Contently COO Recalls Lessons Learned From First Job as Strawberry Picker

In LinkedIn’s “My First Job” series, there’s certainly a lot of inspiration to go around. One story in particular caught our attention.

Shane Snow, co-founder and chief creative officer of Contently, writes, “My first job inspired me to think like an entrepreneur. Not because it was a startup or anything, but because it was miserable.”

When he was 15, he worked for a farmer down the road from his house by picking strawberries. Every Saturday he “crawled through the rows of dirt, plucking red fruit from tiny leaves.” Making $3 a flat, his hands and arms were red and scratched by the end of the afternoon.

Pointing out it was “a horrible job,” it shaped his outlook on work. First, it taught him how to work at something by generating something from nothing.

He mentions in the piece, “I saw Farmer Haroldsen grow an entire field of strawberries and generate a perpetual income from a couple of measly seeds. It required work, of course, but the business literally didn’t exist before the old guy created it.”

That said, working hard isn’t enough. He realized early on that simply picking strawberries wasn’t the best way to be successful. Instead, he identified good strawberry pants to pick with two hands at once and left medium-sized strawberries for the following week when they would be bigger.

After figuring out the strategy, Snow had a little competition which fueled him. As “king of the strawberry field,” his younger brother showed up and filled flats in no time and had no problem letting Snow know it.

“I learned that the presence of a good competitor teaches you just how much better you can be. My brother spurred me to work faster and smarter than ever. We both made more money because of it.”