EP 100 - Steve Simonson - Dedication, Determination And Hard Work Are The Keys To Success 

Dedication, Determination And Hard Work Are The Keys To Success

Today is another story time episode with host Steve Simonson. He shares some valuable lessons he learned as a paperboy working at a very young age and how it helped him become a successful entrepreneur today. Here are more gold nuggets you’ll love on today’s episode:
The real value of hard work.
Why you should do what you love and love what you do.
How to think in terms of abundance when earning money.
People are always responsible for their own behavior.

So, sit back and listen to today’s episode with Steve and be inspired by his Awesomer journey.

Steve:  00:05    Welcome to the Awesomers.com podcast. If you love to learn and if you're motivated to expand your mind and heck, if you desire to break through those traditional paradigms and find your own version of success, you are in the right place. Awesomers around the world are on a journey to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. We believe in paying it forward and we fundamentally try to live up to the Great Zig Ziglar quote where he said, you can have everything in your life you want. If you'll help enough other people, get what they want. It doesn't matter where you came from. It only matters where you're going. My name is Steve Simonson, and I hope you will join me on this awesomer journey.

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Steve:  01:13    You're listening to the Awesomers podcast. Hey Gang. Steve Simonson said I'm coming back to you again with another Awesomers.com podcast episode. And today is a very special episode. Number 100. That's right. 100 episodes everybody and just 100 days. And I have to say it's destroying my life. Uh Oh my gosh, it takes a long time. Uh, I do love it when I'm doing it, but I have to say that it is taken a ton of my time. So today, uh, is another story time with Steve a episode and I'm going to tell you about a lesson I learned a couple of lessons probably way back in the olden days. So take yourself back to the early eighties if you will. And for those of you millennials who weren't born yet, uh, know, look it up on wikipedia or whatever the relevant news source may be a, or maybe watch some of the old favorites like Ghostbusters or Die Hard to see how the eighties looked in real life.

Steve:  02:09    So anyway, in the early eighties, I don't remember exactly the timeframe, I'm going to say it was 1982 or 1983. I was a paper boy for the Stars and Stripes magazine. So you can imagine me, I'm at 12 or 13. I have to get up pretty early and by pretty early let me explain the papers with generally arrive by about 4:00 AM. And so I would be there when the truck arrived. Uh, I would, I lived on a fourth floor apartment. My father was in the military. We lived in military housing and it was a big high rise and I lived on the fourth floor, so I would look down and when the paper truck would arrive, I would uh, go down and I grabbed the papers and I actually, uh, I had somewhere around 400 houses on my route and they weren't houses again because it was kind of like a high rise apartments.

Steve:  03:04    It was all military as a, as a military paper called the Stars and Stripes by the way. And so it wasn't really 400 houses. I have to go to each individual house. You may go into a stairwell and that stairwell would have eight, I believe, um, apartments in it. And then I would stuff the newspaper into the mailbox for each of those. Whoever was a subscriber. Now in addition to getting up at 4:00 AM, I had to do it at 4:00 AM because, uh, I had school that I actually had to leave foqr by 6:00 AM. So within two hours I had to be out the door. Now I want to just call out to your attention that I was in Germany at the time and you know, the Stars and Stripes was, um, the military paper so that anybody who is a service member who get a US English speaking paper and part of my job was to deliver those papers by the way.

Steve:  03:58    I split half of the route with a um, uh, a fellow that I knew from Church and uh, he was from Ghana and he would do half of the route and I would do half of the route and basically I would get paid $1 for each paper that I would deliver over the course of everyday of the year. So every day of the month, everyday of the year, everyday a paper had to go. And of course Sundays were big papers and heavy days. So every single day I had to deliver a paper. And for the privilege of delivering that one paper, let's just call it 30 times in a month, I would get $1 at the end of the month. So if there was 400 on the route and we split it evenly with my buddy, he would get $200 and I would get $200. And as a 12 or 13 year old, I was rolling pretty heavy.

Steve:  04:46    Right? That's pretty serious money. I was able to buy a Walkman and again, millennials go look that up. But uh, I paid like $400 to have a little tiny, a cassette player essentially called the walkman from Sony` with headphones. And I thought it was the coolest cat on the block because nobody had ever walked around with such a tiny thing and just had the music beaming into your ears. So, uh, anyway, was, it was a hard job, but you know, it produced some reasonable income, especially for 12 or 13 year old. So one of the things that happens throughout the year is not only you have to deliver the paper every day, once a month I have to go collect the money in person and I put the money in envelopes or whatever. And then I give it to the paper. Uh, and by the way, I'm supposed to go out and sell further subscriptions, right?

