Last week I talked about how inherited conversations cancreate mental barriers. Those mental barriers create a mindset that can derail personal or professional aspirations. Today I would like to use myself as an example of what happens when the mental barriers arenot there.
In the past, I was a sales trainer. I taught sales people the psychology of sales. As part of that, I taught clients to stand their ground, even when a prospective client says no or becomes antagonistic. In many cases, the prospect may be testing the sales person. It was said many prospects buy the fight.
Many of those sales training philosophies supported me as I advanced in my career. In one particular case, it made the difference between losing the opportunity and getting hired in an industry for which I had no experience – management consulting.
In September of 2002, I was looking to make a career change. To prepare myself, I researched the industry and read 14 books between September and December of that year. The topics were about consulting and leadership development. By November, I looked at a number of consulting and leadership development companies. There was one that stood out most for me. Instead of calling or sending my resume, I decided to do what I trained sales people to do, which was to walk in cold off the street.
It was the week of Thanksgiving. I assumed many executives would be around. Like always, I walked pass the security guard as though I owned the building. I opened the door to the prospective company and asked for the president. The receptionist told me he was not available and besides, he never sees anyone without an appointment. I told her it was ok. I’m Ted Santos. He’ll see me. Once again, she said he sees no one without an appointment and he is very strict with his calendar. I said well I’m Ted Santos. He’ll meet with me. It’s ok. Just let him know I am here.
She didn’t look too happy. However, she went to get him and came back to tell me that he was busy. She instructed me call back to make an appointment.
In my mind, I had a mission. My mission was more important than the president’s or receptionist’s desire to get rid of me. I asked if she told him that Ted Santos was here. She said yes. I told her if she would just let him know Ted Santos is here, everything will be fine. I assured her that my conversation with him would take less than five minutes. So she went back to his office again. This time he came out.
President: Hi, how can I help you?
Me: Hi, I’m Ted Santos. Can you and I speak somewhere privately? (The receptionist and one employee had become my audience.)
President: No! The receptionist implied you might be someone I know personally. So I came out. I don’t know you and I’m not going anywhere with you. What do you want?
Me: You need me. If you hire me, you and I will make a lot of money.
President: Then leave your brochure and get out.
Me: I don’t have a brochure. Besides, if I left one, you would only throw it away.
President: Whatever you’re selling, I don’t want. Leave your brochure and go.
Me: I’m here to work in your company. I have an extraordinary amount of sales experience. I can help you get your dream clients.
President: Well, I’m not hiring. Leave your resume. When I’m hiring, I call you. Now get out.
Me: No. I don’t have a resume.
President: (Now annoyed) How can you look for a job without a resume?
Me: (At this point, I think he’s testing me to see what kind of salesman I am. I stand my ground) If I had one, you would treat it like a brochure. You would throw it away. So I don’t carry resumes.
President: So what do you expect from me?
Me: A face to face meeting.
President: I said I’m not hiring. Besides, without a resume, I don’t know what you do.
Me: Then let’s schedule a time to meet and we can talk about how I can help you. Get out your calendar and let me know the date you’re available.
President: If you don’t have a brochure or resume, what do you expect me to do? I don’t know you and I’ve asked you to get out of my office three times. WHAT-DO-I-HAVE-TO-DO-TO-GET-YOU-OUT-OF-MY-OFFICE! (He yelled slowly and firmly.)
Me: (Now I’m thinking that I may have crossed a line. I slowly walk towards the door. In the doorway I stop and he is next to me.) My job was to get you out of your office and speak with me.
President: (With a big grin he chuckles) Mission accomplished. Now you can leave.
President: What do you want then? You got me out of my office.
Me: I need an appointment to meet with you.
President: I’ll never do that without your resume. Email it to me and I’ll call you if I’m interested.
Me: No. Let’s schedule a meeting now and I’ll bring my resume.
President: I don’t work like that. Send it to me.
Me: No. I need a meeting. You will never regret hiring me. You just don’t know it yet. And we’ll both make a lot of money.
President: Ok. Tell you what. Email me your resume today. Call my assistant to schedule a phone call in 2 weeks.
Me: No. I want a face to face meeting.
President: You have to do this way. Send it and schedule a meeting. I promise I’ll take your call.
Me: (I looked him in his eyes and remained silent.)
President: I promise. Really. I’ll take your call.
Me: Are you being nice to get rid of me?
President: No. I already tried to get rid of you. It didn’t work. I promise to take your call if you make an appointment with my assistant.
Me: Ok. It was a pleasure. I look forward to the call.
President: So do I.
When I called him, we had a great conversation. In January, he asked me to come in and be interviewed by the partners and other consultants.
In that interview, I sat in front of 10 people. The president told them to be hard on me. Their job was to cook me on a grill and flip me over and cook me until I was burnt. I simply thought it was another test. Instead, I flipped the interview and interviewed them.
After dragging his feet, he eventually he hired me. I started working for them in March 2003.
To the observer, it may sound as though I was persistent. Persistent never crossed my mind. I was highly committed to make a career change. Since I was trained to get to decision makers, I used my training to demonstrate that I was an excellent salesman. When the conversation became difficult, I saw it as a test, not an obstacle.
For me, I had no mental barriers that told me to abandon my commitments. At no point was I worried about how I looked or negative repercussions for taking a stand. If I had those concerns, I would have walked out of the office the first time the receptionist told me I had to have a meeting. If I had a belief system that told me something was wrong, I would have left when the president was upset. However, I was trained to handle antagonistic prospects. Therefore, in my eyes, I had a clear path to fulfill my mission. When you are prepared, clearly know what you want and have stripped away mental barriers, the path to your goals becomes clear and much easier to reach. Only the observer in the stands sees persistence. For me, on the field, I only saw my commitment.
What do you think? I would love to hear your feedback. And I’m open to ideas. Or if you want to write me about a specific topic, let me know.