Every job I've ever had

Every job I’ve ever had (and what I learned from each) [PMP #135]

I find it fascinating when you look back at your life, particularly your childhood, and identify moments that give you clues about what kind of person you’re going to turn into. At the time, you usually don’t realise it’s a significant moment. But when you look back later, these tiny little things stand out as pivotal forks in the road, where, had you made a different decision, your life may have been radically different.

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I thought it would be interesting to list every job I’ve ever had and identify some of these moments. When you do this, it’s interesting to be able to look back and think about the lessons you learned that turned you into the person you are today.

If you’d like to share any big lessons you’ve learned from your previous jobs, please leave me a comment below!

Let’s get into it.

Selling bracelets on holiday in France (Aged 6ish)

When I was about 6, we were on holiday at a campsite in France. There was this market and there was a woman selling plastic bracelet making materials. With encouragement from my mum, I purchased a bundle of colourful plastic string and she showed me how to french plat and make a bracelet. For the rest of the week, I went up to other kids and parents on the campsite and sold custom bracelets for about 3 francs (USD$0.50). They could choose any three colours they liked and I’d make a bracelet on the spot. It was a hit!

I can’t remember how much I made. But everyone remembers being a kid and even a few bucks feels like a lot.

This was my first experience making something from scratch and selling it for a price. My first every business venture. Had my mother not encouraged me to do this, I may never have developed an interest in business.

holiday brothers

IMAGE: My brothers and I on holiday in France.

Paper delivery boy (Aged 13-16)

As soon as I turned 13, I was legally old enough to work and my twin brother and I got hired as paper boys. We would have to get up at 6:00 AM each morning to deliver newspapers around the neighbourhood. In the winter your hands would be freezing as you cycled the route and if it rained (which it often did), tough!

You were paid a fixed price for the route, so if you were fast on the bike the “effective hourly rate” compared to alternative jobs worked out to be pretty good.

Looking back, having to get up early and find the willpower to step outside into the pouring rain helped me to become the morning person that I am now.

Dish washer (Aged 16)

When I was 16, I was old enough to work in a cafe and I got a job as a dish washer at a small local cafe. It was just me and the owner/chef in the kitchen.

Surprisingly, I really enjoyed the work (I think it was just nice to be inside and not cycling around in the pouring rain).

I’d get a new batch of dishes, utensils and cutlery dumped on me every few minutes. I found it really interesting to work out the most efficient way of getting through the workload so I could be ahead of the inbound dishes.

I ended up being so fast on the dishes that the chef got me making chips and sandwiches to help him in the kitchen.

Looking back, this was one of my first experiences learning about the importance of efficiency. I also learned that if I did a good job, I’d be rewarded with more responsibilities and this helped me to develop a good work ethic.

Waiter (Aged 16-21)

After we moved to New Zealand, I got a job as a waiter in a cafe/restaurant. In the five years that I was there, I went from being really nervous in front of customers to developing my people skills and personal confidence.

I also took on a few side projects for the cafe like setting up a Facebook page, posting videos and redesigning the printed menu. While I didn’t get paid for this extra work, it was great leverage when negotiating a higher hourly rate.

Funny story – When I first started, I wasn’t enjoying the work and so-called the owner to tell her I was quitting. Her phone went to voicemail and instead of calling back later, I just didn’t try calling again or quit. Funny how the owner missing that one call meant that I ended up staying at one job for 5 years. And looking back, considering how I grew as a person, I’m very grateful this happened.

paper moon

IMAGE: One of the Paper Moon staff parties (there I am on the bottom row).

Kids sailing coach (Aged 17-19)

Overlapping with my job as a waiter, I spent a few seasons teaching kids how to sail at our local club. I couldn’t believe I was being paid to be out on the water, in the summer, teaching kids how to sail.

Looking back, I can’t remember any significant lessons or moments other than it was a lot of fun.

Explore NZ crew member (Aged 19)

One of the guys I coached sailing with had a second job as a crew member on an ex-America’s Cup boat that took tourists out sailing in Auckland. He was able to get my brother and I both a place on the boat.

This time I’d really made it. What a great way to make money.

Unfortunately, the other crew weren’t that friendly. There was a big learning curve with the job, learning how to sail these high-performance boats wasn’t easy and the crew weren’t really helping to teach me. I often felt their frustration with my lack of experience and I didn’t enjoy the work at all.

