The Best Workers Can Make Small Jobs Big

Most jobs are bigger than the people holding them.

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GL Hoffman

In my town, you can spot young workers along the edges of streets holding signs promoting local store sales. Generally, they're advertising for a waterbed store, or another locally owned retail operation. (On Sunday, however, I did notice a young guy with a Kmart placard. If Kmart is doing it, can this be a new media? Kidding…)

I know these are usually temporary jobs. I wouldn't be surprised to hear there's a temp agency that contracts with the stores to provide this casual labor at a minimum rate. Chances are they even provide transportation to and from the street corner.

But with so many advertising choices hitting non-prospects--what could be better than a sign near your store, inviting nearby customers to stop in? Makes sense to me.

I know some folks look down at these guys, who must be a bit down on their luck to be doing such a thing, right? Not me. Frankly, I admire the person who can fill almost any job, as long as it is legal. Good for them. (Next time, give them a wave, and if you are feeling particularly generous, drive through the McDonald’s that is near their spot and buy them a shake or something.)

In truth, some of these street sign carriers could teach us all a thing or two.

Some of them admittedly look a trifle bored. Some will even bring a lawn chair and will hold the sign in one hand as they are trying to read the paper or a book in the other. They are doing the work, but just barely.

Others are completely engaged and into the job. They try to make eye contact with each driver, give a nice little wave and a smile as if to say, “Hey, at least I am enjoying the weather outside!” They are engaged in their work and are doing more with the job than the owner of the store had likely anticipated.

This is an example of someone making a job bigger than it is intended. Most jobs are bigger than the people holding them.

G.L. Hoffman is a serial entrepreneur and venture investor/operator/incubator/mentor. Two of his companies have traveled the entire success path from the garage to IPO. Currently, he is chairman of JobDig, and his blog can be found at or at


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