What working in the restaurant business taught me about life

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Published in the Baltimore Business Journal on Jun 13, 2019

Posted by Gary S. Williams, CFP®, CRPC®, AIF®

working in the restaurant

My father was born in 1928, so while he lived through the Great Depression, he was too young to fully understand the misfortune as it was unfolding. But, as he aged, he learned valuable lessons about how to deal with hardships and adversity from his parents who felt the brunt of the Great Depression. Some of the greatest lessons my father ever taught me had to do with how to overcome obstacles. Whether the answer was through hard work and grit, or perhaps being flexible to adapt to the situation and staying calm under pressure. Or, maybe how to be creative and innovative to find a solution that seemed impossible at first glance. These important lessons influence me today as I manage and grow my wealth management business.

How can teens today learn about grit, a hard work ethic, and staying calm under pressure – key attributes of any successful business person? My answer would be for all teenagers to work in the restaurant business as a busboy/girl or as a waiter/waitress. Personally, working as both a busboy and waiter in my middle and high school years reiterated my father’s lessons and cemented my understanding key business attributes such as working as a team, dealing with people while under stress, the importance of preparation, having a positive attitude and customer service.

Working as a Team

In the restaurant business, you have a various departments: cooking, dishwashing, waitstaff, and management. Each member of the team plays a role and if one of the positions doesn’t do their job, the rest of the team will not be able to run efficiently.  In today’s competitive restaurant industry, a cohesive team is a key to success.

Dealing with People While Under Stress

I remember being “in the weeds” more times than I could count. For those that don’t know this term, it means having fifty tasks to do, which all need to be done in the next five minutes (and trying to figure out how to prioritize each task). But being in this frantic state, while also needing to put on a smile and appearing calm in front of the customer, is an attribute that requires you to experience the pressure first hand. This can’t be taught in a classroom or learned in books.

The Importance of Preparation

Prior to a shift, the staff of an upscale restaurant needs to shine the silverware, fold hundreds of napkins, prepare sauces and put on clean table clothes to name just a handful of the many preparations that must take place. In business, whether you are preparing for a speech, a client presentation, or a staff meeting, it is just as important as the task itself. In business, if you don’t prepare well, your end result is not going to be ideal.

Having a Positive Attitude and Customer Service

“The customer is always right” has been a motto of many businesses. Sure, sometimes the customer is not right, but at the end of the day, most businesses will appease the client to save a long-term relationship and their reputation as an organization. When you are working for tips, you learn quickly that quality service and a positive attitude will have a direct correlation to the amount of money you can make.

As the father of three kids who worries about their success in life, I have encouraged my children to get jobs in the restaurant business. Both my son and my oldest daughter both plan to get a job this summer as a bus boy and waitress respectively. I am holding onto hope. The youngest is only 12 so I am going to give her some slack... for now.

Let the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals at Williams Asset Management help with your wealth management needs. Whether you need comprehensive and holistic financial planning or investment management, we can help!  We are fee-based, independent financial advisors located in Columbia, the heart of Howard County, Maryland.  Schedule your complimentary consultation today by calling (410) 740-0220!

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