|Chris Leyerle and his Dad, John|
Port Hope, Ontario
He was my first employer, putting me to work in our yard for what seemed to an 8-year old boy a fine wage, 15 cents an hour. In Canadian dollars no less. I mowed the lawn, raked leaves, shoveled snow and stacked firewood. Rarely I got to help on some of his yard projects, which were generally a whole lot more fun (cutting down trees! building a deck!)
He gave me a small notebook and showed me how to track my hours worked. I would bring him the notebook every few weeks, which he would review and from which I would get paid. Like so many on payday, I would then hurry off to the store (on my bike) to buy myself a treat--in those days bubble gum and trading cards (Batman! Rat Patrol!) I saved anywhere from a quarter to a half of what I earned in a "passbook savings" account.
After a year or so, however, the 15 cents an hour income didn't seem nearly so handsome. I screwed up my courage (for my Dad could be a bit intimidating in the classic paterfamilias way) and went to ask for a raise.
"Why should I give you a raise?" he asked me.
I was not prepared for this question.
So I said the first thing I thought of: "Because I need more money?" I was unsure, so it sounded rather much like a question. I wanted more money, but naturally I wanted his approval as well.
"That might be a good reason for you, but what I asked you is why I should give you a raise. What is my good reason?"
Well, I had to think about that. Later that day I came back to him with a better answer: it took me less time to mow the lawn than I did when I started, so I was actually getting paid less for the job than I used to get. I was more efficient and did a better job in less time. I did more things, and there was more time to get more done. It was a big yard and there were always more things to do. My time was worth more--to him.
I got a raise to 25 cents.
As an entrepreneur I realize my Dad taught me many things that are part of who I am and how I work every day. Honesty. Clarity of purpose. How to develop a value proposition. How to think first about what the other guy wants, needs, and cares about. Continuous improvement. How to have confidence in asking for what I want, and to find and explain the way it benefits both my customer and me.
Thank you Dad.
John Frank Leyerle, 11/18/26 - 8/2/06, RIP