Summer Learnin’…happened so fast! – Lessons Learned in the “Real World”
Last time we talked I gave a little background and walked you through some of my education. When we ended I was graduating college and looking for work in the… bum bum bummmmm, REAL WORLD! If you missed that post, please go check it out so you know where we’ve been. After school I was in Austin thinking about my next step. I knew I wanted to rule the world, but so did most of the 22 year old recent grads I knew. The other thing I knew is that I had bills, and I needed a job – who better to work for than my entrepreneur dad, Greg.
At the time he had transitioned into custom home building from horticultural brokerage and had a position with my name written all over it…“Apprentice,” aka cheap labor, or as my contractor brother (and craftsmanship mentor), Jason, called it, “little B!%@#”. That summer I learned about hard work. I learned how to move a pile of rock and debris into a dumpster, I learned that work isn’t over when the sun goes down, and most of all I learned about sales. The first two helped me build on my work ethic and made me realize that owning your own business means a lot of DIY, and putting in the extra hours to get it done. In the ‘trep world there isn’t always somebody to delegate to or some boss driving you to complete a project, you either get it done or you don’t eat. Period. The last thing, sales, was an extra gift that I wasn’t expecting. I soon realized that sales are what drive the world.
We’re all selling. We’re selling ourselves, our products, our views. How good you are determines how great your life can be. A good example is my wife Maggie. I don’t know how, but I sold her on the idea of marrying me, this is my most cherished sale. I sold myself to my first employer. Now I’m selling Primo Quesadilla Meals to my customers and my Vision to my Team Members. We’re all in sales whether you look at it directly or tangibly as in selling a product or service, or something more abstract like selling a vision or idea. I learned that summer that my dad was a great salesman for one key reason. Likeability. He was genuine, passionate and enthusiastic about his product, he cared to serve his customer’s needs, and he was about building the relationship, not just his bottom line. Sure, he was nervous about money, he wanted the sale, but not at the expense of being pushy or burning a bridge. He gave it time; he let the sales process work. I think great salesmen have these traits. Likeability, enthusiasm, tact, and patience.
These were the traits I set out to have. I wanted people to buy my brand. If you can sell your personal brand (cool thing is you don’t have to come up with a name, your parents did that for you!), you’ll never want for anything. You’ll always be a hot commodity in the market, you’ll always be able to find that loan to get you over the top, you’ll always find that last investor, or get that leader on your team that you so desperately need. Sales is entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship is sales, so if you aspire to be one, start building your brand. Start selling yourself. Build your brand on a stellar reputation, and a reliable product (you). Then, start selling products and services for others; learn how to build on relationships…that’s what it’s all about.
After the summer, I felt ready to start building my brand. The house was built, we sold it, and it was time for me to move to the Big D (that’s Dallas y’all)! I know we didn’t get too deep into how I took the leap into entrepreneurship this time, but I think I got ahead of myself last time. There is a lot that goes into the foundation and I want to make sure that is there before we get into “the leap.” Next time I’ll get into my first (and last) real job and how it impacted my entrepreneurial outlook.