During my first summer in college when friends were lifeguarding and babysitting, I was the hostess at Donovan’s Restaurant in my hometown of Clifton Park, NY. My Uncle Dan encouraged me to do it insisting that there was so much to be learned behind the scenes in a restaurant. I interviewed, got the job and spent nearly every night in that place. I committed the look, the smell and the noise to memory. I loved it so much I returned as often as I could. But what is there to be gained from working in a restaurant you may ask. Life. Life is what you learn.
There was so much “business” for me to learn. I started as hostess and gradually took on more responsibility. Before I knew it I was taking orders, checking on customers at their tables, assisting in wedding planning, helping with shift schedules, scheduling deliveries, answering phones and starting off Saturday night karaoke. And all the while, I would watch “him” in action. Mike Verdile, my boss and my teacher. He was like watching a College Professor and the Mayor all rolled into one. And in watching him I learned some important lessons about life. There are so many; far too many to all fit here so I chose my top 10 favorites.
Lessons from Mike
Show respect to everyone. From the cleaning crew and delivery men to the elderly and famous that would frequent in August. Be kind and show respect.
You get everything you work for. Help, pitch in, see what needs to get done and do it. Hard work speaks volumes about a person’s character.
The buck stops with you. If something isn’t right, fix it. No excuses.
The customer is always right even maybe when they’re not but apologize and make it better. Everyone leaves here satisfied.
Many, many people work insanely hard to pay their rent and put food of their table. Be grateful for the opportunities you have and don’t squander them. Education is not a right, it’s a privilege and people work harder than I would ever know to make ends meet. I was fortunate and he never let me forget it.
Be active in your community. Make it better and help those in need. Quietly and as needed and in ways you can whether it be food, money or a job.
Entrepreneurship is a test in perseverance and if everyone could do it, they would.
Match people’s skills to their role. They will be successful AND so will the business. I was going to kill someone carrying that tray and he knew itJ.
You’re forever a teacher and a student. I don’t know if he ever realized all he was teaching me nor did I realize I was learning it each and every day.
Always get the bride’s father to pay for the reception before the big day. They’re often too emotional or too drunk and dealing with money just makes it worseJ. Never end on a bad note.
These lessons seem so basic but I don’t know how long it would have taken me to learn them elsewhere. And honestly, I was barely old enough to understand everything I really learned until years later. I share these lessons now with my kids in an effort to help them grow into good people but you better believe I will be STRONGLY encouraging them to prove themselves in a service industry. It had such a role in my future. How interesting I am now an active community member and entrepreneur who earns a living in marketing and customer experience.
After each break I returned to college and pursued my career. He said I had so much to learn there which was true. But I hope he never underestimated the lessons that were taught every day in that special place. It helped me get to where I am today just as much as my formal education. Mastering these lessons make you a person people want to do business with. My Uncle Dan was so right.
Mike passed this week and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mark his life with the role he played in mine. Rest in peace Mike. You were one of a kind and I thank you.