The HR Juggler

Day 4: Stories and Steaks

Posted on: December 4, 2013

2013day4

Day 4’s post is by Andrew Jacobs, who you can find and follow on Twitter @AndrewJacobsLD. I don’t know Andrew well…and I love the insight that his post gives into the variety of different roles that he has held.

Artwork for today (and every day!) is provided by the brilliant Simon Heath.

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Presents…check.

Food…check.

Decorations…check.

And so it begins, the inexorable list of activities that you put in place for Christmas. You get the idea from the holidays in the past; those moments with family gone that mean you pause and reflect.

So pull up a chair for 5 minutes with me while I pause and reflect.

I remember helping to launch the Sinclair C5 electric car. That doesn’t usually sit high on my CV as it wasn’t a resounding success.

No really.

It wasn’t. It was a fun experience though with some great people who believed in what they were doing. It just liked to pause a lot on its own.

More fun was being a children’s entertainer. A 3 foot foam head, Royal Mail uniform, a stuffed cat and I became Postman Pat for children’s parties. Playing hide and seek with two dozen 5 year olds in a village hall prepares you for fatherhood. That was 20+years ago – 5 years ago I was a Santa in a Department Store grotto and remembered why Christmas is magical for children. In our desire to know we forget how innocence can cause so much delight.

I enjoyed being a butcher. Cold and hard work in a windowless room for up to 12 hours a day meant you had to be authentic – no hiding places. I’ve got good knives and good knife skills as a result and I learnt a lot about which meats offer best value. Wasn’t much fun with a girlfriend who was vegetarian at the time but has helped me become a pretty decent cook (if I don’t mind saying so myself).

Arranging housing repossessions taught me a lot about compassion and priorities. It also touched me deeply. I realised that it’s not always about the money – it’s about the life we lead. It also gave me a thick skin. Scared people react differently. It did help when I did stand up comedy for a while. A very short while – I learnt I’m not that funny.

That skill of being able to talk with complete strangers helped when I sold cars. I learnt a lot about needs and wants, why people buy and the remorse when you buy the ‘wrong’ thing. That talking skill didn’t help so much when I sold menswear; men didn’t like to shop then, let alone talk to someone while they were doing it. I learnt a lot about influence and negotiation in that role. That and how to fold jumpers.

Being a cashier was too routine for me but counting a quarter of a million quid by hand was a different experience. It changed my thoughts about money again – money as a tool. Spotting fraud livened the days, learning the extent of my trust and how far people would push it. I took my first steps in management there too; steep curves, not many plateaux.

The list above contains lots of indoor jobs.

For variety what about delivering papers and directories? Different experiences entirely. I learnt a lot about dressing for the weather. Being a pools man was interesting too. Being invited to become a regular part of people’s lives through a number of years was humbling. Being recognised by a syndicate when they won £300k a week before Christmas was especially nice – particularly with a significant tip.

Reading back through it’s an eclectic mix. A mix that doesn’t mention what I do now. Looking back, this work history seems chaotic, confused, complex. At the time it was just what I did. I’m reminded of a hundred different incidents and events, all great stories.

Stories. They’re what bind us together and ground us.

Have a good Christmas but don’t spend too long on your lists – spend time with the people who will add to your stories.

2 Responses to "Day 4: Stories and Steaks"

Dear Andrew, wow, what a heartwarming story, didn’t expect that at all and you’re so right about spending time with the people, not with the lists! It’s been a great pleasure to red your post. Thank you both! X

[…] Jacobs was up next with a run through an eclectic CV on the way to pointing out that it’s people, not lists, that are important at Christmas. I […]

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