The Four Words You Will Never Say Again in Business: That’s Not My Job
If you ever answer someone important with “That’s Not My Job” you will be RIGHT! It won’t be your job when you’re terminated for being unimportant or useless.
Those words are banned if you’re an entrepreneur, and even if you have a salary. If those words ever come out of your mouth, don’t expect to go very far. It’s as simple as that. Your job is to put food in your stomach. Your job is to ensure that your operation is successful. Your job is to do whatever the fuck you need to do to make that happen.
That is the path of the achiever. He goes over and above. He doesn’t lose money and opportunities by being snotty. Of course the division of labor is important. Of course you shouldn’t always try to do everything. Of course you need to decide what is legitimately worth your time, not to waste time on time wasting things. But when push comes to shove and you have a real problem or a real opportunity, you do everything you can to handle it. I don’t care if you’re dealing with clients or you’re a salary employee, if you would ever like to move beyond your current position, you need to go beyond what you think is your job description.
This is about becoming incredibly important and valuable. How many people can your employer find to meet your job description? How many professionals can your clients find to satisfactorily satisfy their needs? Now, if you have an incredible work ethic and you consistently go above and beyond to blow them all away, how scared would they be to lose you? How much “in demand” will you be? How much more leverage will you have to ensure you receive more money? How much will your reputation grow? How much will your skills grow? How much will your competence and your confidence grow? How much more productive will you become? How much farther will you go with your life?
The answers depend in large part to how willing you are to never again say “That’s not my job”.
There’s so many examples:
I know a very very talented musician who didn’t know anyone and had no work when he came to this country. I told him to make some calls and get some gigs, and find some studio work. He actually said “That’s not my job. That’s for a manager to do, I’m a musician.” WHAT THE FUCK? Would you like to have some food to eat?
I’ve seen many companies lose important valuable contract renewals because they refused to do something fairly small and insignificant, responding that it’s not in the current contract and they would like to manage expectations accordingly going forward.
Even prostitutes know that if they want to earn more, they can’t say “that’s not my job”.
As a young Commercial Real Estate Broker several years ago, I was closing a sale of an Auto Repair Center in Orange County that was leased to a large name tenant. The Buyer: a sweet elderly lady who wants to pass along some stable no headache income to her now grown children. The Seller: a very tough abrasive powerful Israeli with a Real Estate empire. Two days before we were set to close (one day before funding), the buyer realizes she made a silly math mistake and is short $25,000 of the closing costs. If this doesn’t close on time, the seller will be upset, the lender will be held up and get suspicious of the buyer, and I’ll have a mess. So I immediately loaned the nice older lady $25,000 out of my pocket. And I acted like it’s no big deal. She didn’t know it, but the truth was I was 23 at the time and my whole savings then was $27,000; all of a sudden I don’t have enough to make my next credit card payment, my next car payment, etc. That was not supposed to be my job to put myself in that position. But it got the deal closed. She paid me back when she received rents from her other buildings the next month. My seller was happy he sold his property on time so his plans weren’t delayed. And my buyer, well I cemented her appreciation and trust in me. I can’t tell you how many times she later introduced me to people as the most trustworthy broker she knows, raising her voice to say “He loaned me $25,000 once so I could close my deal on time, and I’ll never forget it.”
One of the businesses I now own is a parking company. As I’ve said before, I knew nothing and cared nothing about parking when I started it, but my partner has a long impressive history in parking, so I agreed to get involved. Officially my role is to bring in business. His role is to manage the business I bring in. I don’t get involved with management and onsite operations. However, that doesn’t prevent restaurant owners from calling me to yell if there’s an issue. And it didn’t take long after we began the company before one such fateful Saturday night while I’m out with friends, when I get a furious call from an owner of a sports bar, chewing me out because there are not enough valet attendants and there’s a big game that night. So I left my friends, drove across the city to find out that our 8 valets weren’t enough to handle the rush of roughly 400+ cars we parked that night. Without hesitating I started parking and retrieving cars to help out. It had rained earlier, so the ground was wet, and my nice shoes were stepping into puddles as I ran, splashing dirty water and leaving white spots on my nicer black clothes. My employees were surprised to see that I wasn’t pretentious about this, I was willing to do actual labor, just as they were, and I was running faster than any of them. People kept asking me “are you really a valet?” when I brought back their cars. This cemented my employees understanding of what I expect the work ethic to be at this company. The owner knew I’m taking his sports bar seriously. I also gained a better understanding of what’s going on with my operation. And in the end everything went fine and the wait wasn’t too bad (certainly better than most valets in Hollywood). I didn’t tell the owner to chill the fuck out, this isn’t my responsibility. I didn’t tell my business partner “this is not my job, you deal with it”. I didn’t tell everyone “I’m busy, those drunk sports bar losers can wait a couple extra minutes for their cars”. I just did what I could to take care of it. If I wasn’t willing to, what would distinguish my business?
Recently my parking company began a great new location at a popular elegant restaurant lounge. Soon after we started the Owner asked us to clean up the street along the whole block and trim the plants and cut out the weeds. Come again? We’re a parking company. We park cars. We’re not gardeners and street sweepers. But this is a great contract, and it was so hard for me to get. So fuck it, I went and bought a shovel. When I gave it to an employee, he asked “Are you serious? I’m not a street sweeper.” I responded “This location brings in the best tips. Whoever wants to work here must sweep the street and clean up the weeds. Decide where you want to be.” He decided to take the shovel. And this location has since turned out fantastic for our company.
It’s what you do in difficult and unusual situations that distinguishes you, letting people know who you are and what you’re about. When things get harder and more is asked of you, don’t complain. This can be good news. This is your time to shine. You are being given a stage and a microphone and everyone is watching. Are you going to say, “I would like to manage expectations here, guys this really isn’t my job”. No. Fuck no. You’re a hustler. You’re a maniac. Go shock them all and show them what you’re gonna do.
I want to leave you with a short story
That’s Not My Job
This is a story told about four people named, Somebody, Everybody, Anybody and Nobody.
There was one important job to be done.
Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about it because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it. Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.
It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.
Who needs those assholes? The important and successful people in this world are the ones who DO