Working Hard and Working Differently

“This is Lucky Jordan with Sweinhart Electric.”

Those seven words represent the overwhelming majority of my time over the last four months.

On June 1, my family closed escrow on two new small businesses, effectively doubling our annual revenue and exponentially increasing our stress levels. Since then, mastering the intensely technical world of flow meter calibration has consumed my father’s already busy schedule with RS Instruments, and my mom has devoted her work week (regularly 70+ hours) to learning everything there is to know about HOAs and slowly taking over the day-to-day operations of Bayview Property Management. This leaves Sweinhart Electric, our emergency back-up generator service company. And no one to run it. No one, except me.

I thought high school was hard but now I can’t wait to get back in a classroom. Between customers, employees, purchase orders, field work, operation manuals, CRM databases, and – possibly worst of all – fluorescent lights, it’s been easy to gain a new appreciation for my parents’ sacrifices for my sister and me all these years. In a nutshell, I manage the day-to-day operations of Sweinhart Electric including scheduling, emergency dispatching, quoting, billing, reviewing service reports, and coordinating the efforts of the office staff to support our field technicians. Occasionally, I’ll go out and service a generator when we need an extra technician. Working hard changes when you own your business. You want to have too much work; it means your company is growing. However, at the end of the day, working hard long hours doesn’t necessarily mean you made any money. As a student, I could decide that I wasn’t going to do my homework one week because I was busy with robotics or water polo. I’d get a few points off and move on. As an operations manager, an equivalent decision could mean losing a customer or damaging my relationship with an employee.

Generator

An emergency back-up generator that took about 13 hours of my time last week to reinstall the radiator after a re-core.

I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to be a good manager (what everyone called “being a leader” in high school). One of the most important pieces of advice I’ve been given this year is that what employees really care about in a manager is receiving adequate support. I mean, I knew this – or I thought I did. But it really took someone saying it to me point blank to understand. Every day I try to focus on doing all that I can to make my employees’ jobs as free from wasted time as possible. I know that I fail on a daily basis. But I can really see myself getting better and closer every day, and I know these experiences will make a big difference throughout the rest of my life.

I struggle to find time for myself. But when I do, I try to capitalize on it. I’ve made fair progress at learning to play the guitar. To quantify, I can now play and sing Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” well enough to avoid embarrassment. I’m slowly becoming a better rollerblader, and I’ve been to the beach enough to make me never want to leave SoCal. Overall, my gap year has been very rewarding and I’m getting closer to finding my passions. In my lifetime, I’ve never experienced something as exciting as learning. And the best part is, I don’t ever have to stop.

Beach time

Surf City, USA! I’m going to miss the warm, beautiful beach days as SoCal’s one month of winter begins.

Posted in: Gap Year Blogs