My career has been made up of three acts, each one has taught me something valuable that has allowed me to succeed in the next act
Act One - The Lesson
My very first job out of college was selling cameras at my favorite camera store. It was part of a very large and successful chain. It didn't take long for me to learn one of the most valuable lessons of my career. By the end of my third month I became the #1 salesperson. I had no idea how I did it, how I could be out selling all of these older and much more experienced salespeople. After the third month of being the #1 salesperson and still totally confused as to why, I actually asked my manager how this could be happening? He told me something that I have never forgotten. He said, "It's because you care."
I did care. I cared about my customers and I cared about my level of performance, and now I knew how important that was and I cared even more. That single response has served me my entire career.
Act Two - The Voice
Coming to the realization of how important caring was to my success was only the beginning of my "Success" education.
In my late 20's, I started a new sales job, and at the end of the first week, we all sat around talking when one of the guys turned to me and said, "So, what's your goal here?" I was caught completely off guard, and in typically Rory fashion, when I'm caught off guard I said the first thing that came to my head, "To be the #1 salesperson in the store." That didn't go over so well. He said, "That's pretty cocky considering the company you're in." I managed to get out of the conversation and we went home for the weekend. I didn't think about it again until Monday morning when I came back to the store.
Suddenly it dawned on me what I had said two days earlier. I told everyone that I've been working with for all of a week, that I was going to kick their butts, that I was going to be the #1 salesperson in the store. There was only two ways this was going down, either I eat crow or I did exactly what I said I was going to do and quickly. I started pacing the store at 90 mph, thinking about my short career, all the things that have worked and all the things that didn't work, and what was the pattern that was going to get me out of this with my dignity intact - when I heard a voice!
Seriously! And I don't hear voices. The "voice" said, "You have to do it right! You have to do it right!" Strangely enough... OK, even more strange, no translation was necessary, I knew exactly what it meant. It meant that in order for me to become the #1 salesperson in the store I had to become the very best salesperson I was capable of becoming, no shortcuts, no cutting corners. And that is exactly what I did. By the end of my first full month in that store I was the #1 salesperson, and that next-to-never changed.