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What I Learned Scooping Ice Cream

Posted by Ilise Benun on

Baskin Robbins image 1

The key to my almost 30 years as a self employed creative professional is a lesson I learned in my first official job scooping ice cream at Baskin Robbins:
self discipline.

I hadn’t really thought too much about it until last weekend, when a strange hashtag seemed to be trending on Twitter: #firstsevenjobs

I have no idea who started it or what its purpose is, but I have enjoyed seeing and contributing to those lists of young people’s jobs, and it triggered a few fond memories — and not a little humility. Here’s my list:

  • #firstsevenjobs

    1. babysitter

    2. receptionist

    3. ice cream scooper

    4. frozen yogurt purveyor

    5. waitress

    6. personal assistant

    7. assistant chef

But who knew that one of my clients, Emily Lewis of Bright Umbrella, was a fellow former ice cream scooper at Baskin Robbins? She has a scar from the milkshake machine to prove it. I have a feeling she also has the self discipline I learned there.

At 16, I worked after school at the shop on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks, CA (not sure if it’s still there.) That was my first “official” job — that is, I got it without any connections. (Before that, I had been babysitting since the age of 12 and my self employed parents had employed me as a receptionist in their factory.)

I was a little chubby as an adolescent so working at Baskin Robbins could have presented a very big problem. But I needed the money to make my car payments so I made a promise to myself:

The only way I could take the job was to promise myself to not eat one bite of ice cream — not one! For I already knew about slippery slopes and ice cream was one for me!

And somehow I accomplished it! It was definitely one of those one-moment-at-a-time things, where every time I wanted a bite, I would just say “no” to myself, as if I were the parent to my inner ice-cream addict.

I’m still doing that every day (about more than ice cream) and I have since learned that what I “want” doesn’t really matter anyway.

Doing what needs to be done is what matters, and it’s not usually what I want, so I have to choose. I try to choose the right thing.

  • More in: #firstsevenjobs, Baskin Robbins, Freelancing, Inspiring stories, Posts by Ilise, self discipline

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