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Operations / Management And Training
July 2014 Let's Talk Shop

Giving And Taking Advice

Interaction between industry old-timers and newcomers benefits everyone.

July 06, 2014
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For those just starting out in this marvelous industry, this article is for you.

Though right now you may not be thinking of the cleaning industry as something “marvelous.”

It’s also for those of you in the middle or closer to the end of your journey who may not remember what it was like just starting out.

Reaching back into your past can help you reach out to new employees who could benefit from your words of wisdom.

Few of us old-timers started out with a plan to work in cleaning.

We fell into it as a summer job or to put ourselves through college.

Once graduated — possibly with young families to support — we may have wanted to hang onto the income while waiting for that “better” opportunity.

But along the way, something amazing happened.

Cleaning grew from a job to an industry, and our work grew in scope and importance.

Today, the industry employs everyone from cleaners to MBAs with knowledge that spans from cleaning equipment and chemicals to software.

But, as with any industry, newcomers — especially those just out of college — may wonder if the rewards are worth the demands.

Take the situation of Bill and Calvin.

Both worked for a cleaning supplies and chemicals distributor.

Calvin was the new kid in town.

Just 25, he’d graduated a year earlier with a degree in business administration.

His uncle was in the purchasing department at a large local university and helped Calvin land a job with the distributorship.

Bill had been in the cleaning business for over 35 years, the last 17 working in sales, and was planning to retire by the end of the year.

One night as Bill was readying to leave, he noticed Calvin still working at his desk.

 “Shouldn’t you be getting home to that wife and beautiful new baby?” he asked him.

“I can’t,” Calvin told him. “Too much work.”

“So, how’s the cleaning profession treating you these days?” Bill asked, pretty much knowing the answer.

“It sucks. I don’t know how much longer I can do this. I didn’t go to college to sell toilet bowl cleaner.”

Bill suggested they grab a cup of coffee.

Calvin worried that he didn’t have the time, but Bill assured him it would be well worth it.

An hour later, when Bill got up to leave, Calvin gave him a bear hug and thanked him for his great advice.

Advice From an Old-Timer

My greatest enjoyment in the cleaning profession has been the people I have met along the way.

As a younger man, many others helped me navigate the world of work.

I often wish I had been smarter back then and more attentive to their advice.

Like this advice Bill gave to Calvin.

Stay Positive

The world is full of negative messages and people.

Be sure to surround yourself with optimistic messages and people every day.

Read books or listen to music that will help you create a positive framework in your life and your work.

Let Others Help You

Being a rugged individual is overrated.

A team player, willing to give as well as receive, can get much farther in life.

Many rewards and opportunities present themselves throughout our lifetimes.

Don’t let fear or pride keep you from taking advantage of them.

It’s Only Work

It’s easy to get caught up in the world of work and pay too little attention to other aspects of our lives.

Usually the people closest to us are the ones we neglect the most.

Money and prestige are nice, but your relationships with your friends and family are the real treasures in life.


Too much of anything can get you in trouble.

It is important to take inventory of your goals and priorities and make sure that one is not dominating your life at the expense of another.

Be sure to have good friends or a mentor who can let you know if you’re headed off the cliff.

Do What’s Right

The workplace can be difficult.

Sometimes frustration can lead to desperation, and we may be tempted to look for shortcuts to get the job done.

In the short term these solutions may help, but in the long term those shortcuts will catch up to you.

Lead your life inside and outside of the office with integrity.

You’ll sleep easier at night and won’t have to be constantly looking over your shoulder.

Finally, make sure you interact with the people you work with.

If you’re an old-timer, like Bill, don’t be stingy with your knowledge.

If you’re new, realize that you don’t have all the answers and that listening to someone else may just provide the very help you need at the time.

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