Sometimes You Need to Take Two Buses

By Phyllis Ehrlich
Group Vice President, Spectrum Reach

My first paying summer job (hourly minimum wage) taught me a valuable lesson. I had to take two buses to get to Joyce Leslie, a moderately priced women’s clothing chain in Brooklyn, New York. My responsibilities included working in the dressing room, putting racks of clothes back on the floor, and sweeping up at the end of the night.

As a teenager, the extra spending money was nice, but I disliked the job and found much of it boring. When I complained to my parents, they challenged me to find the positive. So, I motivated myself to remember where every item of clothing went on the store floor and became the most efficient employee at putting clothes back. To this day, I’m an expert at hanging clothes up in record time.

What does taking two buses really mean? It means that whatever job you do, even a menial job, do it exceptionally well. It means you sometimes need to do something you don’t necessarily like: whether it’s taking two buses to work or engaging in mundane tasks. You never know what can happen or how your life can be influenced by just having the right attitude.


When we were visiting college campuses for our son, Andrew, we met Candace, an enthusiastic sophomore who was earning spending money as a tour guide for prospective students. We were immediately impressed by her knowledge, passion and genuine warmth. After the tour, we continued our lively conversation and learned she was a marketing major. Her personality exuded energy and positivity. We forged an immediate bond that continues to blossom personally and professionally.

Candace acted as a “big sister” to Andrew during his freshman year. I hired her as a summer intern and then for her first job after college. Today, years later, Candace is a rising star at a major packaged goods company and the mom of three beautiful young children. We recently referred a college student to her for industry and career advice. Whatever you do, give it your all. You never know when someone might notice and positively impact your life and career path.


Sometimes hard work supersedes everything else. It’s what makes you valuable and invaluable. People will invest more time, energy and money in team members who get things done, no matter how big or small. Those are certainly the team members I go the extra mile for. As you grow your career, never lose sight of how a small gesture can make a large impact. Say “happy to help in any way,” and mean it. Volunteer for unglamorous assignments no one else might.


Task yourself with becoming more proficient at tasks you may not necessarily enjoy, and seek help from others. For example, as an idea person, working with numbers and spread sheets has always been tedious for me but it is an essential skill to bring ideas to life. Over the years, savvy finance colleagues have been great “tutors” and partners. It’s amazing how learning to do something well, can make that task more pleasant.

And remember, somewhere on your career journey, you may need to take two buses.

Phyllis Ehrlich
Phyllis Ehrlich
Group Vice President at

Phyllis Ehrlich has dedicated her life’s work to igniting businesses, transforming teams, and championing rising talent and leaders. She is currently Group Vice President of Spectrum Reach, the advertising sales division of Charter Communications, where she created and leads a specialized team dedicated to supporting top-level clients from Madison Avenue to Main Street. Phyllis is also a Certified Professional Coach and an alumna of Women in Cable & Telecommunications Betsy Magness Leadership Institute and Cable Executive Management Program at Harvard Business School.


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