Steve:  05:37    So man, talking about taking advantage of child labor, they really had quite a gig going on. Uh, so I'm supposed to be out there selling new subscriptions. I'm supposed to be out there collecting for the existing subscriptions and then I also have to deliver it, make sure every single one gets to its place every single day forever. So it was a big job, but I was, I was happy to do it and you know, I was a hard worker as a, as a young person and perhaps even as an older person as I am now. But that work ethic was instilled to me early on for my, from my parents. And so, you know, I would just kind of do it day in and day out and it, it would be a chore at times. And in fact, when I was sick I had to have my brothers and sisters help me out who are even younger than me and they would be out there hustling around these big heavy paper sacks and so forth.

Steve:  06:28    I'm not even sure if I paid them or gave them anything for it or they just helped out of the kindness of their heart or at least the threat of violence from my parents. Whatever it was that motivated them. Uh, I always appreciated that help if I was down for the count, uh, but most of the time I would say I probably got up and got it done all by myself. So we're going to take a quick break. When I come back, I'm going to talk about one of those Aha moments that I had as a paper boy in Germany in the early eighties. Will do that right after this break.

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Steve:  07:54    Okay everybody. We're back against Steve Simonson and I'm just sharing a little bit of my story time with Steve in this episode and if I reflect back on the story from time to time because it taught me lots of lessons. So first of all, the value of hard work shouldn't go unnoticed, right? The fact that a 12 or 13 year old can literally wake up every single day at four in the morning to deliver papers for two hours and then go to school at 6:00 AM. Uh, we, uh, we had to arrive by 6:30 and we had a transportation of that took about a half an hour to get to the English speaking high school. So every day I'm up at 4:00 AM, I'm doing the, you know, a paper out for a couple hours. Then I go to school, I do at school all day, come home and uh, you know, do the homework and carry on with the rest of my day.

Steve:  08:38    So it was a very tough schedule. So first of all, you know, young people have a lot of stuff that they can do and I think we underestimate what they can do in some ways at times. And I, you know, maybe it's because of my empathy or uh, but I, I don't make kids work that hard and my parents didn't make me work that hard in some ways. I chose to work that hard and part of it was to just earn a little bit of extra money, but it definitely taught me the value of hard work. Um, as I was going through and I was delivering the papers every single day, I would have time to kind of think because it became a very, almost autonomic response. Right. It was like I would go into a stairwell. I knew the stairwell, I knew out of eight slots I need to put four papers and these slots and then move onto the next one and I would just do that over and over and over and it would change slightly if you get a new subscriber, somebody drops off.

Steve:  09:33    But for the most part it stayed relatively consistent. And so I got to feel systemic about it and you know, when the papers would show up on time and then I would go do my thing, I could, my brain would even tune out and I would think about other things or I would think about, you know, the benefits of what I was going to achieve with the money I was earning. And some days I was, I'm sure I would probably just sit there and feel sorry for myself and go, oh, this sucks. I don't know why I have to do this, but I did it anyway. And that's a, that kind of reminds me of the, the Amazon philosophy about disagree and commit. So in Amazon, I think one of the most effective parts of that, our culture is this idea that, hey, we can, we can talk about a strategy, we can even debate different points of strategy.

Steve:  10:20    But at the end of the day, the, whoever the leader is going to make that decision. And even if you disagree, fine, you verbalized that you've disagreed, but you commit to whatever the solution is. One of that strategy is. So even though everyday I didn't love what I was doing, I, so I disagreed and kind of a way I still committed and I still got the job done. I didn't try to, you know, create problems for the, you know, the route. Um, and that's what happens all the time in corporate organizations. Somebody who's not feeling the love, somebody who's not feeling like they're being valued, they will often disagree. And then sabotage, which is like the worst. Right? And that's, that's when you have somebody in your organization who is actively disengaged and they are trying to hurt the company. Sometimes it's conscious, often the subconscious, whether they're just like, you know what I told him that was a bad idea and so I'm not going to help him or her with it at all.

Steve:  11:16    And if they asked for my help, I'll, you know, I'll give him facetime it lip service, but I'm not going to actually do anything to help. So I, I just, I really want to point out that this idea of disagree and commit is a really important philosophy. And I've had organization, I've had people that would either disagree and commit which is fine or they would disagree and they would create problems which is not fine. Right? And that's, that's something you can't have an organization so you have to take quick action to, to deal with that. And it reminds me of going back to that one of my axioms, I believe it's number six, do what needs done when it needs doing. This applies to a paper route. This applies to disagree and commit. It applies to all of these things. Now I want to want to carry it forward to a story or carry on with this story about the paper out because there's another lesson that I learned that was very, very important.

