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Growing, Learning, Confidence and Humility

March 9, 2012
Know How to Forget What You Know So You Can Know Something Else You Do Not Know (Grow)
Know How to Find Out What You Do Not Know (Learn)
Know What You Know (Be Confident)
Know What You Do Not Know (Be Humble)

April 2011, I began a series of posts exploring the topic of Being an Expert. The first six posts were completed during a time that afforded me the opportunity to really reflect on those crazy and stupid moments that led up to the changes at the Plymouth Soccer Club. Since then, life has been turned on its head. Ironic that my last post was actually on August 12, 2011, the day before I took a significant step that allowed me to take the last 4 steps of Being an Expert and arriving to the place I’m at today. Granted, this doesn’t mean I feel I am an expert at much of anything, but I have come to the realization that each of the 10 steps in the process have presented themselves to me.

August 13, 2011 – The plan that had been formulating for the week prior comes to a head when I finally contact my former employer, Peter Brown, about possibly coming back given the situation in Syracuse is not working. Two days later, while I’m back in Syracuse, Peter calls to say that one of their salesmen has put in his resignation and that he would like to put in his recommendation for me to come back in that position. Given that my objective is to bridge a, hopefully, short-term gap of leaving Raymond and getting back in to SAP consulting, I tell Peter that I would gratefully take on the challenging role.

Although I tell this as if it were a quick, reactive agreement, it most definitely took me a longer time to talk myself in to it than what I’m portraying here. Just a couple of months prior, during a personal exercise, I wrote that something I never wanted to do in a career was be a salesperson or have to talk on the phone for extended periods. Here I was taking a path that completely went against this declaration. Little did I truly realize that I was taking the step to “Know How to Forget What You Know So You Can Know Something Else You Do Not Know.” By taking on this sales role, I was learning to Grow!

As fate would have it, I didn’t have to wait for my interview with my former employer to make the change as the Raymond Corp took the opportunity on my 6-month review to amicably part ways since it was no longer my intentions to move to Syracuse and it was clear I was not happy there. That gave me the opportunity to move forward with the plans already in motion, but to also interview for another opportunity with a major automotive company in the Detroit area that would put me back in a SAP role.

After interviewing with that company and my former employer, it was my intention to prove to myself that I could do something different but in a role that I felt I had more confidence given my past knowledge of the product and company. I also felt the role with my former employer would have a greater impact given its ‘proximity’ to the owner and other decision makers. This opportunity would allow me to grow and learn! The following week, I accepted the position of Business Consultant back with Real Green Systems and informed the SAP-related position that I just felt more comfortable with going in that direction – even though the pay was significantly less!

Fast forward to late January, 2012. In this role of Salesperson/Business Consultant, I learned that I definitely knew what I was writing about the previous year when I said I didn’t want to be in sales. Although I have exceeded my personal sales goals for the short 5 ½ months in the position, as well as exceeded the commission goals, it has been a drag on my psyche and energy. It has gone against every desire and personal belief I’ve ever had, not to mention being in an environment that simply doesn’t suit me. Yes, I’m oversimplifying this for this post, so I’ll just leave it at that for the time being.

Here’s where things begin to change once again. Although I’m in the midst of closing 8 new sales that help the company achieve record sales for the month of January, and doing the same in February, I’m finally honest with myself that this is not the best long-term career choice for me. My head and heart are still focused on how I can help my former youth soccer club and getting back to working with GuiXT on a regular basis. I had taken on a small, remote GuiXT contract to help a company but it has been moving slowly which works just fine with my regular travel schedule and fits with their expectations. Doing the work again really inspires me and challenges me in the ways I feel most confident and effective. With this realization, I made a definitive effort to put my resume back in the market and search out SAP and GuiXT opportunities.

The calls and emails came flooding in! Most are irrelevant to my experience or what I can do regarding travel or relocation, but it was good to see there were more opportunities than in the past. Then the real opportunities came in – GuiXT contracts! In the past, I’d be lucky to see 1 or 2 new contract opportunities a year. In just one week, 3 opportunities were presented to me! At this moment, I am very close to closing on one while the other contracts are on hold until later in the year.

The only words to best describe these opportunities is… THANK YOU!

Thank you to Real Green for giving me the chance to learn a new skill – sales – while also learning that it is something I really don’t enjoy. I don’t enjoy the pressure to meet unknown sales goals, I don’t enjoy the haggling with prospective purchasers and I don’t enjoy the seemingly fake efforts to give the customer a “great tool to help them grow their business.” It just all feels so disingenuous.

Thank you to my wife, Tiffany, for putting up with my constant changes. Although she just goes along with it, I know that it can be stressful whether our budget is under control.

Thank you to my kids for understanding when I have to travel or work extra hours at my other contracts. I’m grateful they get to be kids and experience a life that is not as insane as my childhood was.

I hope to report in about 2 weeks that I will be working in Atlanta on a long-term GuiXT contract. If not, I’m confident that other great opportunities will present themselves.

Oh, as for soccer, well that will just have to wait for now. If the timing is right, I’ll be able to help out with some assistant coaching, ref a few games or just help where needed. Although my heart lies with the kids and the club, I just have to move beyond all those politics and past headaches. If I’m meant to be a part of their world, it will happen.

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