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BLOG: Be like a duck — the best management advice I've ever heard

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Be like a duck blog

AKRON (Sept. 22, 2014) — What now seems like a million years ago, I served as a student coordinator at Boyd Dining Hall at Ohio University.

It was, honestly, one of the best jobs I could have ever asked for in college—though I did not realize until after it was over. Why? Because of all the workplace lessons I learned.

From diversity in the workplace, to having the opportunity to be on “the giving side” of an interview (nothing prepares you better for an interview than being able to give one and seeing how people respond), to scheduling, to dealing with college students who do not want to show up for a 6 a.m. shift, and so much more.

But the best lesson I learned was simply: Be like a duck.

This was something I made fun of almost every time I heard it. Still, as I mature and continue tacking on professional experiences to my life, I understand it more each day. I contemplated never writing this blog to give my general manager at the university the satisfaction, but I must give credit where credit is due.

This advice was given to me on a particularly stressful day at the dining hall, when a number of employees called off and I was running around, frazzled. My general manager called me into his office and told me I needed to “be like a duck.” Out there in front of your staff, he said, you need to be the graceful, gliding duck on the pond. Back here, when you are alone, you can be the part of the duck under the water — where its legs are going crazy as it paddles but on the surface it always appears calm.

I later learned that my boss was not a genius, but rather got the mantra from the quote:

“Be like a duck. Remain calm on the surface and paddle like hell underneath.”  — Michael Caine, actor.

However he got the thought, or how much I disregarded it at the time, it is a life lesson I have carried with me since.

Although my years of coordinating 200+ students on a regular basis are over, I still have stressful days. I still have days where life is overwhelming, but I just remember: Be like a duck.

Whether it’s the quote, or the good memories of past days, or a combination of both, it always makes me feel better.

So the next time you can feel the little things bubbling up, remember: Be like a duck. Or maybe for us in the tire industry, we should think: Be like a rubber duck!

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Previous | Published March 18, 2019

Where can you expect to see the most growth in 2019?

Tire sales
45% (34 votes)
General automotive service
15% (11 votes)
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7% (5 votes)
Add-on business
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Anywhere we can get it.
19% (14 votes)
Total votes: 75
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