Woody Zuill and how his first job spoiled him

- Worker Happiness

by Vasco Duarte

Sometimes you read a story that just begs to be shared. The story of Woody Zuill, a software developer who tells how his first job almost spoiled him is one of those. I won’t repeat the whole story, just read it here, but I’m going to show you some of the highlights.

The perfect job

The story begins when Woody is about 14 years of age. He needed money for things all kids like, like a slot-car, or a pellet gun. After doing all sorts of little jobs, like taking over paper rounds from friends, he decided to get a ‘proper’ job. One that would pay off the effort he had to put in it. He found it in the garden of a nursery where he had to water the plants.

Important lessons

Wait, what? We have a very smart guy that nowadays makes a living developing complex software and his first job in a garden was, as he himself says, ‘the best he ever had’? What happened?

Well, as I understand it he got to work in a place where they grew Happy Mellies avant la lettre. The story is told by means of thirteen important lessons. I’ll share a couple of them. At first he was warmly welcomed in the team (Lesson One: Treat everyone nicely) and they immediately asked him to spot possible improvements (Lesson Two: Continuous improvement), they told him how valuable his opinion was, even though he just started (Lesson Three: Give people a sense of the importance of what they do) and it got even better. He not only got a break and a free soda, but they trusted him. And they showed him. Again, again and again. It wasn’t like he had to figure out everything by himself, but they sure inspired him to get the best out of himself and his job.

Mr. Smith and Bill

I like that. Of course, someone who is 14 and works in a garden has other needs than a knowledge-worker in a big organization. Or does he? Although the story is about Woody, the real heroes are the owner of the nursery, Mr. Smith and Woody’s boss Bill. They found ways to trigger all Woody’s intrinsic motivators in a very natural way. Because hey, the guy was only 14, he probably hardly knew what intrinsic meant.

Please, read the story of Woody Zuill and how his fist job spoiled him. And remember that for everyone to become happy, we need almost as much Mr. Smiths and Bills. Luckily, you can be both.

Photo: Jessica To’oto’o (Unsplash)

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