An Old Lunch Pail Reminds This Founder to Embrace the Tough Times

Working through setbacks and overcoming hurdles sometimes yield the greatest lessons.
An Old Lunch Pail Reminds This Founder to Embrace the Tough Times
Image credit: Minick Photographer
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the July 2020 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

I grew up in the 1970s in a small town in central Pennsylvania and spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ house, a railroad-style home just down the street from my parents. My grandfather, Charles, would come home from a long day’s work, covered in dirt and oil, and share a sugary sip of coffee from a thermos he kept in a banged-up aluminum lunch pail.

My grandfather was an entrepreneur. After serving in WWII as a second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers for the U.S. Army Reserve, overseeing construction projects across France and Germany, he returned home and realized there was a need for his skill set in the local community. He started his own custom grading and excavation business and got to work. And the work was hard.

Related: This Artwork Inspired Veronica Chou to Make a More Responsible Fashion Brand

I like to think that I inherited some of his grit and entrepreneurial attitude. After doing photography for local newspapers for about a decade, in 2006 I set out on my own and founded Minick Photography, which does a mix of corporate and commercial work, along with portraits and video production. More recently, I also cofounded a 3D-mapping and drone photography company called Aerial Content Group.

Now, as I sit in my office every day editing and adjusting images, something familiar sits on a table nearby: my grand­father’s old lunch box. It functions as a catchall for my keys, sunglasses, and whatever else I can toss in to reduce office clutter. 

But it’s much more than just a holder of stuff. I imagine that each ding, dent, and scratch has a story. Maybe there was a minor mishap on the job site when something didn’t go quite right. Maybe it fell off the excavator at lunchtime. Each mark stands for something my grandfather had to push through, something he had to solve or overcome. 

Related: How This Former Submarine Officer Learned to Lead Under Pressure

Things in my own business aren’t always easy. Life hasn’t always been easy, either. That lunch pail reminds me that there will be dings and dents along the way, and that you have to push through, no matter what. Each mark tells a story, gives you character, and makes you stronger.

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