“When I was about 14 or 15, in Dover, Delaware, I decided to get a job that summer to see what it was about, because I had never really worked before. I had done some volunteer work as a candy striper in the hospital, but I wasn’t being paid. I took three jobs that summer: The first job was in a movie theater, the second job I took was in a clothing store and the third … was at an accounting office.
All three jobs taught me something a little bit different— but, after I got my paychecks, all three of them taught me the value of a dollar. Here I was, working three jobs, and after all was said and done, they weren’t very big paychecks, and I was surprised to see what was withheld from the paychecks. I really hadn’t calculated that out, and it made me realize the importance of hard work and what it really took to be able to save money. It definitely made me appreciate and respect people who were working day in and day out.
I had a unique experience at the accounting office: I was told to unpack a box and then set it out next to the trash bin so it could get picked up, so I did. Well, it had been filled with styrofoam peanuts, and when I set the box out there, I didn’t think anything of it. Lo and behold, a gust of wind had come by, and since I hadn’t sealed the box, Styrofoam peanuts had blown all over the yard. My boss said after work, he needed me to pick them up, so I spent like an hour and a half out there picking up the peanuts that were all over the yard. What that taught me was attention to detail and to make sure you realize the consequences of something not done correctly and the cost of not really doing things right the first time. It wasn’t something I had really experienced before at 14, in terms of consequences of what something could lead to.
It’s a big departure from what I do now, but I think the jobs were a good foundation for building some of the skills that I have now, in terms of being very careful and appreciating everything and being someone who pays attention to detail within my practice of medicine and in running a business. All of those things helped me to realize early on that these things don’t just happen—it’s a lot of work in the background, and, of course, it’s important to put your best foot forward when doing something.”
—As told to Melanie Pagan | Photography by Brian Tietz