Steve:  12:10    So around Christmas time, the was the best time for a paper boy because I still would have to deliver. All the papers were on Christmas as you would expect. Uh, you know, people still want the news and so forth. But uh, I would also collected that time and the, the cost for the Stars and Stripes paper was $4 and fifty cents per month. Now occasionally people will give me a $5 bill and go, hey, keep the change kid. And you know, I was like, wow, that's a 50 percent increase on my income for that particular customer. Because out of that 4.50, as I mentioned earlier, I would only keep a dollar per month. So that means the paper itself had 3:50 to operate and do whatever they did. But the delivery guy got one of those dollars and so if they gave me an extra fifty cents as a tip man, I was living large.

Steve:  13:05    That is golden. And I'll be honest, as the collector, I felt I was getting the tip and I didn't pass it onto my subcontractor doing the other 200 pages. Maybe I was a greedy little punk, I don't know. But I felt like since I did all the collections and did all this subscription sales and still delivered my half that I was entitled. So there you go. Hashtag entitled Gen X. uh, so anyway, so around Christmas, as you might imagine, some people were even more generous. More often than not, they will give the five and say, hey, keep the change kid. By the way, that happened less than half of the time and the other months, but more than half the time in the Christmas time. And on rare occasion, somebody else will pull out even a bigger bill, hey man, here's a $10 bill, knock yourself out. Um, and so that was just like, you know, glory days were here again.

Steve:  13:55    So I definitely was my normally hated to go collect, you know, month to month. But during Christmas time, that was definitely the time that collection was made a little more sweet by getting a little extra something from each of the subscribers. Now we're going to take a quick break. When I come back, I'm going to tell you about a subscriber that, uh, that kind of got in my face and tried to tell me the way it was. And at 12 or 13 I had to figure out how to stand my ground and really was faced with that fight or flight question. And we're going to do it right after this break.

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Steve:  14:56    Okay, we're back again everybody and uh, it's me or a little buddy Steve Simonson, talking about, uh, one of my old paper route memories and where I learned a really important series of less than some of those shared along the way, but the most important one I'm coming to now. So as I mentioned before, the break I was collecting during the Christmas time route or the Christmas time, holiday time, whatever from everybody on the paper route. And um, you know, most of the time the people were, you know, hey, happy holidays, good. Here's a, you know, five bucks, keep the fifty cents are the two bits, whatever, uh, or they would say, um, you know, here's a $10 a knock yourself out, have a great, uh, you know, holiday kid. And you know, I appreciated that. And it made a big difference to somebody who only makes a buck for the entire month of delivery, plus collection, plus a whatever, a paper sales I try to do during the month.

Steve:  15:52    So I came to this one house and uh, I was a very professional young man and I would say, you know, uh, uh, you know, good evening, it's me Steve Simonson and I'm your paper boy and I'm here to collect for the Stars and Stripes for the month of December, January, whatever it was. I don't know if we collected a month in advance or how it worked, but I'm here to collect. And uh, and this lady, she was at the door and she says, she kind of just started in on me. She's like, well, hey, the papers bed late like three or four times this month. And in fairness to her, it had been late, but I told her, I said, yes ma'am, I understand, uh, the papers been late. But here's why. And I explained that, you know, by the time that, by the time I have to leave for school at 6:00 AM, if the papers aren't there, I have to leave and I do want to get back.

Steve:  16:41    That's the nature of going to school. If the paper truck's not there, you know, I have, I have another thing I have to do that school. Um, and so I apologized and I said, you know, I'm very sorry about that. And particularly during this, this time of year, we would get snow on occasion and the snow would slow the trucks down. Definitely much more than normal as you might expect. The trucks just simply can't drive as fast on the snow covered roads. So I said, you know, due to the snow and due to the late truck, as soon as I wake up from 4:00 AM to 6:00 AM, waiting for the truck the entire time when they're not there, I have to go to school. My apologies. But as soon as I get home from school, I run around and I deliver all those papers as quick as I possibly can.

Steve:  17:22    I am indeed very sorry for the delay and I wasn't, you know, trying to look for a tip or anything. I was just explaining the way it was and she just, she's like, well, I don't think I should have to pay and if you're not get delivered on time. And she just ram ram around, around and, and she just was digging into me and, and I mean it was not, it was not subtle. It was hardcore beaten down to 12 or 13 year old kid for delivering the paper late three or four times out of, you know, the entire year basically. And at one point I just remember this vividly, just one point, I had this Aha moment and in the light just went off in my head with a ding and I said I just, she would just ran, ran, ran, ran right in my face.

