I witnessed an absolute master at work this weekend.
He was extremely skilled, perspiring from great effort, dazzling and connecting with his audience. It was obvious: this young man was an artist.
You’ve probably seen someone like him. He’s standing on a street corner with a giant sign shaped like an arrow letting you know the furniture store is going out of business, or the falafel stand is celebrating Wacky Wednesday. These minimum-wage mobile advertisers weather the heat and cold where, I’m sure, time passes more slowly than anywhere else in the world.
I’ll admit I occasionally point out the arrow twirlers and remind my kids why they need to go to college.
But while sitting at a stoplight I noticed -- this was no ordinary sign twirler. He was a sign-spinning ninja, spectacularly skilled, zipping the sign clockwise and counterclockwise around his neck and tossing it high into the air like a helicopter while dancing with impressive hip hop swag.
I couldn’t take my eyes off him. I said, “Damn!,” out loud. This young man had taken a mundane, minimum-wage job and turned it into art.
As entrepreneurs, we’re all out on our corners, waving our signs, sweating through our clothes, breathing car exhaust, and spinning our hearts out for employees and customers. There are so many ways our jobs can go very wrong. Changing budgets, mismatched expectations, poor communication, shifting priorities. And that’s just Tuesday.
The sign spinner reminded me of what it feels like when I’m doing the job I love, getting lost in the flow of the moment and doing great work. Like when a customer needs something really critical and we read between the lines, leverage experience, and deliver. Not just a good solution, a perfect solution. It feels... amazing.
Here on the corner was a kindred spirit, exceeding all expectations. I finished my shopping and there he was, hours later, still giving 200 percent. So I pulled over, dug into my wallet for a sizeable bill, rolled down the window and yelled to him. I was trying to close the gap between that minimum wage he was making and the art and joy he was sharing. He bounded over, let out a surprised “Whoa! Thank you!” and said he wished he could give me a hug.
We need to stop and recognize hard work and passion in all forms.
And to all the hopeful college graduates flooding the job market this month: Turn your work into your own personal art form, and spin your way to success.