
    How to vet and manage a team, warm up an audience, and make room for the voice of an 8-year-old.
  • Co-founder of Jan & Susan:
    How to start over, build on experience, and learn that saying "no" is sometimes the best answer.



  • Seamstress for clothing & costume designer:
    How to rip out a seam and try again until it's perfect.
  • Day camp riflery instructor:
    How to bluff in a job interview, show up on time, and pop balloons with a BB gun.
  • Bank teller:
    How to deal with customers, work with precision, balance a cash drawer, and count money really fast.
  • Bank training manager:
    How to speak in front of a group, write procedures, perform CPR, and manage other people.
  • Children’s ministry director:
    How to work with volunteers, plan programs and events, and teach kids.
  • Office manager:
    How to quit on the spot for ethical reasons.
  • Co-founder of performing arts non-profit (with Susan):
    How to pursue a dream, build a business from the ground up, and find my creative sweet spot.
  • Co-founder of Jan & Susan:
    How to put all the above to work for other business owners.

And here's the point.

Every job, no matter how crappy, has something important to teach. For most of us, the first job is a huge lesson in responsibility, independence, people skills, and working under authority. From there, the career path often zigs and zags through some combination of accident, opportunity, and serendipity — that's the case for us, at least.

And guess what? We're still learning. This past week was a big lesson in perseverance, working under pressure, and balancing work and family responsibilities. After an emergency trip, we are working from North Carolina while caring for a parent whose health is in rapid decline.

Owning a business is challenging, but at times like these we are very grateful for flexibility and autonomy. We are also very cognizant this is a privilege many people don't enjoy.

And that's another good lesson.

First Jobs of Important People

  • Colin Powell, Former United States National Security Advisor
    Worked as a furniture salesman to a children’s furniture store
  • Barack Obama, Former President of the United States
    Scooped ice cream at Baskin-Robbins when he was in high school
  • Matthew McConaughey, Actor
    Shoveled chicken manure in Australia
  • Pope Francis
    Worked at a local bar as a bouncer
  • Bill Murray, Actor
    Sold chestnuts outside of a grocery store
  • Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon
    Flipped burgers at McDonald’s during his summer break as a teenager
  • Christopher Walken, Actor
    Joined the circus as a lion tamer
  • Mark Cuban, Owner of the Dallas Mavericks
    Went door-to-door selling garbage bags when he was 12 years old
  • Taylor Swift, Singer/Songwriter
    Removed praying mantis pods from the trees of the Christmas tree farm that she grew up on
  • Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs
    Worked as a concession vendor at Yankee Stadium
  • Madeline Albright, First female Secretary of State
    Sold women’s lingerie at a department store in Denver
  • Abraham Lincoln, Former President of the United States
    Was a clerk in an Illinois general store
  • Johnny Depp, Actor
    Sold pens as a telemarketer
  • Hugh Jackman, Actor
    Was a high school Physical Education teacher in England and Coco the party clown for children’s birthday parties

What's on your to-do list this week? Same things as last week? If so, that means one of two things: (1) you are managing recurring tasks yourself, or (2) you can't get to everything on your list and are carrying things over from week to week.

We help busy clients check things off their to-do lists every day. Want to know how an admin plan can benefit you? Click here and schedule a time to chat.

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