I was somewhere around 19 when I landed my first the first suit and tie job. I was an entry-level salesman in the garment business. And when I say entry-level, I mean the I was at the lowest of the low of the industry.
I sold identification items, which, in less-than-fancy terms are the little labels sewn in the collar that irritate the back of your neck. This was my first real job. Although the item was necessary, it was still at the bottom of the priority list. I pitched the production managers garment manufacturers to sell them and create a new relationship, which was tough at best.
I was a kid in a suit with the idea that somehow, I would strike it rich before I reached the age of 24. I thought I would make it big and be partner but I never thought knew how bad the rejection factor would be. I was yelled at, screamed at, tossed out of offices, and shown the door by angry production heads. I had someone throw a stack of papers at me. In fairness though, had I been bigger or if I were grown, something tells me I would have been treated differently. I think the fact that I was a baby faced kid made it easier to mistreat me. Ether way, like I said, I was at an entry level sales job. I was the lowest of the low. I was often rejected and often deflated, It was hard to keep going. It was hard to continue knocking on doors with my best foot forward. But such is the life of the salesman.
Someone told me about the law of averages. They told me the more times I hear “No,” the closer I am to hearing, “Yes.”
As true as this statement is, still, it’s hard to keep moving when all you hear is “No.”
It was hard to keep a good spirit when it seemed like I was always on the wrong end of a bad deal.
Believe it or not, “No,” is not the worst answer. At least “No,” is very clear. The worst answer are the fake ones. The worst to hear is “Yes,” and then I would head back to the office with a story about an order that was on its way. I would price the item and figure the shipping. I would write the paperwork and count the commission check as if it were already in the bank.
I would depend on the order and show it to my boss to keep him from weighing on me to make more sales.
Better yet, I would depend on the dignity of a verbal agreement and a handshake; only to send out the order to be signed, then sit and wait, and in the end, the order never came my way.
This was disheartening. This meant that I had to face my boss. This meant i would have to face the snicker and laugh of the other salesman that sat in the cubicle next to me.
In fairness, I worked in an unfair setting. Aside from the owner, there were only two salesmen. I was one of them and Marc was the other. Marc had been there much longer than me. His mother worked there too. She answered the phones. Her name was Eleanor.
Eleanor was far from soft-spoken and even further from fair. If a call came in from a new client (unless the order was small) the new client’s information went on Marc’s desk. Not mine.
I never liked Eleanor. I never liked Marc either. This was a hard time for me. It was my first real introduction into the working world. Each day, I went in and every day, I faced new challenges. I was discouraged and frustrated. Most days, I was beaten before I walked through the door.
It wasn’t fair. Nothing about this place was fair. I swore I would never be successful here. I knew I could never be successful because there were just too many things against me. There was Eleanor. There was Marc. There was the the problems with competition and there was a problem with my spirit because try as I might, most manufacturers already had a solid relationship with their suppliers.
Also, aside from the rejection and aside from the delivery problems from overseas factories, aside from payment issues of clients that paid slow or never paid at all and took away my hopes for a commission check; aside from my failure to reach my quota, I had to push forward and continue. I had to call new clients. No matter how many times I heard the word “No,” I had to keep going until I hear the word, “es” and hope the yes was to an order big enough to help me reach my draw against my commission.
Of course, I blamed everyone around me. I blamed my problems on the industry. I blamed my failures on my co-workers. I blamed the economy and the outsourcing of Made in America products that came in from overseas factories.
I never took a look at me. I never considered my mindset. All I considered was the rejection and the problems in my office. All I thought about was the distraction of my emotions.
Everything was against me. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t my fault either. However, I never thought about the ability of my mindset. I gave in too easily. I gave up on accounts and quit when I should have pushed forward.
I think about a machine. You push the button and it turns on, right? Think about your car. Does the car feel bad if we are lost? The answer is no. Machines work. That is all. Tools fit their job. On most occasions, the problem is usually with the operator and not the machine.
There is no emotion with a machine. There is no personal internalization of insults or rejection. A tool is a tool and a machine is a machine; each has a specific job and each does its job without argument or emotion. Machines are not distracted; that’s the operator’s problem.
Given to distraction, I was never able to use my tools or my talent. Instead, I was caught up in the emotional thought; always looking for the failure and always waiting for something to go wrong.
One thing Eleanor used to say is, “In 100 years, no one will care.”
Although I never liked her, I never forgot this saying. She would say this to her son Marc when he would seem discouraged. To me, she never said many encouraging things. Best, if any, the most encouraging thing I ever heard from Eleanor was “Goodbye,” and that is when I quit.
But she was right about that 100 year thing.100 years from now, no one will care. And I have news; no one will care a lot sooner than that.
I sat in on a podcast last night and discussed the difference between emotional and analytical thinking. Emotional thinking comes with distractions. Emotional thinking regards people like Marc, who in fact, had no business in my thoughts to begin with. Emotional thinking spends time worrying about people like Eleanor and her little games, when in fact, if I chose to focus my attention towards new business and spent more time focused on my paperwork, I might have made it as a label salesman.
Any time I would take a loss or something went wrong with one of my sales, Eleanor would tell me, “Not everyone is cut out for this business.”
And she was right too.
This place was not a good fit for me. Safe to say I never had much of a fair chance as a label salesman but life has nothing to do with being fair.
For a long time after my departure from the label biz, I used to swear if I ever saw Marc somewhere on the street, say like, walking along and minding his own business; I swore I would hit him. I thought to myself, “I’m gonna hit ya . . . and you’re gonna fall . . . and I’m gonna laugh”
As fate would have it, I saw Marc in the city one day. I had grown into myself. I wasn’t that young kid in a suit and tie anymore. Marc looked the same except he seemed to be a little smaller.
He had the same bad haircut. He had the same mousy look to him. He had the same sneer. He was just as skinny and bony looking and I assume he still believed he would be the first Jewish Capo in the mob, which is unlikely at best, but to Marc, he saw himself as a bit of a tough guy.
His Mom was right though. In 100 years, no one will care. I was right too because it was a lot less than 100 years and I didn’t care anymore either.
Maturity is more than behavior. Also, maturity has nothing to do with age and can be circumstantial.
Maturity is an honest understanding of accountability.
So what, the Job sucked. Marc sucked too, His mom was a mean-spirited woman that stunk from bad perfume and had a voice that make nails on a chalkboard sound like phone sex —truth is, I took this on me. Truth is, instead of following a plan and strategy; I gave in to emotional thinking and failed before I even tried.
That company I worked for sold and closed a long time ago. Marc found himself out of a job and the time for exalting himself came to an end.
But I get it . . .
I’ve seen what happens when pride gets in the way. I’ve seen what happens when fear gets in the way. Put simply, I’ve seen what happens when emotion gets in the way.
I believe passion and emotion has its place but strategy and plans achieve goals.
Imagine where we would be if we decided the word “No,” meant nothing personal and rather than internalize every rejection, we pushed forward. Imagine we just kept moving until our goals were achieved instead of given in to an imaginary defeat.