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Not Above 'that kind' of Work

A recent post on the Next Door App grabbed my attention.

“Hi! I’m 13 years old and am picking up people’s dog poop in the area and walking dogs. 1 yard per job, more than 1 yard, prices may vary.”

He then went on to list out his very fair prices in detail.

Incredible! How many 13-year-old kids (much less adults) would start a job where their role is to pick up animal waste? During a time when everyone is being publicly judged on social media and a time when employees are quitting at historically high rates for better pay and opportunities, this young person is going against the grain.


His posting gives insight into his character. Consider this…

Nobody looks forward to picking up excrements. Nobody! This teenager recognizes a need and is starting a company based on addressing that need.

He’s innovative.

He is willing to do work that could get him made fun of by friends and classmates. But the money matters more to him.

He’s confident.

He knows that earning money means sometimes doing things that aren’t that fun.

He’s self-aware.

He recognizes that we all have to start somewhere…even if that means picking up waste.

He’s humble.

I'm rooting for this kid. And as long as he stays true to himself, I'm guessing he's going to just fine in business and in life.


Employers today are clamoring for employees who are willing to work, who don’t make excuses, and who are interested in bettering the organization. They aren't likely to want to employ people who refuse to do work that needs to be done...even if that work isn't sexy, exciting, or part of their regular job description. While deployed, I had a senior leader who shared he was “above doing vehicle searchers” because of his rank. So instead of being a team player and helping out his unit, he sat in an air-conditioned building and let his subordinates do extra work. His actions derailed morale that day and every other day he refused to do work he believed was below him.

I’ve vowed to never behave like he did during deployment regardless of title or seniority.

"I'm above that kind of work"

Identifying the best fits for organizations starts with the selection process. Think about the questions we typically ask during an interview. Why are you a good fit for the position? Can you describe a time you were a particularly effective leader? Why do you want to work here?

Maybe we need to start asking more questions that allow us to appropriately identify applicant character attributes.

Imagine instead of asking, “tell me about your greatest strengths," hiring managers asked, “would you be willing to periodically pick up dog poop to help the company grow?” Or, “would you be willing to clean the lavatory once a month, if needed?”

My guess is most of us would say no. And maybe that’s part of the problem.

We're in this together.

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