5 Lessons Learned as a Paper Boy

My first job was as a paper-boy. Ahhh, it brings back such fond memories.

I remember rushing home from school at 2:30 pm, loading up my blue BMX bike with yellow mag wheels, putting the Asbury Park Press newspaper in my newspaper bag slung on the front of my handlebars, and rushing out on my route to deliver to my customers by 3:15 pm.

I was just 11-years old then as you had to be in the 6th grade to have that job. I kept that job all the way through H.S. It put a little bit of change in my pocket, allowed me to save up for some new ice-skates and even a new, faster bike. I loved being able to make a little money and buy a few things. I also loved the smile on people’s faces when I delivered the paper to their doorstep.

This was my first taste of life as an entrepreneur. Looking back, there are 5 valuable lessons I learned as a paperboy that still impact me today. 

5 Valuable Lessons Learned as a Paper Boy!

1. You Gotta be on Time.

People would literally be waiting at the door for their newspaper many times. Especially on weekends. Man, you don’t mess with someone’s Sunday paper. But let me tell you, when you are on time, there was the biggest smile on people’s faces.

And if you were late (like if the Asbury Park Press printer broke and the bundle got dropped to my house late and it delayed my delivery), people didn’t care what the excuse was. They wanted their paper on time.

I sometimes had to say, “I’m sorry. I got it here as fast as I could.” And I would just smile.

Lesson: Be on time. It’s the first step to great customer service.

2. You Gotta “Collect.”

Man, I hated “collecting.” I would actually hope that people were NOT home when I went collecting. This is when every Wednesday I had to go around and knock on their door and say, “COLLECTING.” It was $1.95 for the paper during the week. It was $2.25 if you got the Sunday paper along with it.

Yep. $2.25 for 7-days a week newspaper delivery to your house from a paperboy with a smile on his face.

I just never liked asking for money. Still don’t.

But I realized that if you want to do business, you gotta have great customer service. And eventually, you gotta “collect.”

When people would give me a .25 cent tip, I was pumped up. And if they gave me $3.00, that meant a .75 cent tip. I would be ecstatic. Do the math. .75 cents x 30 people or so people averaged $20-25.00 per week. That’s $100.00 per month. That was good money for a middle school kid in the 1980s. Heck, that’s not bad for a middle school kid today.

Lesson: Great customer service is just the beginning. Don’t be shy to “collect.” You’ll be shocked that you sometimes even get a great “tip.” 

3. Priorities first.

There were so many days that I had massive amounts of homework or a backyard football or hockey game that I wanted to play in.

I always chose my paper-route first. Otherwise, I was negatively impacting my customers.

Typically, it was this order:

  1. Paper-route.
  2. Play sports in Bob Wood’s backyard. It didn’t matter what. We competed every single day. And many of those days ended up in fights. And then reconciliations. But we always had fun. And we always competed. 
  3. Homework. Until it was done.

Lesson: Put your big-rocks first. Even today, PRIORITIES are crucial to success in business. Do the things that impact OTHERS first. Make sure you are working on the right things. (And don’t forget to smile!)

4. Get Help.

Sunday’s were the “big” days. The newspaper was twice as thick on Sunday’s. And it seemed like my entire neighborhood got the paper on Sunday’s.

Worse yet, on Sundays, the paperboy had to “put the paper together.” That meant they would drop the bundle at your house but you had to organize all the sections, the cartoons, and the coupons and advertisements section. All of it.

And it was heavy.

Typically, the Sunday paper would have required 2 or 3 trips back to the house to re-stock my bike. That would take about an hour.

Most Sundays though, my Dad volunteered and he would drive me around for delivery. We would load up the back of his blue Bonneville with about 50 Sunday newspapers and I would just get in and out of the car as needed as I would dart from home to home hand-delivering the papers on the front-step or handing it to my customer as they were typically in a bathrobe sipping on a coffee (Yes, different era I know!).

Lesson: When the load gets heavy, it sure is nice to have some help. I couldn’t do what I do today without my team. They play a big part in helping me deliver my mission. I believe I learned that lesson from my pops back in 1983. 🙂

5. “Build your Route.”

When I first got my paper-route, they gave me 13-people to deliver to. By going door-to-door and “selling” the paper, I built my route to over 30 people weekly for many years. My Sunday route was always about 50 people.

I loved the “building” part. I loved the challenge of trying to get new people. And then I loved the challenge of keeping those people happy.

Lesson: Regardless of what you do, you should always be looking to “build your route.” Increase the number of people you serve and double the care you deliver. Your growth is unlimited when you’re focused on serving your customers, clients, patients, or members more and helping them achieve what THEY want!

It sure is fun to look back. It’s a different era now with how people consume the news. But in the 1980s, newspapers were a great way to find out all the local and national stories and happenings.

That being said, many of the same principles stand true whether you run your own business today, you’re looking to grow your sales or “book”, or you want to become even more successful.

Thanks for stepping back down memory lane with me. I think I might pick up a paper-route again just for nostalgia sake. On second thought, I’ll keep reading the newspaper every day and enjoying my fond memories. 

Then again, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing and attempt to keep putting smiles on people’s faces!

Much love…and many newspapers!