Steve:  18:09    And I was polite and I was taking it, but that, that moment happened with the Aha. And I just said, you know what ma'am? I just kind of put my hand up towards your face. I said, I understand if you don't want to pay, you don't have to pay, but I have a bad news for you. I have the only English speaking newspaper in the entire country and if you want it, you have to go through me. You don't want the paper, that's fine. You can go get it yourself at the store, but I'm the only way you're going to get personal delivery. You don't want to be on my route. You're off the route. And I turned to walk away and suddenly out of nowhere, like the husband jumps to the door, kind of brushes back the wife softly goes, hey kid, I don't know what the problem is, but uh, you know, we will pay.

Steve:  18:50    We have no problem paying. It gives me a 20 says keep the change. Don't worry about it. Sorry for the problems. Don't worry, you'll get no trouble for us. Right? This whole thing boiled down to I had something that she couldn't get without going through me. And so the lesson was, you know, I'm, I'm fine to be polite and I find to be professional, but if I'm going to be beaten down, I had to ask myself, is the juice worth the squeeze? And I, I don't think I use those words at that time, but that's my axiom. 14 is the juice worth the squeeze and it wasn't worth the squeeze. This woman was being mean. She was beaten down, you know, a kid essentially. But this kid luckily was able to get his mind right and, and, uh, and just realize, you know, what, this ain't worth it.

Steve:  19:35    So you know what customer, you're fired. And, and honestly that changed the whole dynamic, right? The husband leaves to the foreground and pays off the kid and you know, hey, you'll get no problem from us. This, that changed the entire dynamic. I could have stayed and gotten beaten down and said y'all going the paper for a month for free out of my own pocket. Like, you know, how is that fair? And so the moral of the story is, you know, first of all, I do put my name on it. That's another axiom of mine and I do want to be professional and I want to be accountable for what I deliver and when I'm, when I'm not delivering up to my standard or the standard that's expected, I take the hits for it and I explained the reasons. They're not bad reasons. If it snows and the truck's not there, I still was awake.

Steve:  20:23    I was still ready to go and I still did the job when I got home, but she was not satisfied with that. And so I just said, you know what, I'm tired of listening to this. I'm tired of getting beaten down. You're fired. To quote an old apprentice saying that's what my son used to say to me when he was a very young. "Dad. You're fired." And apparently I was watching the apprentice too much as a kid, as a young person. So anyway, my point is if you put your name on it and somebody still beating you down, figuring out if the juice is worth the squeeze and if it's not, just stopped doing it. You don't have to take abuse. You don't have to take, um, behaviors or be around behaviors that are either insulting or unnecessary and I've been exposed to all kinds of bad behaviors in my life and, and you know, in many ways I try to rationalize and say, okay, you know, this is where that person's coming from, let me be patient.

Steve:  21:20    But there's a point where that Aha moment just goes off. And my point with this lady, you know, it just went off, but it's like, you know what, I have the only English speaking newspaper in the entire country that I'm the only guy who delivers an English speaking paper in that particular area. You can't go anywhere else. You can go to the store and get it, but knock yourself out. That's going to cost her effort. And so I just, I had had it and it was a great lesson for me. I've never forgotten that lesson and I still even remember almost that visceral feeling when the Aha moment happened because, you know, for the first while I felt guilty and I felt ashamed at letting her down. And then over time it's like, I became like, you know, I explained what happened and you're still being mean to me.

Steve:  22:05    You're still beat me down. And then it got onto, you know what, I'm a, I'm not going to take this anymore. And uh, I don't care what it costs me, I don't need your subscription. In fact, I think I went on to tell her at some point, you're only worth $1 to me per month. I come here everyday and you're worth $1 to me and this is the abuse I have to take. Not In anymore. You're done. You're off the route. Don't pay. That's fine. And, uh, and that's when the husbands linked in with the solution. So my point is, you know, make sure the juice is worth the squeeze. If you're putting your name on it, then you should have nothing to be ashamed of. And it's okay to be patient. It's okay to be professional, but don't let it go beyond that. There are limits and people should be responsible for their own behaviors. I hope this was an instructive. I hope it was helpful and it certainly was a pivotal moment in my life and, uh, I'm happy to share it with all your listeners out there. Again, this has been episode number 100 very special episode just because it's a round number and, uh, it's a story time with Steve Episode. I hope you enjoyed it. We'll talk again soon.

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Steve:  23:33    Well, we've done it again, everybody. We have another episode of the Awesomers podcast ready for the world. Thank you for joining us and we hope that you've enjoyed our program today. Now's a good time to take a moment to subscribe, like, and share this podcast.

Steve:  23:46    Heck, you could even leave a review if you wanted. Awesomers around you will appreciate your help. It's only with your participation and sharing that we'll be able to achieve our goals. Our success is literally in your hands. Thank you again for joining us. We are at your service. Find out more about me. Steve Simonson our guests team and all the other Awesomers involved at Awesomers.com. Thank you again.