Recipe for success: Work hard, play hard, study hard

December 18, 2017 -  By

Irrigation Leaders peer group in Las Vegas. Shawn Edwards in middle (in red). Photo: Jeffrey Scott

I’m in awe of my grandfather. He lived the true American dream. He dropped out of school after his parents died and eventually built up a business that allowed him to ski the Swiss Alps in winter and retire a true millionaire (back in the days when a million bucks meant something).

My grandfather taught me the foundation of being an entrepreneur. He always told me to “work hard and play hard, but do them separately.”

He built his business initially by cleaning septic systems (by hand!), snow plowing, gardening and eventually by becoming the first gunite pool builder in Connecticut.

My grandfather left school in eighth grade to become the breadwinner in his family. But it wasn’t until us grandchildren started attending college that he updated his motto of work hard/play hard to include “study hard.” It’s the trifecta of success.

He ingrained in me a work ethic that is both simple and profound, yet rare in its application.

One example of a strong work ethic is A+ Lawn & Landscape in Des Moines, Iowa, operated by Shawn Edwards. This company has achieved a high level of success by working hard, being accountable every day and celebrating its employees and team spirit every month. One of Shawn’s monthly festivities includes a dunk-the-boss (and managers) tank. If you have problems getting employees to show up to a party, read this article featured in LM a few months ago.

I have gotten to know Shawn very well over the years. He’s a member of both my Leader’s Edge landscape peer group and Irrigation Leaders peer group, and my company awarded his firm The Mighty Oak award last year for outstanding achievement. He embodies the work-hard/play-hard spirit. While spending a few days with Shawn and my Irrigation Leaders in Las Vegas, I usually needed a nap!

The times may have changed, but the road to success requires the same three ingredients: hard work, a studious approach and taking time to celebrate one’s success.

Shawn and his partners follow this simple recipe, with brilliant success and high-profit results.

What is your philosophy that drives your team forward toward success?

Photo: Jeffrey Scott

Jeffrey Scott

About the Author:

Jeffrey Scott, MBA, author, specializes in growth and profit maximization in the Green Industry. His expertise is rooted in his personal success, growing his own company into a $10 million enterprise. Now, he facilitates the Leader’s Edge peer group for landscape business owners—members achieve a 27 percent profit increase in their first year. To learn more visit

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