#FirstSevenJobs is a topic trending on Twitter right now. People like Mira Sorvino, Stephen Colbert, and Buzz Aldrin, have been sharing their first seven jobs. You might reignite your passion for your life’s work, you can learn about others by understanding their history, and this makes for interesting conversation.

tractor.jpg  Preparing the soil for a new vineyard.

Here are my first seven jobs and what I learned:

  1. Cherry Picker. When we moved to the country, the farmer next door had a cherry orchard. I picked cherries for 10 cents a lug, or about 0.3 cents a pound. Lesson learned: Manual labor, while good for the soul, was not a good career choice for me. I vowed then to work hard to obtain a good education.
  2. Family Farm. My dad still worked in Chicago so much of the heavy farm work fell on my shoulders as a 13-year-old. Lesson learned: Hard work is fun and rewarding.
  3. Family Winemaker’s Shop. My dad opened a store to sell home winemaker’s supplies. Lesson learned: Inventory management, pricing and margin management, sales and customer service.
  4. Beekeeper. At 14, I owned a 60 hive operation and sold all the honey on the family farm. Lesson learned: How to budget, improve a business, and sell products and services (honey and pollination services).
  5. Garden Seed Sales. As part of a fundraiser for a school project, I went door-to-door to sell garden seeds. Lesson learned: I enjoyed the prospect of selling something of value and earning a little money.
  6. Yard maintenance. I mowed the neighbor’s lawn and cared for his yard. Sadly, he was killed in an automobile accident less than two weeks after I started working for him. Lesson learned: Life is short. Stop and smell the roses.
  7. Cellar Rat. I worked cleaning barrels, tanks and bottling wine for the new winery in the neighborhood. Lesson learned: Diving in a giant stainless steel tank in swim trunks is refreshing on a hot summer day.

moving bees.jpg  Moving beehives from a pollination site.

And because this is fascinating to me, here are the next three:

  1. Winery Tour Guide. I was promoted to giving wine tastings, tours and selling product. Lesson learned: I truly enjoyed working with the public, and telling stories. They enjoyed them too.
  2. Assistant Winemaker. A second winery hired me to essentially run the winery. I was 19. (I met Ronald Regan while employed there.) Lesson learned: Organizational skills are immensely important to keeping a business profitable and moving forward.
  3. Property Manager. I operated an executive’s 30-acre estate on Lake Michigan, doing everything from mowing the lawn to feeding the llama and investigating why the burglar alarm went off at 3am in the morning. Lesson learned: Trust comes in part from being able to work independently and without day-to-day supervision.

What about you? What can you learn (or relearn) from this exercise? Take a moment and write down your first seven jobs and what you learned from each. It’s more than just a trip down memory lane – it might help you remember why you are passionate about your life’s work, and reignite that flame.

I would enjoy hearing about your first seven jobs; and please, feel free to comment on mine.

All the best,



The farm today – Chardonnay grapes used in the production of fine wines by a local winery.


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