If you’re a fan of TV’s “Shark Tank,” you might have heard billionaire entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban espouse the merits of sweat equity in achieving success.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is known to emphasize passion for what you do, with staying true to your values a high priority in LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner’s playbook.

In honor of Labor Day, the Sun Journal asked members of the L-A community about their work style, influences, words and ideals they live by, and what work means to them.

Chip Morrison, business development officer at Androscoggin Bank, stands in the lobby of the Lisbon Street branch. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

♦ Chip Morrison

Business Development Officer, Androscoggin Bank

After 20 years as president and CEO of the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce, Morrison retired from the role in 2015. He continues to devote much of his time to philanthropic causes such as the annual Chip Morrison Scholarship Scramble. Hard work and giving back are the cornerstones of his work philosophy.

“It’s amazing, the harder you work, the luckier you get. There is no substitute for hard work. This was taught to me by my father at an early age.

I have always been passionate about the work I do. My work has always been about building a better community. Coming to work has always been fun and that is because of my passion for it.

These ideals have always been important to me:

Lead by example; what you do is more important than what you say.

What gets measured gets done.

The two most powerful words are ‘thank you.’

You get what you give. Reach out and help others — even when they don’t ask for it.

We all have customers and their needs are paramount.

Stand up for what you believe. If you don’t stand for something, you fall for anything.

Everyone you meet, you meet again (and they remember how you treated them). Treat others as you like to be treated. Be kind.

Remember that the work you do is your calling card for the future.”

Mary LaFontaine, CareerCenter regional director of Southern Maine, stands in the lobby of the Mollison Way center in Lewiston. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

♦ Mary LaFontaine

CareerCenter Regional Director—Southern Maine

For three decades, LaFontaine’s career has revolved around helping others build their careers. She is a former Auburn city councilor, teaches career development courses at the University of Southern Maine’s Lewiston-Auburn College and serves on numerous civic and business councils, boards and associations.

“I am grateful for awesome work experiences where I find meaning, and that shape my life. I have been fortunate to have parents, siblings, teachers and mentors that have taught me how to work and the value of work.

Early to rise! I have always been a morning person and it’s when I have the most energy. I can get a lot accomplished before 8 a.m.

Love what you do; do what you love. Life is too short to not love your work. I’ve been blessed in my career path. I have been allowed to follow my passions and do work that utilized my strengths and abilities.

Practice gratitude. Life is too short to not be happy. Note the things in your life, and the work, for which you are grateful — every day. That’s not to say things are perfect and there are not challenges and pain. However, going through hard times will be lighter if practicing gratitude.”

Shane Green, service and general Mmanager of RDA Automotive stands at the front desk of his business. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

♦ Shane Green

 Service and General Manager, RDA Automotive

Son of a single parent, Green has been working, largely on cars, since he was 14. At 59, still embracing what he does, he is a huge proponent of teamwork, always giving credit where credit is due.

“My work ethic comes from myself. I like to work. I had to go to work at a very young age. To have what I needed, I needed to work.

In my job, I have to be a jack-of-all-trades — a boss and also one of the staff. We all work together as a team; that’s why we are successful and have such a good group. Before RDA, my years at Emerson Chevrolet taught me how to treat people. We all have to make money, but we have to treat our customers well.

I have one of the best crews I’ve ever had. They care about the customers. It’s no different than a baseball or football team. They may have a coach, but they’re doing the work. Without them we would not have the reputation we have, so I give them all the credit.

I tell everybody who works for me — and I’ve always lived by this — pay attention to what you do. Don’t worry about what everyone else wants to make you do, just worry about what you want to make, do and be. You have to put your mind to it. Extend a helping hand at all times, but don’t compare yourself to others.”

Julia Sleeper, co-founder and executive director of the Tree Street Youth Center, stands in the Tree Street Youth office. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

♦ Julia Sleeper-Whiting

Co-Founder and Executive Director of Tree Street Youth Center

As a Bates College undergraduate, Sleeper-Whiting became involved with youths in the downtown Lewiston community through service and learning opportunities. She co-founded the center 10 years ago. Her work philosophy involves passion and discipline.

“My attitude toward work is really grounded in an entrepreneurial spirit. Work is about creating solutions to things happening around us and solving challenges in the world. As long as your focus remains on the greater purpose, the work itself remains relevant and meaningful. I believe I inherited this belief from my parents and previous generations of my family who were all entrepreneurs.

Some important work habits are to figure out strategies that accomplish the tasks that aren’t your favorites. If I know there’s something I prefer to do less than other things, I work on that first, forcing myself to get it out of the way. No one is going to like every single aspect of their work, but if you feel driven and motivated and like you are a part of something greater, it goes beyond just the paycheck.”

Former Auburn Police Chief Phil Crowell, now Auburn’s assistant city manager, shakes hands with each police officer during an end-of-service ceremony in the courtyard of the Auburn Police Department in this 2018 file photo. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

♦ Phil Crowell

Auburn Assistant City Manager

As Auburn police chief before he became assistant city manager, Crowell believed passion for service was at the heart of any success he found. He subscribes to the John Maxwell quote: “Image is what people think we are. Integrity is what we really are.” 

“I leaned early in life, from my parents, the importance of having a strong work ethic. At times they had two jobs just to make ends meet.

While I am more relaxed, having some discipline is important in reaching your goals. Overall, the key is to meet people where they’re at.

Having a good balance in life is important. My family, faith and work have always been my priority. Throughout my career, my passion about serving the Auburn community has been at the core of my success and happiness.”

Fowsia Musse, executive director of Maine Community Integration, at the work table in her Lisbon Street office. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

♦ Fowsia Musse

Healthy Homes and Health Equity Coordinator, Healthy Androscoggin; Executive Director, Maine Community Integration

Fleeing Somalia for Ethiopia around 1989, then immigrating to Georgia in 1995, Musse arrived in Maine in 2003. The daughter of a Somali pharmacist with deep roots in advocacy and volunteering, Musse grew up in a family immersed in the same. It’s a lifestyle she maintains, encouraging her five children to find ways to give back.

“My father belonged to the Somali version of Shriners, focusing on prosthetic limbs for kids who lost legs to polio and other things. In Ethiopia, after Somalia, he got involved with a Canadian nonprofit that worked toward clean water. I was raised in that world, and my siblings also are involved with Ethiopian nonprofits.

Because I grew up in a chaotic world, I am very disciplined and work well in chaos. As a new Mainer, the government and citizens here gave me a lot and I feel it is my responsibility to help my neighbors and others in the community.

It’s important to begin teaching children from middle school on to care about community causes — to develop their passion and volunteer. When you have an awareness of your community, you become globally aware as well. Work has been about that for me.”

Heidi Audet, co-owner of Chill Yoga, paints the bathroom of her new Lisbon Street studio. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

♦ Heidi Audet

Co-owner, Chill Yoga

Opening on Oct. 1, 2007, the studio will mark its 12th year by moving to a larger space later this month. Audet believes in following her dreams and gives back to the community by coaching field hockey in the Lewiston schools, something she’s done for 21 years.

“I come from a blue-collar family: my grandparents, father and mother. Everyone did their part. In summer, we all chopped wood to get ready for winter.

My father was a volunteer firefighter and my mother was a councilwoman. Work was always about service to others. That’s where I learned it.

Discipline and organization have meant everything to me. It’s how I get things done.

Follow your passion — your purpose. I have always followed my dharma (in Hinduism: the nature of reality regarded as a universal truth). In the Bhagavad Gita, a text synthesizing Hindu and yogic ideals, Krishna says to do what is yours to do. I say: ‘Do it well!’”

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