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I was 12 years old when I took my first job as a milk delivery boy. It was the best-paying job in my small working class village of Nibe, Denmark, because no one my age wanted to get up at 5 a.m. to do heavy labor. I would ride my bicycle over to the village square where I would meet the facility manager and help load the glass bottles and heavy steel cartons of milk into the truck.
This story first appeared in the September 9, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Having a job afforded me the opportunity to spoil my family with gifts, contribute to the household and save money. Because I was so customer-service oriented, I earned extra tips. Ultimately, the money I saved in tips helped take me out of the small village and into the big city of Copenhagen, the first of many big cities that I lived in.
I enjoyed so many aspects of my milk job, but the best part was the adrenaline rush I got from waking up early, hopping on my bicycle and racing from house to house on a flatbed truck delivering milk. Since my delivery route ended at 7:30 a.m. and school started at 8, I would always arrive at school with so much energy. I carry the practice of starting my day off with exercise into my life today. Every morning, I wake up early and exercise on the parallel bars and gymnastics rings in my backyard. It gives me the perfect amount of energy before I start my work day.
Being a milk delivery boy taught me so many lessons that I took into my adulthood. (1) It was all about building relationships with my customers. I wouldn’t just ring the doorbell, collect empty bottles and deliver milk. I would greet people by Mr. or Mrs., memorize their order and ask how their children were doing.
(2) It was about my customers feeling happy with my service. I’ve always strived to make people feel their best and when they feel their best because of something I helped them with, it is that much more fulfilling. (3) I learned the true value of hard work and a healthy competitive spirit, focus, passion and discipline.
I still carry my dedication and work ethic into everything I do. It amazes me to think how much my first job has shaped the man I am today.