As Global News recently reported, Jim Pattison is 90 years old and still working extremely hard and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
I was extremely fortunate to apply for a position at a grocery company’s head office right after high school. A large project needed someone to convert technical documentation from print format to online and after a tough situation with an unaffordable technical writer, they were looking for someone who could complete the project under budget. For me, the lack of income was not a discouraging factor, I knew it was a huge opportunity.
I was a web code savvy, hard-working, chubby 18-year old who couldn’t afford to spend a few years at college so getting a job was critical for me immediately after high school. I fully planned on continuing working at the warehouse that employed me in the summers and weekends, but this opportunity landed me an interview and then luckily I got hired. I had done some work for family members and friends who were connected to the hiring group that eventually lead to them letting me pitch my skills. I don’t even believe they intended on giving me a fair shot, as they shouldn’t have, but they let me come in and talk to them. I remember how nervous I was, but excited at the same time. I gave them my spiel about what I could do, and they hired me.
I had been around Jim Pattison employees most of my life. His grocery store employed many in the small town I was born in, and many friends and families were connected to the company. I think as you grow older you realize that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, new people come into the picture, but when you really start networking good things can come of it.
That one position then lead to another, I eventually lead a technical team and then switched to communications and marketing to follow my passion. I credit it all to that one interview for my first corporate job in 2001. Now, several companies later, still pursuing my career I know how important the lessons I learned while working for the Jim Pattison organization shaped my outlook on business, business ethics and work ethic.
First, I will say that even though I only met Jim Pattison a couple of times 1:1 (I believe I only shook his hand once), he is directly involved in all of his companies and provides leadership and mentorship throughout. I in no way know him on a personal level and can only speak to how the leadership style he instills in his people directly impacted my career.
A few lessons that have stuck with me the entire length of my career, that I believe are because of the culture the Jim Pattison Group instills in all of its employees:
- Your front-line staff are critical to your success. That means that every bag boy\girl, every person interacting with your client and customers are critical to your businesses success. They are just as important as the corporate executives.
- Charity work is not just about accolades. Yes, businesses benefit from contributing to their communities, and a business model needs to sustain community involvement, but if you instill the act of giving back in your employees, I believe your employees will treat customers that much better. It also creates an environment of empathy in your workplace.
- Balancing a budget and understanding that a business needs to profit to continue to employ and have an impact is a fundamental every single employee across every sector should be taught. My project management success has solely come from this understanding.
- Any and every project can be inspiring. Some work is boring, but when you are moving towards a unified goal you will contribute. Leaders should always communicate the impacts of contribution. This was so instilled in me, that every single leadership position I’ve been in since I have applied this rule to my own actions.
- Entrepreneurship is cool. Jim Pattison’s story was inspiring long before guys like Gary Vee came into the picture. If you are interested look up the story of how he first started selling cars (personally, used cars as a student).
- Understand that a business can have empathy, be loyal to charity and it’s community but also still push to grow as a business. Profit and growth means a company can do more and have more impact.
- Take every opportunity you have to learn. Growth is everything and whether its taking a course or being taught a new skill, I was always able to approach someone in a different department and get an understanding of their skillset and role they play within the organization.
- Respect the risk, especially if its not yours financially. I am proud to say that I understand risk and whether I am working for a client, another company or my own initiative I have a good understanding of what can come with risk. I learned this in the early stages of my career and it has come full circle helping me with all of my current job functions or projects.
- Every single person in an organization matters. Every person working for a company has a ripple effect and it’s important to be present knowing that you have one as well. An organization or company is a group of people working towards a unified goal, every single person can impact every other person. It’s important to understand how you are affecting others.