I am a man of many odd jobs; my first job in 7th grade was counting beads for old women in a basement. In high school I never really worked, one time I delivered real-estate books, but technically I was never hired anywhere.
My first legitimate job (if you want to call it that) was selling Cutco knives with Vector Marketing. I spent about three months cutting pennies with your mom in her kitchen (that’s how I “cut the cost in half”) and convincing my family to spend more money on knives than a new computer. I’ll admit, selling knives is a little sketchy, but I was darn good at it.
In my first month, I was one of the top new-hires. I made good money and won a set of knives for myself. In my mind, you couldn’t find a better salesman: I was friendly, I made corny jokes, and I stuck to the script pretty well.
During one of my sales presentations I was sitting alone in a kitchen with a woman and her 20 small dogs. About halfway through the presentation she called her very large and intimidating husband downstairs. He did not look happy to have me in his house at 9 AM on a Saturday. So he sat there falling asleep while I tried to finish my sales pitch and about half way through, he interrupted me:
“Alright kid, shut up. Obviously we’re gonna buy your stupid knives. My wife has been drooling over these things for the past 20 minutes, you don’t need to talk anymore. So sign us up for your biggest set, pack up your sharp toys, and come sell for my company and make some real money.”
So in just one Saturday morning, I sold the biggest set of knives and got offered a new job selling solar panels. My wallet and my ego grew three times their size that day. I felt like the best 19 year old salesman in the valley. I sold a bunch knives so I figured I could sell anything: cookware, solar panels, and seawater to a fisherman.
I was in for a big surprise.
Selling steak knives by memorizing a script is one thing, but trying to convince people twice my age to spend $15,000 on solar panels is something entirely different.
When I started working for the new company, an older, more experienced salesman took me under his wing. After one sales call with him, he offered to keep training me, but as I’m sure you already know, the best new knife salesman in the valley doesn’t need anyone’s help. With enough smugness to make Kanye look like Gandhi I said to other salesman: “I can figure things out on my own. Trial and error is kind of my thing.”
Well needless to say, I sucked… big time.
I went from the best new-hire knife salesman to the worst thing the solar industry had seen since Solyndra. After 5 months, I only sold one system and decided to throw in the towel.
I didn’t quite close the books on my sales career just yet, but I did learn an invaluable lesson that stills echoes through my life today.
The sooner we admit our faults, the sooner we can grow.
When we recognize our own weaknesses we are more willing to accept help from others and find guidance from the people who actually understand what’s going on.
When you find someone who truly understands what you’re trying learn, spend every moment possible with them until you find strength sufficient to overcome your weaknesses.
So what’s my weakness? I’m self-conscious and I’m too proud to let anyone know.
Throughout my whole life, I’ve tried to convince the world that I know what I’m doing. I put on an act and talk the talk. Whenever anyone tries to challenge my image, I lash out.
And for now, that’s okay because I’m doing what I can to change.
Getting past any weakness is all about admitting it, accepting it, and spending more time getting better in other aspects of life. The more we dwell on our weaknesses, the less likely we are to overcome them.
Find people in your life who know what they’re doing, and know how to teach you. When you learn from them, your weaknesses begin to fade into the background.