“Look! Is that a white hair?” my sister asked.
And yes, there it was, reflecting off the kitchen lights like a beacon shining in an ocean of darkness. My instinct was to wrap that sucker around my finger and pull - yanking out the ubiquitous sign of aging - from the root. But surprisingly, I smiled, proud that she was finally here to say hello. It took a while for Betty White to show herself.
With aging - I looked this up - white strands grow when hair follicles start losing pigment cells, which carry melanin. Then the hair starts growing lighter. Not the I’ve been vacationing so I have highlights lighter, but the big wave - I’m here - kind of lighter. Whiter. Additional studies are proving that stress plays its part by stimulating the flight or fight response, which then releases a chemical called norepinephrine. It’s the bleach to your favorite black cashmere sweater.
I remember as a kid, my mom used to give us 10 cents for every white hair we pulled off her head. It was a well fought and lucrative battle but eventually we outgrew that deal. Today, looking wild with her home hair dyes and streaks of grays, she’s very proud of it.
But, back to Betty...
She earned her place here. Being a female business owner is hard in an industry dominated by men, and run by bigger companies that can out price, out staff, and out network. Some clients, in fact, expect you to float 360-day payment terms. This. Shit. Is. Hard.
But even harder is protecting what makes Manual Labor special, and that’s our culture.
I’ve been seeing a lot of articles recently on how to retain employees or what to do before you quit. It can feel like an endless cat and mouse game. Call me an eternal optimist but what about building something where people want to stay because they like where they are? Where each person not only feels valued but understands that everyday they show up for work makes a difference.
I’m not saying we’re 100% there yet, but today, with this team, I can proudly say we are building something special, and that’s worth any amount of norepinephrine and some more of Betty’s friends.