25 Lessons on Working Happy From My German Father

My Father

My father owns an electrical contracting business. He built a strong company that has lasted for over 40 years. He has never advertised in his life. He went out and proved he was good and his customers referred him to other friends and contractors all over eastern Pennsylvania. Seth Godin would have been proud.

I worked for him in the summers when I was out of school. Working with him was a pleasure and a pain. He was born German and insists on everything to be perfect. He always set the bar higher than I could reach.


I look back on it now and realize how much I've learned. I was lucky to have a father who owned his own business and wanted his son to tag along. I was probably more work then a help, especially in the early years.


As you read this list try to picture a German man with a graying black beard, a tool belt on and a pair of dirty jeans as he says each one. It makes it more fun.


1.     Never worry about the time, all it will do is make work go slow.

2.     Take time to hang out with co-workers, it makes work interesting.

3.     Be able to laugh at yourself because people like to be around someone that doesn't take himself too seriously.

4.     A good cup of coffee is worth the price it costs.

5.     Do it right the first time.

6.     Why take a longer break then you really need?

7.     If it works then you did well. If it works and looks good then you did great.

8.     Be able to explain how you made the mistake. No one wants to hear how you're not sure.

9.     The earlier you wake up the earlier you can get home.

10.  Nothing wrong with daydreaming as long as you pick the right spots.

11.  Don't worry about how a customer looks, just worry about their ability to pay on time.

12.  Always lend a hand to another contractor because you are going to need them to help you before the job is done.

13.  Set the bar higher then you can presently reach because one day you'll reach it if you keep trying.

14.  Buy coffee for everyone every once in a while. We all need to spread good will.

15.  Can't force a person to care about their work. It's really up to them to make that decision.

16.  It's only money. The real joy is in the accomplishment.

17.  The customer doesn't always know what he wants. Sometimes they need to be enticed with good ideas.

18.  Don't walk too fast and don't walk too slow because you'll either wear yourself out or you'll look like a slacker.

19.  Even if you don't know how to do it, give it a try because you may surprise yourself.

20.  Eat lightly during the day because you'll weigh yourself down if you eat too much.

21.  Always have a system for each task because then you can do it without too much thinking, which frees your mind up for planning the next task.

22.  Never be afraid to walk away. Not every relationship will work.

23.  You can enjoy your work or you can think about going out tonight. It's up to you.

24.  Don't do what I do unless you really love it.

25.  Hard work may make you tired, but it's a good tired.


Happy Father's Day!


I love you Baba (German name for Dad). My friends always made fun of me for calling him that and now they ask, "How is Baba?" It's cool how unique things stick in people's heads.


What is one lesson you've learned from your father?


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Image courtesy of Nikki Staib. It's an image of my father holding his grandson (My nephew Kris).

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