At the interview for what became my first job out of college, I was grilled, questioned and screened incessantly. A quota hire (they were HAVING to hire 3 women out of 10) it seemed that I was more of a risk than a man, even though I had a 3.8 grade point average on a Masters in Science, while working two jobs and totally supporting myself. Because of this, I am still for equal rights in hiring. If not for that, I would have never been given a chance.
I had gotten to the final interview with two other companies, and they both hired another individual, citing the fact that I had no sales experience on my resume. Being a creative person, I contacted a friend I knew that owned a juice company, and asked if I could include on my resume that I had sold for him. With that added information, I nabbed this job.
Unknowingly, I have always been in sales. From the time I was six and pleaded with my father to buy me a horse, I have been asking for, wanting something, listening for that ever sweeter “Yes”. Because I was effective then (I begged for a horse from my sixth to my ninth birthday, never giving up, finally getting the required prize in the form of Sam, my first horse who cost $185 and was a sixteen hand sorrel with flaxen mane and tail.)
I took from that first major yes that changed my life, that I could do ANYTHING. In the face of immense criticism, horrible objections (a horse will wreck our fences, I prayed for the days horses were off this farm and you want to bring them back again, why don’t you just race go-karts with your brother?). So everyday, I planned, schemed, and strategized to fulfill my desire. It seemed impossible; my dad was relentless with his no. Yet, my desire continued.
I look at this time as the biggest gift I was given in my youth. I learned not from my Dad saying yes, but from all those years that he said no, that if I continued on with my quest, was laser focused, whatever it was in life that I wanted would become mine.
It has been that way ever since, with perhaps the exception of a few men. I have acquired everything I have ever quested for. A third degree Black belt in Tae Kwon Do, two reserve-world championships with my horses in Western Riding, and many thousands of small goals along the way, from the perfect 100 needed on the final to score an A in animal science, to continuing to create art while faceting a corporate career.
When my cousin and I were in 4h, selling the obligatory candy bars, we drove into the neighboring town and went door-to-door selling them, having a selling dozens of boxes more than the other 4her’s.
Then there was the sorority in college, modeling the amazing fun behavior of a group of women so intensely that others wanted to be part of it too- having parties to convince them of this fact. Finding out objections to why they wouldn’t join and changing those into a yes.
I even joined a group called “dairy club”, and took it from 9 members to over a hundred: a group that had raucous parties because we had so much money from our amazing fundraisers. We did everything from trimming cattle for local farmers to bringing a cow on campus, and having a “guess the weight” contest where the winner got a keg of beer. It was genius: the students learned more about dairy cattle and had fun in the process. I learned from those giddy days in college that anything was possible, and the crazier the idea just meant the more fun it was to carry out. I would be out at a bar, get a few drinks in me, and start selling everyone I met on the advantages to joining the dairy club. The enrollment went up to 186, and at the Ag Banquet where all agriculture groups attended, well, the whole of dairy club could be found in the bar, not the banquet room. Luckily our professor-sponsor knew we were having good clean fun, and went along with everything. That is the thing about thinking out of the box- it helps to be supported by someone who sees your vision, or at the very least believes in you, so it doesn’t matter that they don’t understand totally.
Coming from the farm, where I milked cows for 7 hours a day while also going to high school and dating, college away from home held long, luxijurious breaks of time from my prior schedule. I couldn’t have that! Plus everything looked so wonderfully interesting, and there I was with time on my hands. I got permission (as a first semester freshman) to take an overload of 21credits. I didn’t end my expansion there. I also pledged a sorority, went out for the dairy judging team and made it, was hired to teach dairy judging at the college level, took a very prestigious job as student secretary for the dean of agriculture, and was elected vice-president of my dorm floor.
When I showed up drunk (after a pledge exchange where a Frat made us do a scavenger hunt for bottles of wine, and we had to drink each one before we could look for the next one) at a dorm floor meeting, my report was asked for and I was passed out on the heater. After that incident, I overheard other dorm dwellers, taking bets that I was going to drop out, or more precisely, flunk out. When the grades came in, and I had a 3.5, while my long-suffering roommate who didn’t go out or join anything the whole semester received a 3.53. After that, my dorm mates didn’t much talk to me. Seemed it was a buzz kill to be so much more adequate than most others.
I sold my major professor when I was getting my Masters at Tucson that I could both bartend and waitress, work the Research assistantship I had, and still get straight A’s. I knew I could, because I had been bartending and waitresses behind his back already.
Sales are that spark, that excitement that says: “it doesn’t have to be that way”. That there is something better, there are CHOICES. Don’t get me wrong, I fall on the side of the “Creators” not those who “make money off of the creators”. Now, for the first time however I see that sales is really creating too: it is coming up with a better way, an new way of seeing things, expanding a belief about what is possible. For customers that are slugging thru their dreary day, a good salesperson brings in the magic, the joy of a happy interlude, a way to create something better, and the rock solid friendship of one that truly cares about the customers.
That was another lesson I learned in sales, to truly care about the people that I interact with.
From early on, I knew the rules could be bent if not outright broken. I knew I was special, that I could do more than most, was brighter, shinier than most. I come alive while working with creating, and that spark feeds my art, my ideas, and my sales. It also gives me a life that is fun, enjoyable and creates growth.
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