Twelve Things We Should Teach Children About Work

Ok, we don’t place 3-year-olds in jobs at BarryStaff. But we thought you might enjoy these musings from one father of a toddler.

By Dharmesh Shah (CTO at Hubspot)

My son turned 3 recently. I know it’s a bit early to teach him about business and life lessons — but it’s never too early to start thinking about it. And besides, he’s already starting to show entrepreneurial tendencies — he hates not knowing how to do things, and he never gives up.

 1. Gather knowledge… but also gather knowledgeable people.
You can’t know everything. But you can know enough smart people that together collectively know most of what you need to know.
Work hard on getting smarter. Work harder on getting smart people on your side.
Together, you will be able to do almost anything.

 2. The memory of work disappears like the memory of pain – all anyone remembers are results.
Experience is valuable – to you. Experience yields skill and skill helps you do things and get results. These results are what other people care really care about.
Focus on racking up achievements, not just years of service.

 3. Take responsibility for outcomes.
Occasionally someone will intentionally try to screw you, but a lot more often you’ll do things to screw yourself. Learn to take responsibility when something doesn’t go well… and then to immediately start thinking of ways you will do better next time.

 4. Share credit for accomplishments.
Most of your great accomplishments will be the result of both your efforts and those of others. Learn to recognize this — and share the credit.
You will also find that..
The more you are willing to share credit for great accomplishments, the more you will achieve great things.

 5. Celebrate your achievements, then move on.
When you achieve something, it’s important to take a moment, reflect — and even celebrate sometimes. But, don’t bask too long in the glow of success. Be gracious, be appreciative, be thankful… but always feel you could do even better.

 6. Don’t expect life to be fair. Life just is.
You will often think “That’s just not fair…” especially when you didn’t get your way or things didn’t turn out like you hoped.
You should always treat people fairly. You should expect to be treated fairly. But don’t be surprised when you aren’t treated fairly.
Never expect life to be fair. To paraphrase Yoda, “Do or not do. There is no fair.”   You may not always receive what you put in, but roughly speaking the more you put in the more you will receive. Which is fair enough.

 7. See ‘boring’ as a springboard to success.
What appears to be the boring thing to do is almost always the responsible thing to do. What seems like drudgery actually builds the foundation for success. The people who achieve the most do a lot more of the boring stuff.
Routine, rigor, attention to detail, chugging away day after day… those are the path to eventual success. Elite athletes? They’ve put in thousands of hours working on fundamentals. Elite entertainers? They’ve put in thousands of hours of practice.
Successful businesspeople? They’ve put in thousands of hours of effort and hard, often tedious work.
Do the tedious, mundane, “ordinary” stuff better than anyone else – that’s what will make you great.

 8. Don’t think you’ll always get a trophy.
Everyone doesn’t deserve recognition. Everyone doesn’t deserve praise. We don’t all deserve awards.
Think of it this way: Do you praise everyone you know?
If you want a trophy, earn a trophy.
You’ll enjoy it a lot more than any of those participation trophies you tossed in your closet.

 9. Don’t expect someone else to boost your self esteem.
No one will automatically believe in you. Why should they if you haven’t done anything yet?
If you want to feel great about yourself, achieve something great. In the meantime, use any feelings of inadequacy to make you work harder. Instead of complaining, put your head down, work hard and prove everyone wrong.
Why do you think so many “outcasts” wind up being so successful? They have something to prove.
Go prove yourself – especially to yourself.

 10. Understand that amazing overnight success is amazingly rare. And overrated.
As Mark Cuban says, everyone envies the overnight successes, but no one envies the five years in the garage that led to “overnight” success.
And even if you could strike gold in a few months, are you prepared to manage that gold? Early struggles, effort, and desperation forms a valuable foundation that gives you the skills to maintain long-term success – and gives you the fortitude to handle adversity.
Because there will always be adversity.

11. Know when to stand-out and when to fit in.
School was in part a journey of discovery and exploration. (That’s why you got to take electives.) School was designed to help you figure out who you are.
School’s out. No one will help you find yourself. They want to find out how you can help them.
Learn to be part of a team and to fit in when necessary. Once you do, the people around you will be more than happy for your individuality to start shining through.

 12. Count yourself lucky to have 3 or 4 great friends.
Social networks are fun, but your real friends are the people who will take your calls at 4 in the morning. And actually listen to you.
And actually help you.
Work hard to find them. Work harder to keep them.



During job interviews, employers will try to gather as much information about you as possible, mostly through perfectly legal questioning, but sometimes through simple yet illegal questions. It’s up to the interviewee to recognize these questions for what they are.

Any questions that reveal your age, race, national origin, gender, religion, marital status and sexual orientation are off-limits.

“State and federal laws make discrimination based on certain protected categories, such as national origin, citizenship, age, marital status, disabilities, arrest and conviction record, military discharge status, race, gender or pregnancy status, illegal,” Lori Adelson, a labor and employment attorney and partner with law firm Arnstein & Lehr, tells Business Insider. “Any question that asks a candidate to reveal information about such topics without the question having a job-related basis will violate the various state and federal discrimination laws.

