The President's Son is Late for Work, by David Armstrong

The President's Son is Late for Work

It is 1977 and the president's son, David Armstrong, is driving to work one morning.  As David approaches the factory, he knows he's going to be late.

As I get out the car, I think to myself, "Oh boy, I'm late. I wonder if I can sneak in.  I'm only a few minutes late-maybe no one will notice me."

So, I pick a side door and quickly try to slip in.  when I take a few steps, I hear that familiar sound...Bam, Bam, Bam.  As it echoes through the factory from all four corners, the noise gets louder and louder...Bam, Bam, Bam.  I thought, "I know what that sound is.  It's the sound of hammers hitting the benches by all of my friends in the factory.  This is the tradition at Armstrong International., Inc., Michigan when someone comes in late-they hammer you in."

Well, let me tell you, I was embarrassed!  I immediately put my head down and went to my bench.  Later that day, everybody was joking and teasing me and asking how it felt.  I don't think I was late the rest of that summer, but I did have the opportunity to hammer in others who were late.

The year is now 1991 and I am visiting the Milton, Florida, plant.  They have just finished watching a videotape about Armstrong where they saw the people in the factory hammering someone in as a demonstration of how to help support self-management. 

As I talked to several guys in the plant at Milton, they told me, "David, we just saw the video.  We want you to know we started hammering people in when they were late.  It really gets their attention!"

As I approached the next guy, I asked, "What do you think about hammering in people who are late?"

"Let me tell you, David, they hammered me in not once, but twice.  I didn't like it.  It's embarrassing.  It makes you not want to come in late again."

"I know that feeling, It happened to me."

"You mean they actually hammered you in?"

"Everybody gets hammered in," I replied.  "There are no exceptions."

The Moral of this Story

  1. Self-management needs support from coworkers.  There are occasions when coworkers must help enforce self-management - like when they hammered me in.  Why wait for a leader to solve a problem of absenteeism; go ahead and hammer someone in.
  2. You can hide from your boss, but not from your coworkers.
  3. Sometimes self-management needs support from management.  There are people who will not manage themselves, nor can coworkers; therefore, management must enforce the rules.
  4. Anyone can be hammered in.  If David Armstrong can be hammered in, anyone can.  There are no exceptions!  This is one of our core values; fairness.
  5. Who will be the first to swing their hammer?  If everybody waits for somebody else to start, it will never happen.  When they hammered me in, somebody had the guts to start it.  "Thank you" for helping me become a better person.
  6. Why does a hammer struck on a bench prevent people from coming to work late?  It's embarrassing, uncomfortable and not worth the extra few minutes-take it from David Armstrong, who learned the hard way!

© 1995 Parables into Profit


David M. Armstrong is Chief Executive Officer & President of Armstrong International, Inc., and has evolved into a highly renowned speaker, appearing on award-winning television programs that focus on business leadership. Armstrong has been heard on the airwaves across the United States, as his unique leadership abilities have been showcased in virtually every media venue.

Armstrong recently appeared on the "Leaders on Leadership" television program that aired to millions of viewers across the world. The "Leaders on Leadership" show has a list of previous guests that essentially consist of leaders that are a "who's who" in the business realm, having all led major well-known companies across the globe.

To learn more about David Armstrong and Armstrong International, visit and

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