Actions Part 2: The Little Mentor

In my last post, I noted a recent Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce event where I spoke to a group of young business leaders about the “cheapness of talk” and how the more you observe the actions of others, the more you really learn. Here is installment 2 regarding my very young “teacher.”

My son Gavin is 7 and if you know any boy or girl that age, you understand that they don’t walk anywhere. It’s like their feet are spring loaded. No matter where we go (except the bus stop on Monday mornings), the kid is like a whirling dervish. He doesn’t walk a straight line – ever. He spins around, talking excitedly while doing a kind of a half-skip-hop thing on the way to his next great adventure.

He also is always looking up, and not just because—like most youngsters—he is surrounded by tree-like adults. As we go from A to B, whether walking to my car, to a neighbor’s, or to a practice he is constantly shouting out with excitement something along the lines of, “that bird is looking at me!” or “Oh, look at the sun!” or “Look at those leaves, I like the orange ones!”

I love watching Gavin and being around his energy (unless it’s early mornings on Saturday!). Often, I think of my little blonde tornado in context of what I observe in most building lobbies, mine included, during the workweek. On the whole, what I see is this: a literal death march, complete with sullen faces belonging to masses of people who are slowly shuffling to some place where they just don’t want to be.

Look folks, I’m a realist and understand that every day isn’t beach blanket bingo. Work can be challenging and life is full of ups and downs. That being said, energy begets energy and keeping your chin up and a bounce in your step is, in my mind, one of the great secrets of life. As an entrepreneur, it’s crucial to keep this attitude unless you’d like a company of zombies who will quickly follow your “lead” literally and figuratively.

I’ve been known to encourage AgileCat employees to take a quick elevator ride to our lobby and make their own observations, and they come away with a view of this dirge as consistent as my own. If anything, watching this lame lobby limp is a reinforcement that we are lucky to enjoy what we do, but most importantly – it’s all in the approach that makes our creative product what it is.

This march of the pissed penguins carries itself in the elevator naturally. Lots of sighing, lots of complaining, and when really lucky (note: sarcasm), you might get to ride with the brave souls who courageously puffed away outside the building in 0 degree weather. This group is typically the most upset with something or other at work. The irony is palpable.

I think about the little teacher and try to keep that spring in my step, because actions speak loudest and every step is an opportunity to influence someone in your presence.

– P. Madden, Top Cat