FROM SECRETARY TO SALES STAR
My personal story
Growing up it was my dream to become a lawyer.
My father, however, was deadset against a university education for his daughters.
“What’s the point?” I remember him saying.
“A few years from now you’ll meet a man, get married, have kids, and that’ll be the end of you.”
Such an archaic attitude I thought in this era of women’s lib, cultural change and technological innovation.
I had big plans for my future and I was willing to work hard to make sure they happened.
But my pleas fell on deaf ears so I took the next best option and completed my formal education with a diploma from Melbourne’s leading secretarial college.
I settled as best I could into the role of PA to the GM of an international business machines manufacturer.
Even though I knew better things were out there waiting for me.
I created my own opportunity
The company had a showroom that fronted on to one of the busiest streets in the city of Melbourne.
At lunchtime people would stop to admire our display of newly released office equipment and gadgetry from around the world.
Anyone who dared to come inside was quickly shooed away by receptionist Liz as all the sales reps and managers were at the local pub watching The Ashes and tucking into a barmy army parmy and a beer.
I knew how to use all of our products so I decided to try my hand at selling them.
Long boozy lunchtime meetings became a daily occurrence.
So, once the coast was clear, I took up my position in the showroom cleaning and rearranging the display and inviting people who stopped by to come on in and take a closer look.
I enlisted the help of Joey, an awkward teenage typewriter technician from the service department who was willing to do almost anything to gain favour.
On cue Joey would start asking me a repertoire of questions.
Questions I knew people wanted to know the answers to.
It wasn’t long before I gained an audience and I was doing demonstrations in front of a room and then a footpath full of interested customers.
I enjoyed interacting with people, it was fun, and I got really good at it.
Sales started to flow, including big ticket items.
The revenue I’d created was so impressive that the company placed me in charge of showroom sales on a full-time basis.
Dreams really do come true!
When I turned 21 I got promoted to the position of Regional Sales Manager.
No longer was I chained to a desk and a lifetime of taking dictation and typing correspondence.
I spent my days travelling around the state of Victoria by car and light plane visiting authorised dealers and their clients, demonstrating and selling office equipment.
I regularly exceeded my sales targets and before long I was manning trade show booths with famous sports stars and TV celebrities, and negotiating major contracts with key account customers over long boozy lunches at fancy restaurants.
The moral of my story?
Let no-one discourage your ambitious attitude.
You don’t need a fan club to achieve your goals.
Be your own motivation.
Don’t wait for the door of opportunity to open.
Break the damned door down and create your own opportunities.