P.S. #1. Are you ready to “build your route” and take your business and life to the next level?

This is GUARANTEED to do exactly that…

It’s called my 3.5 Day LIVE Mentorship Program for fit-pros and trainers and it’s coming up this Nov 7-10, 2019. It is the deepest and most intensive program I offer. You will learn things such as…

  • My 20 Top Lessons Learned in my Fitness Career
  • How to GO DEEP in your mind and soul to craft up the life and business you WANT to create
  • The Art of a World-Class Speech & how to become a dynamic public speaker
  • How to create an online coaching program
  • The 5-step online Business Startup Formula
  • My $120,000 Mistake
  • A Roadmap on How to Become a Successful Fitness Entrepreneur
  • Build Your Best Business and Life in Your Head First
  • From Dream to Published
  • Instilling an Owner’s Mentality in your Organization through Profit Sharing
  • Up-Level Your Influence on Social Media!

These are just SOME of the topics at Retreat. We will have over a dozen of the top names & brands in the fitness business present at the 3.5 Day Mentorship and this is huge for networking and connecting. After all, your “net worth is determined by your network.”


Finally, other features of the program include:

  1. Workout at Fitness Quest 10 and experience first-hand the energy of one of the most iconic gyms on the planet.
  2. Get “behind-the-scenes” look at Fitness Quest 10 and what makes it tick. This includes meeting & working with the leadership team during Thursday’s “pre-con” session (included in the Mentorship).
  3. Party at my house on Saturday night; And yes, it includes a “tour” of my home-gym (a.k.a. the ENERGY Cave!).
  4. Over 18-hours with yours truly coaching YOU to develop a strategy and ACTION-STEPS to get you to where you want to go.
  5. Never before done, 1 Month of IMPACT Coaching leading up to the Mentorship!! (Including workouts, meditations, & optional prayer sessions!)
  6. 1-Day Post-con Opportunity (for 10-people) on Monday, Nov. 10th. Go deep on business and life in an ultra-intimate atmosphere with Todd and a select for of your mentorship colleagues. 
  7. AND THEN SOME… I always love surprises and you are guaranteed some “and then some” at this Mentorship.

Early-bird discounts expire this weekend (September 15th) so be sure to apply this week.


BRING A BUDDY. If you bring a buddy, teammate, colleague, or friend or spouse, the 2nd person gets 50% OFF and you can split that cost. Round up a buddy and commit to coming to San Diego in November.

ACT TODAY & SAVE… https://todddurkin.com/mentorship19/


Thursday, Sept 12th.  “Top 5 stories in the NFL…”
Time: 12 NOON PST/3:00 pm EST

Friday, September 13th“We Talkin’ Business—5 Ways to AMP up your Business this Fall.”
Time: 12 NOON PST/3:00 pm EST

About the Author

Todd Durkin, MA, is a world-renown trainer, coach, author and motivational keynote speaker who trains dozens of elite, high-profile NFL, MLB, and MMA athletes, including two Super Bowl MVP’s, one NFL League MVP, Olympic gold medalists, Heisman Trophy winners, and MMA champions. Todd is a 2-Time Trainer of the Year, the 2017 Jack LaLanne Award recipient, the 2018 Canfitpro International Presenter of the Year, a member of the Under Armour Training Team, and a Top-100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness.

Todd was a featured trainer on the popular TV show, NBC STRONG, which is now airing on Netflix. His award-winning gym, Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego, CA, is a Top-10 Gym in America and his 3 best-selling books, Get Your Mind Right, The WOW BOOK, and The IMPACT Body Plan, have both changed thousands of people’s lives. If you would like to get motivated and inspired now, you can pick these books up at www.Amazon.com, or if you would like a signed copy, please purchase at www.ToddDurkin.com/
TD Mastermind Coaching Program for Trainers & Fit-Pros

If you are a trainer, coach, or fitness pro, you need to check out Todd’s Mastermind Coaching Program. It is designed to help you create excellence in your business & life. It consists of 2-live retreats per year, monthly coaching, access to Todd and his team of coaches, select and unique opportunities within Todd’s network, weekly motivation, and a whole lot more. This is all primarily virtual so you can be located anywhere around the globe and you can join at any time.

Here are all the details: www.ToddDurkinMastermind.com
IMPACT Coaching for High-Performers & Growth-Minded individuals (Primarily NON-fit-pros)

If you are NOT a fitness pro, but a person who seeks high-performance and growth in business and life. There is a unique opportunity to work directly with Todd in his brand new IMPACT Coaching program. It’s only 60-Days long, but it’s an intense immersion in personal coaching (body, mind, AND spirit) and business coaching. There will only be 12-people in this program—one might as well be YOU.

The IMPACT Coaching Program is currently closed for registration but you can stay updated at https://todddurkin.com/impact-coaching/
New Podcast

Lastly, Todd’s new podcast (“The Todd Durkin IMPACT Show”) just dropped, and we would love for you to listen. It’s designed to motivate and inspire you to live a life full of passion, purpose, and IMPACT, and it’s guaranteed to Get Your Mind Right. Check it out and subscribe today at www.todddurkin.com/podcast. We also have a part of the podcast where we take your Q&A, so please send us your questions through the weblink.

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