“However, if the employer states questions so that they directly relate to specific occupational qualifications, then the questions may be legitimate. Clearly, the intent behind the question needs to be examined.”

If you are asked any inappropriate questions, Adelson advises not to lie, but, instead, politely decline to answer. “Could they not give you a job because of that? Sure. But if they do, they would be doing exactly what they’re not supposed to do.”

We compiled the following illegal interview questions that are often mistaken as appropriate from Adelson and Joan K. Ustin & Associates, a consultant firm specializing in human resources and organization development.

1. Have you ever been arrested?
An employer can’t legally ask you about your arrest record, but they can ask if you’ve ever been convicted of a crime. Depending on the state, a conviction record shouldn’t automatically disqualify you for employment unless it substantially relates to your job. For example, if you’ve been convicted of statutory rape and you’re applying for a teaching position, you will probably not get the job.

2. Are you married?
Although the interviewer may ask you this question to see how much time you’d be able to commit to your job, it’s illegal because it reveals your marital status and can also reveal your sexual orientation.

3. What religious holidays do you practice?
Employers may want to ask you this to see if your lifestyle interferes with work schedules, but this question reveals your religion and that’s illegal. They can ask you if you’re available to work on Sundays.

4. Do you have children?
It is unlawful to deny someone employment if they have children or if they are planning on having children in the future. If the employer wants to find out how committed you will be to your job, they should ask questions about your work. For example, “What hours can you work?” or “Do you have responsibilities other than work that will interfere with specific job requirements such as traveling?”

5. What country are you from?
If you have an accent, this may seem like an innocent question, but it’s illegal because it involves your national origin. Employers can’t legally inquire about your nationality, but they can ask if you’re authorized to work in a certain country.

6. Is English your first language?
It’s not the employers’ lawful right to know whether a language is your first language. In order to find out language proficiency, employers can ask you what other languages you read, speak or write fluently.

7. Do you have any outstanding debt?
Employers must have permission before asking about your credit history. Similar to a criminal background history, they can’t disqualify you from employment unless it directly affects your ability to perform the position you’re interviewing for. Furthermore, they can’t ask you how well you balance your personal finances or inquire about you owning property.

8. Do you socially drink?
Employers cannot ask about your drinking habits, because it violates the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. For example, if you’re a recovering alcoholic, treatment of alcoholism is protected under this act, and you don’t have to disclose any disability information before landing an official job offer.

9. When was the last time you used illegal drugs?
It’s illegal for employers to ask you about past drug addiction, but they can ask you if you’re currently using illegal drugs. A person who is currently using drugs is not protected under ADA. For example, an employer may ask you: “Do you currently use illegal drugs? What illegal drugs have you used in the past six months?”

10. How long have you been working?
This question allows employers to guess your age, which is unlawful. Similarly, they can’t ask you what year you graduated from high school or college or even your birthday. However, they can ask you how long you’ve been working in a certain industry.

11. What type of discharge did you receive in the military?
This is not appropriate for the interviewer to ask you, but they can ask what type of education, training or work experience you’ve received while in the military.



Success With a Moral Compass

Nothing worthwhile in life comes easy. You will never see success without hard work, determination and the ability to make tough decisions. Sometimes you have to be ruthless for the sake of the company, your employees and, of course, yourself.

But it’s equally as important to have a strong moral code and to conduct yourself in an honorable, honest and forthright manner. A reputation for fair play and integrity is priceless. Here are some principles that I have embraced while building three successful companies—with the third, RadiumOne, hopefully on its path to billion-dollar status.

Put Family First

Never lose sight of where you came from. Honor and respect the sacrifices of your family, especially your parents and grandparents, when they were raising you. It’s all too easy when you’re working day and night chasing your business vision to let your home life slide into second place. Try as hard as you can to find the right balance. Time spent away from your loved ones can never be regained.

Keep Your Promises

If you say you’re going to do something — do it. It doesn’t matter how big or how small at the end of the day you will be judged on whether you kept your promises or not. When your customers know that they can count on your word they will remain loyal customers, and refer others to you. You want people to know that you are true to your word — always.

Embrace Your Mistakes

Acknowledge your decisions that haven’t worked out. That’s the first step towards learning from them so you don’t make the same mistake again — and your company will flourish as a result. The ability to bounce back after a setback or mistake is the single most important trait an entrepreneurial venture can possess.

Don’t Be a Whiner

Many people can’t help but feel sorry for themselves if something doesn’t go their way. They feel the world is against them. They complain openly to all of their colleagues or anyone who will care to listen. This is a trait to be avoided at all costs. In business and in life, in general, you never want to be viewed as a victim. Dust yourself off and move forward.

Develop a Thick Skin

The more successful you become, the more visible you become. And that often makes you a target. Sometimes it’s unscrupulous competition (or business partners!). Sometimes it’s a personal relationship that tests your honor and integrity. You can’t afford to let the “slings and arrows” get to you. All you can do is continue to lead your life in an honorable way and hold your head high. If you come from a place of authenticity and always protect your integrity, you will always walk away unscathed.

