The Saturday Identity

The Saturday Identity

First, I saw this tree today and I thought it looked interesting and perhaps a little more interesting in real life.

I have been attempting to write this post for a while. It is the beginning’s that are sometimes the most difficult but once I have one I can’t stop myself. Thank you my friend MK for letting me use this personal story:

“Just met a gentlemen who invited me to go in front of him at the parking meter. Said he had lots of time since retiring. I asked him how long he had been retired as he looked relatively young. Said he retired ten years ago after the doctors told him he had only two years to live. An inspiring moment for me on a rushed Monday morning.”

I really liked this story and I am sure everyone who reads it will take something a little different away from it.

These past few months I have had the freedom to a lot of alone time. Alone time is pretty scary. It’s like those Saturday’s when we have nothing planned and it feels like everyone else in this world is doing something fun and exciting except us. We try to rationalize and figure out what we can do differently to have a more exciting life. How do we fill up those empty spaces when the second hand on the clock stands frozen in time? Who are we and what is our identity?

I don’t know about you, but I am familiar with this frozen time on Saturdays. For whatever reason Saturday’s were the worse. The panic started creeping up as it got closer and closer to 5pm on Friday.

Yesterday my friend and I were talking about this. She took a year to herself in 2010 and well I am really happy that she did. That’s a selfish statement but it is true. I watched her let herself slow down. She allowed herself to feel, to philosophise about life, to peel away the layers. I had the privilege to be there and to hold her hand when she needed reassurance and you know what, it doesn’t make me a hero. She is the hero and she allowed me see the rawness (this apparently is not a word!), the fear, the human emotion of self-doubt and you know what, it is not weakness like we are told. What I saw was a women getting stronger everyday, following her dreams, being her person and that is strength. I am thankful to have her here today in my corner.

What does this have to do with frozen Saturday’s?

Identity.

When we allow ourselves to identify with who we are underneath all the layers. To acknowledge our emotion, accept it and reconcile it. When we ignore the stereotype, the media, the social pressure to be whatever it is that we are perceived to be on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Friday.

It can be lonely and it challenges us and ya maybe not everyone is going to think we are interesting, funny and like our art or whatever other ego driver’s that are important to us and that help us belong (big surprise to feed my ego – if we can laugh together and frankly I don’t care if you like me (but I secretly hope you do haha), if we’ve laughed together that means a smile and I love smiles! and as for interesting, I am quirky (aren’t we all) 🙂 I accept it)

So to those contemplating stripping away the layers, identifying with yourself versus what surrounds you: your career, your friends, your lover, your family, its pretty rewarding and I dare say…freeing!! Don’t get me wrong, we need surroundings but it’s easy to get lost in them too.

I know one day will come and I’ll need to rejoin the marching band and start identifying with more than the bare essential surroundings and lose some of my freedom. I’ll stop pretending to be retired, spending my days living in a moment of time and quite frankly that day scares me. I am sure that I’ll have a slight panic attack reporting for my first day of work. Will I be able to hold out and not become so involved that I forget who I am? Will I continue to look forward to Saturday’s regardless of the lack of a “plan”?

I am not sure, but I am going to do my damnest and I’ll be sure to use my best defence in the face of adversity; the dumbfounded look of a stunned bird – that is sure to keep me grounded cause who cares if I look silly as long as I am free 🙂

Finding An Employer Worth Emulating: A Thing Of The Past?

I must share this opinion article from the New York Times of a company that culture changed so dramatically it became unrecognizable to it’s employee: Why I am Leaving Goldman Sachs.

Networking, Business Links

Over the last few months, not to sound feminist, I have been looking for supportive, women in business groups. Here is a list of links that I have found helpful, either forwarded from friends or that I stumbled across that have been useful:

http://intrepid-llc.com/ – Marketing Site

http://www.meetup.com/Become-a-Thought-Leader/ – Meet-up Group

http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/ – Women’s Magazine

http://www.positivefabulouswomen.com/ – Women Networking Group

Women in Business (Toronto & GTA) – LinkedIn Group

2 down, 63 to go

2 down, 63 to go

That’s my sales goal for the year, 65. I have successfully put down two sales. I am told my first one was the most difficult I’ll ever encounter, in fact it was the most difficult that the store had seen since it opened in 1968. There were a few moments that I didn’t want to keep going, where the benefit of succeeding felt out-weighed by the need for sanity!

It is so different waking up in the morning and remembering that it’s not about putting on the best suit and a confident face; it’s about being approachable and meeting a very real target. The toolbox I pick from in morning is a little different, I convince myself if Frank Abagnale Jr. could pass himself off as a pilot, doctor and legal prosecutor, the impossible is possible if I just throw-out both the rule book and type-cast. I pick passion and enthusiasm, without these I might as well just crawl back in bed.

Today I am thankful for my mentor who would spend hours coaching and giving me direction. The part that resounds with me today is creating personal brand and preparing mentally for whatever is going to happen the minute I step outside my door; personal brand being the characteristics that distinguish my abilities to deliver over my competitors. I must admit, there were days it was difficult to dig inside and be the better person and work on building personal brand. It was easier to focus on the details at hand and ignore the bigger picture.

