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Cleaning the Corner of the Classroom

03/21/2014

My first Entrepreneurship teacher when I was going to Sac State would tell us to “clean the corner of the classroom.” It was something he told us on the very first day of class, and it was his way of explaining the Entrepreneurial spirit – aside from the traditional definition of “risk taker.”

What Dr. Hatton meant was that when the teacher gives you the assignment of cleaning the corner of the classroom, you shouldn’t just clean the corner of the classroom. You may have the most beautiful corner when you’re done, but where exactly does the “corner” end? Isn’t the corner attached to the wall? What about the floor? We can probably get away with not detailing the ceiling if it’s too high and we don’t have access to a ladder… But really, the corner of the room is a part of the whole room, and although the assignment was just to clean the corner you really should just clean the whole room. It impresses people.

Earlier this week I wrote a post about Looking Professional in an Unprofessional World, and this post follows a similar theme: do more than is expected of you because it really does impress people. When my Café manager tells me to load the pastry case, I don’t just go fetch the frozen food and put it in the case. I plate it nicely, put the proper expiration date on the little sticker, and I bake anything that I need to. I do the whole job. If I get a really needy customer I start all of their food orders and start their first drink before calling a coworker from another task. Usually that other person is doing something important, so that little extra time helps them out a ton.

But also, being a thorough, thoughtful person makes you look attractive to management. People who always are where they need to be, stay busy doing not just what needs to be done but also what should be done, and regularly go above and beyond the call of duty are the people who tend to get promotions. Subtly and in an un-egotistical manner call attention to your extra work so nobody else can take credit for it, and you will be sure to impress! Management like people who are on it! Just… be sure to do the required part first. Nobody likes it when someone is off doing who-knows-what and the required work isn’t getting done. Having been the person needing to chase after wandering wayward managers before, it’s no fun for other people if you can’t at least do the original task.

For example, I was given the task of cleaning the sink at my last café job. I did a great job and we were slow, so I decided to clean the back splash, which was disgusting. That’s when I noticed that some dishes needed to be put away. Then I decided to re-organize the shelves because I couldn’t figure out where several items would fit. Then, just to be thorough, I swept and mopped the floor. By the time I was finished the room sparkled, and I was the only peon not sent home early due to lack of business! Also, the next semester, I was promoted to Supervisor, though that decision was probably unrelated.

But I promise, the extra work, time, and effort is worth it! Haven’t you noticed? When was a time you did something extra – cleaned the whole classroom instead of just a corner of it – and received praise?

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