Be Generous

There’s one key area where any entrepreneur or business leader should not be stingy. And that’s when it comes to rewarding your executive team and others who work with you or for you. I’ve always believed in being generous on this score. If you want the most talented and dedicated people on your team they need to know that they are appreciated and are compensated accordingly.

Take a Break

When you’re passionate about your business dream and striving to accomplish it—guess what? You can all too often forget about other things in life. Like having dinner. Enough sleep. And exercising. I know because I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I’ve survived on fast food and slept in the office. All the more reason for me now to stress that you should take a break, now and then. Enjoy the company of family and friends. Go for a walk. Have a power nap. Eat a decent lunch. Making the time for any kind of break that will clear your head and improve your performance. You’re of little use to your organization when you’re running on empty.

Share the Dream

Make a habit of talking to others about your dreams and your goals. Talk to your family, friends and employees. And talk to other entrepreneurs about their similar passions. Sharing bold out-of-the-box ideas and exchanging stories about obstacles you’ve hurdled along the way generates even greater conviction and determination. It is a powerful, motivating force and should be used as reinforcement that you are making positive contributions to society.

Do the Right Thing

Whatever you do in business and in life keep your moral compass on track. Don’t ever compromise it. Your integrity is more important than your bank balance. Karma also has a weird way of showing up — when you least expect it. There will be many occasions when you might be tempted to take a short cut or when something that is borderline is presented to you. Make a decision because it’s the right and decent thing to do. Make a decision knowing that it’s one you can justify — to your family, kids or loved ones. After all, they make us want to be the best possible version of ourselves and are the main reason we strive to be successful.

A legacy is defined by the actions we live by and never by any currency we acquire.

How to Be Successful by Not Checking Email and Working Out at Lunch

David Morken practically sparkles with energy, even over the phone. Morken is Co-founder and CEO of Bandwidth, a 15-year-old company that focuses on IP-based communication technology – and is proud of the fact that they’re “challenging the standards of old telecom” in everything they do. Their stated mission is to unlock remarkable value for our customers – and, as I discovered when I spoke to him, Morken is convinced that a big part of doing that involves ‘unlocking remarkable value’ for their employees: making Bandwidth a place that supports employees’ body, mind and spirit.

One Bandwidth policy supports all three: the company has (and enforces) a total embargo on email to and from the company during vacation. That is, when you’re on vacation, you may not communicate with the company and they may not communicate with you. And to make sure the policy is followed to the T: when someone goes on vacation, all the folks he or she would ordinarily communicate with (employees, partners, boss, etc.) get an email, saying “so-and-so is on vacation. If he or she contacts you for any reason, please let us know.”

While it may sound a little draconian, it means that folks generally only break the rule once: getting a phone call from the CEO reconfirming that you’re on vacation and shouldn’t be emailing anybody seems to convince everyone that the policy is real. And, according to Morken, while lots of people have told him it’s difficult at first, no one has ever told him they think it’s a bad idea.

But what about the fast-charging, micromanaging execs who just say, “OK, then, I’ll stop taking vacation so I can stay on top of everything?” No dice: another Bandwidth policy is that you have to take all your vacation days, and you have to take them in the year you get them (no rolling over to never-never year).

The results? Employees experience vacations as vacations: rejuvenation, reconnection and relaxation. And managers put more attention toward developing their folks – because their folks can’t call them when there’s an emergency during their absence; they have to be willing and able to handle it themselves. Finally, Morken says, it makes managers more thoughtful about preparing for vacation: if you really can’t give added instructions or sort things out while you’re gone, it’s essential to get as much clarity as possible beforehand about what’s supposed to happen when you’re not there. He’s convinced that this has impact outside of vacation time, as well: that the increased clarity and trust ‘leak’ out into employees’ interactions every day.

Then there are the 90-minute lunches.
This part is voluntary vs mandatory, but it’s still an important aspect of the culture. Any employee can take a (paid) one-and-a-half-hour lunch to pursue fitness. Not only will Bandwidth pay you for the time, they’ll pay your gym membership, shuttle you to the gym, provide access to a personal trainer, and offer you a comprehensive “know and go” assessment of your physical condition that gives you a foundation of information for getting in better shape.

It’s a big investment for a relatively small (400 employee) company – so what’s the payoff? Morken believes that because everyone has limited time outside of work to be a significant other, a parent, a friend, or to pursue other non-work passions, making time for fitness during work hours makes it more likely that employees will both get and stay fit, and have time to focus on the non-work parts of their lives – improving both morale and productivity.

These unusual policies seem to be paying off in terms of business results: Bandwidth is set to make $150M this year – up about 20% from last year – and they anticipate $200M in profitable revenues next year.

I love hearing about companies and executive teams that are willing to do more than just talk about creating a culture focused on supporting people to be their best: who are willing to put dollars into it and create policies that support it.