My First Job: Matthew Dykes

The co-founder and CEO of Guerilla Media flipped burgers before making films.

My first real job was when I was 15, at McDonald’s. I had to get up at 3:15 a.m. to be there by 4:15 a.m. That was where I learned how to be responsible.

Looking back on it, everything had a process, and in order for your job to be done as efficiently as possible, all you had to do was follow the process. I liked doing things my own way, but after a couple of instances, I realized their way really was the quickest and easiest way to do it.

They had it worked down to a science, and at that point it was a super valuable lesson I learned and still use to this day: Before I go into anything with my business, I break down the process.
I also learned at McDonald’s that the job is much easier and better if you just clean as you go. If you have one job, you do that one job and you finish it. Then you clean that work area up and start your next job. That all goes back to being process-driven.

Preparation is the key to success in my job. We’re a small business, but we work really hard to show that we’re not just a mom-and-pop shop, but that we’re very professional.
If you reduce things down to the [minute detail] for yourself, then it just makes it easier for you to do it for your staff and for everyone. Then, everyone can
 be open and relaxed and free to create. At the end of the day, if you have that ability to be creative and you have no other worry, I think that comes across as very professional, prepared and efficient.

I learned a lot at McDonald’s, and I’m grateful for that experience. It taught me such a good work ethic and the process in order to be self-sufficient. It was one of the best ways to start out my working career, and I have no regrets. I’m so glad I did it.

–As told to Melanie Pagan