My sales target forces me to work on personal brand in increments of 10 minutes or less. Unlike the world I knew, sales is much less forgiving and brand becomes extremely important. The politic is being able to demonstrate to your customers in a short time that you are qualified, will respect them more than anyone else in the business and will not let them down throughout the entire process.

Perched in my corporate tree house, sales seemed like murky water with no beginning or end. I don’t kid myself, I realize I sold every day in my job; I was selling ideas and solutions to business problems that cost little in resource and time. I could scuttle off on my own and find a way to make something happen that seemed impossible. It was targeted and specific; I worked hard at understanding systems, programs, and wait for it…..Microsoft Excel! It is true; it can be powerful and useful in the right context. The very thing I wanted to escape after graduating as a programmer I was holding on to.

So here I am, doing something that doesn’t require me to be good at Excel, or systems or programs. In fact the only technical skill needed to make a sale is a pencil and piece of paper!

This gets me back to my mentor and his consistent, patient prodding to build brand.

My first customer came into the store looking for something used and left with something new. A car is a highly emotional purchase, the second biggest transaction most of us will make behind purchasing a home. At the end of it all, the constant thread that kept the transaction going and tempers even, turned out to be constant communication, all part of the brand. There can be no room for fuzzy chance, it either is or it isn’t. If there are shades of grey, the grey must be outlined in black or white.

Drawing the line was important for my customer and it took everything in me to be consistent in tone and energy from the start of the sale to the very end. It was staying true to the brand that my customer had become accustomed to, the one they respected and trusted that had my customer leaving with a smile.

It will take time to perfect my personal brand but all in all, it is sure to be a rewarding experience.

2 gum drops

I have made it to the end of my second week at my new job, learning all about sales or should I say, all about product that I will be expected to start selling.

The first day on the job was anything but easy.  I had just come from an 8-year professional relationship at a corporate office and the sensation was as though I had run the 100 meter dash directly into a cement wall. I battled thoughts of “did I do the right thing”, “what have I done”, “will it be possible for me to make enough to pay my mortgage” to just sheer panic. I have never felt like crying for no reason as much as I did that first day.

I felt suspended between two worlds, one that I had left and the other that was a huge unknown. It was just as scary thinking of going backwards as it was to go forward. I made it through the day with a smile on my face only to land at home in a heap of tears and confusion. I couldn’t talk without crying even though I didn’t feel sad, it just seemed so much better to converse in a waterfall of tears!

Fast forward to day 9, by now my coworkers are looking me in the eye instead of the more popular sideways look. They are all concerned for me, especially the fact that I have this innate ability to sit at my desk and find things to do on my computer for 8 hours straight without blinking. They don’t realize this is one of many skills I have honed over the last 8 years. If anything I am an expert at being busy with a computer and a keyboard.

The first week I madly resorted to tried and true skills, I started making product cheat sheets and price charts. The first time I opened Excel at my new desk, I almost cried at the thought that there was absolutely no reason in my new role to even open the program. I didn’t have any vLookups to write or Pivot tables to create and manipulate and no large Excel data files to concatenate. It was a freedom that I was afraid to enjoy!

The day I arrived at my new job, as expected, I was kindly introduced to the staff and was shown my new desk. The cubicle had been vacant for a few months and there were random things littered throughout. As I like my desk to be clean and paperless where possible, I started sifting through the drawers to my left.

I found packages of instant Oatmeal, pens, paper, binders full of sales contracts, paper clips, a three-hole punch, a stapler, sales material and a variety of other desk goods that made it directly into the waste basket. Once I was done cleaning my drawers, I eyed a filing cabinet sitting cramped in the corner at the entrance to my cubicle. It was in the way of getting to the two empty chairs on the opposite side of my desk.

I walked over to the filing cabinet to investigate the contents. It was then out of the corner of my eye I noticed a fellow coworker bounding towards me with a gaggle of followers, yelling “No, no, no, don’t touch that, that’s mine”.

Incredulously, I looked up and repeated “This cabinet is yours?”

“Yes”, my coworker replied, “and it is my stuff inside”.

Humph, I gently asked if we might be able to move the cabinet, perhaps to a more deserving location that wasn’t blocking the passage way to my empty seats.

“No, we must leave it here, the owner of the store said to put it there. It used to be in my cubicle” as my coworker pointed to their cubicle, “but it was taking up too much space” (similar to how it is taking up space in my cubicle).

“Well perhaps we can talk to our direct manager and come to an agreement on where we might be able to move this cabinet?” I asked

“The owner said we must put it here” my coworker repeated.

I realized this was very important to my coworker but wasn’t expecting the following line.

“How about we leave it where it is for now, and we’ll see how well you do and if you are still here in a couple of months, then we’ll talk about moving the filing cabinet”.

Did your mouth just drop? Mine sure did. I was still trying to figure out why I had left a well-paying career for a cubicle with a stubborn filing cabinet that was taking up space and now was being told in no uncertain terms that the odds were stacked against me!

After the flock of coworkers left the area, I quietly pushed the filing cabinet from one end of my cubicle to the other, opening up my seating area.