In one of his famous speeches, Jack Ma, co-founder of Alibaba, said: “when you are young, work in a small company. In big companies you learn processes. In small companies you learn visions, dreams.” When I look back, I realize I was lucky to have always been working for small companies. I worked in family dental practices. I worked directly with owners. I currently work in a family company, moving to 3rd generation business. I am in daily contact with the owner and CEO. The value of this experience you cannot measure.
But what I consider the experience that shaped the way I take on business is that I grew up in family business. In times of great crisis, when you could buy only two lightbulbs for a months salary, my father started a business in their bedroom. We started producing transformers. From scratch. My dad, with help of my mum, brother and me. Bedroom later became garage, then an under-roof shop, then it was a rented house and now my brother runs the business in a proper office that he bought and rebuilt.
I was eight years old when we started. For me, it was a game. It was a game of who produces the most transformers in 2 hours. Then in four. Then I started to learn something about money. The way to earn it. The struggle of staying late until job is done. Remembering the smell of tin, glue and coper. Because when you have family business, you don’t stay until the clock says it’s over, you stay until the job is done. By the time I was 16, I was the fastest transformer winder you could find. And by that time we had other people working for us. I learned that my speed had something to do with skills. But it had everything to do with the fact that I was the most committed person out there. Cause I worked for our business to survive.
My father had a vision. My brother continued his dream and made a company what it is today. Professional, strong, growing family business. When I see his daughter play in a CEO chair (she is only 4), I feel this company is going in a great direction. Cause my brother’s kids are gonna learn same thing our father taught us: staying committed to the vision in face of a struggle.
This is what I do today in the company I work for. We have a lot of challenges but I could not be more proud to work for a vision I share as well. I see the daughters of my boss having the same determination I had even as a youngster overlooking my dad in our garage.
So, my lesson for you today is: If you still have no vision of your own, find someone to work for. Learn how dreams are built and brought to life. You can only find that with the people that built something on their own. I had that luck to grow up with those people. I have luck to work with some of these people now. And my coaching? This is my own small vision as well. And that is, my friends, a life worth living.