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

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An Old Lunch Pail Reminds This Founder to Embrace the Tough Times 2

Working through setbacks and overcoming hurdles sometimes yield the greatest lessons.


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 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 from a thermos he kept in a banged-up aluminum 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 and , 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 and got to work. And the work was hard.

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I like to think that I inherited some of his grit and entrepreneurial attitude. After doing 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 . 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. 

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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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