I learned that even if what you’re doing is fun, a job can be ruined by the culture and other people you have to work with. I worked on the boat for a summer but didn’t stay any longer after that.

explore nz

First business venture: Greenbox (Aged 20)

When I was at university, my friend and I had our first go at starting a business (if you don’t count making bracelets as a business) where we sold advertising on coffee cup lids to local business. During the lifespan of the business, we had a grand total of two clients. For our first campaign, we had to buy 10,000 coffee lids and apply 10,000 stickers (by hand) to every single lid.

We made a few thousand dollars each but we weren’t all that keen on growing the business considering the amount of manual labour involved.

On the plus side, what I learned doing the accounting for this company taught me a lot and I got an A- on my Accounting 102 paper (which was a big deal because accounting wasn’t even my major).

coffee lid ads

Second business venture: App Factory (Aged 21)

Later that year, we had a go at making an app for the iPhone. We were really inspired by Chad Mureta’s story on Tim Ferriss’s blog. This was in the early days of iPhone apps and we really thought this would make us millionaires.

Combined, we spent about NZD$10,000 on this business and only made a few hundred each. So not exactly a success.

However, we did learn a lot about working with contractors and the importance of testing your ideas before investing significant amounts of money.

app factory

IMAGE: A shot from our cheesy promotional video.

Camera Monkey at Mighty Ape (Aged 20-21)

In early 2012, I’d had enough of my cafe job. I quit and found a new job making YouTube videos for a local online store. It was my job to make fun videos about the products and generally promote the business.

It was hard to convince my colleagues to talk in the videos which didn’t make it easy.

I enjoyed the work and I did this for about a year. I learned a lot about making videos and uploading them to YouTube. Now, YouTube is one of the main ways I promote myself and I’m very grateful for the experience I had early on.

mighty ape camera monkey

Marketing Gorilla at Mighty Ape (Aged 21-24)

After finishing university, I took a full-time job at Mighty Ape in a marketing position. This was my first proper full-time job after studying.

I learned a LOT in this position. To this day, I’m very grateful to have been able to work with some super smart people. It was during my time at Mighty Ape I developed a lot of online marketing skills like SEO, Google Adwords and social media. These skills helped me a lot when setting up my website and online business.

During my time at Mighty Ape, I discovered Asana (affiliate link) while listening to Natalie Sisson’s podcast. I showed it to my boss (who loved it) and took the lead on setting it up for the various teams. The boss ended up paying me a bonus and while I didn’t realise at the time, Mighty Ape was my first consulting client.

As I got better at using Asana and project management in general, I was given more responsibilities including organising trade shows and producing product catalogues. This taught me a lot about managing big projects using Asana.

mighty ape armageddon v2

Mortgage advisor at iRefi (Aged 24 – 25)

From 2015-16 I spent just over a year working with my friend at his mortgage advice company. While I came into help with marketing, I ended up training as a mortgage advisor.

During my time at iRefi, I learned a lot about personal finance and investments. In fact, if it wasn’t for this job, Hayley and I would have never purchased an investment property.

The most important takeaway from this job was the confidence I developed talking and selling to people on the phone. This really came in handy later when I started my consulting business.

It was at iRefi that I was exposed to Pipedrive (affiliate link) for the first time.

While working there, I started my consulting business on the side working with small-medium sized businesses owners helping them with Asana and Pipedrive. By the end of 2016, I was earning more working for myself part-time for 15 hours a week than I was at my full-time job and it was time to quit.

You can read my side-hustle success story to read more about what happened next.

irefi team

Self-employed blogger and consultant (Aged 25 – present day)

And that brings us to where I am now.

I’ve been working for myself for just a little under 3 years. I love the freedom that comes from being your own boss and setting your own hours and I can’t even begin to list the things I’ve learned while working for myself.

I’m not sure what the future looks like. I don’t know that I’ll be doing this for the long-term. At least for now I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and will assess each opportunity as it comes my way.

walking on beach

And there you have it… This post was incredibly fun to write. Like I said at the start, it’s amazing looking back at your life and picking out the key lessons and moments where everything might have been different.

And I'm pleased to be able to look back and see how each job taught me something or helped me in some way to become the person I am today.

If you’d like to share any big lessons you’ve learned from your previous jobs, please leave me a comment below!