Here’s an inspiring tale about someone I think of as part of the Greatest Generation. He is a founding father of the Marek Company.
When I first hired on, the Mareks owned some properties that they generously allowed employees to enjoy during vacations. Very early one morning at the beginning of my career when my family and I were staying at one of the company’s properties at Circle Lake, northwest of Houston, Ralph Marek came to the door to offer my mother a basket full of fresh tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and okra.
“Welcome to Circle Lake,” he said. “Can you find a good use for these? I just picked them and I don’t want ’em to go bad.” He set them down and headed back to the garden.
I was impressed that one of the company’s founders picked his own vegetables—and that he brought them to an employee as a gift. It was then that my mother, affectionately known to everyone as “Grandma Dot,” gave me what she said would be the most important advice she would ever give me.
“Young man, don’t you ever think you are too good to get your hands dirty working because some day you might not have the ability to do so. You are blessed and you better appreciate those blessings!”
She went on to tell me that if I ever want to be a successful and respected boss that I would have to earn that respect from my peers. It starts with never asking someone else to do something that your boss asks you to do. By earning the reputation of a “can-do and will-do” person, you stand a good chance of moving up in the company—being a part of a winning team.
When all things are equal, the strongest work ethic will stand out far beyond brains and ability, she pointed out to me, adding that if I have those attributes and I don’t exercise them, then I have wasted what God had given me. “So, get your butt out there and help Mr. Marek pick vegetables right now.”
So I did—for most of the morning. Her message hit home.