Well friends, if you've been around me any length of time, you've probably have heard me say "you can be anything you want in this life." And while I still believe that, I have learned something else about that statement in the last couple of weeks. "You can be anything you want in this life, as long as you pick just one thing."
Coming up in the beginning of April, I'll have been in the printing business for 35 years now. My first 7 years were spent running printing presses. Followed by 14 years of working in and managing our Prepress department. Since 2001 I've been in Sales.
Having worked my way through every area of the company now, I honestly believe that Sales is both the most stressful and the most rewarding position in any company. It has also changed the dynamic of my relationship with the company. Rather than being a part of the 35 – 50 people we've had on staff during my first 21 years there, my sales position somehow makes them dependent on me. So for the last 14 years, I've become incredibly aware of the dependance those 35 – 50 people have on me doing my job. And every year that my sales increases, the other non-sales staff members become even more dependent on those sale to provide them with a continuos stream of revenue.
One important thing to remember, no matter where you are, or what you do for a living, someone in your company is responsible for sales. It's more likely that there is more than one sales guys out looking for customers to buy whatever it is you make. The important thing to remember here is that if sales is not doing there job, everyone suffers. Because in every company, without sales, everyone goes home. In nearly every business you can think of, nothing happens that doesn't begin with a sale.
This is why in my case, and in many others I'm sure, it's important that we just pick one of the things we want to be in this life and focus on that. In my case, this need to focus on the career I've spent my life working in became incredibly obvious. My January and February numbers were half of what they should be this year. 70% of what they were last year. What I should have seen all along is that without focussing nearly 100% of my efforts on my sales responsibilities, I was jeopardizing the way of life of all those people i've spent years working with. It doesn't end with them either. You see, my way of life is in jeopardy too.
In the last few years, I've wanted to do something different with my life. I'm not sure why, except that perhaps I wanted to put my name on something. Something that would outlive me. And while out trying to become something else, I lost sight of the thing that I am, and the people whom I've worked with every day of my life for the last 35 years. People that I leave my mark on every day when I do the job that they expect of me.
I had a conversation with a gentleman in my life who rose very rapidly in a large business that was once based here in Bristol, before being sold out to another company. I had the opportunity to ask him what his mindset was during his upward trajectory in this company. Did he always have the goal of reaching the top of his business? Or was it something else? Much to my surprise, he told me that it was something else. He focussed on doing the best job possible in the position he was in, and that in and of itself opened the door to the next position.
Little did I know that his his story of a simple goal—becoming the best in his position at his company would become so important for me to understand in the coming days. You see, while I was out trying to become a writer and an entrepreneur, I lost sight of the thing I should be focusing all my efforts on. I had somehow forgotten just how much those 35+ people I've worked much of my life with really depended on me. But that fact was made clearer to me on this past Monday.
The question was simple. Did I want to become this writer, or this entrepreneur? Or did I want to make this thing I've done all my life my main focus? I certainly realized the gravity of this situation I'd put myself in, but the answer was just as simple as the question.
This question wasn't mine to begin with, it was put to me by the guys I've been friends with all my adult life. And as any good friend would do, they would have supported any choice I had made when asking that question. For me, that question led me back to my key take aways from the conversation I had just had over the weekend. In fact, it's point was already heavy on my mind before the question was even asked. Now more than ever, it was important that I focus all my efforts on being the best Print Sales Person that I could be.
I'm a printer, I always have been. I've got printer's ink in my blood and every printing job begins with a sale. Although I have done nearly every task in the manufacturing part of this business, my sales position has been more rewarding – in every way you might image – that anything I had ever done before. And for that matter, anything else I might do in the future. If I were to leave my mark on something, it needs to be the company, and the people I've spent all of my adult life with.
So friends, my book might never be finished and Destination Nation may never be launched. These things will become my hobby, and as such will only receive attention in the few hours each week that aren't consumed by my job and family commitments. Both both this and my other blog at http://thebristolline.com, will likely see little effort, past a monthly post – when I have the time.
I appreciate your contributions to my blog – both your time and commentary. I hope you'll keep coming back, and looking for new articles. In the mean time, if you are in the position to buy some print product from me, I hope you'll reach out to me soon.
Thank you so much for your time,