I started to write a blog about how to spot the signs that it’s time to go (aka, quit that goddamn job!). It’s usually easier to spot what ISN’T working, but somehow it morphed into this blog instead.
A blog about one of the best jobs I ever had. A blog about the ways a job can and should work for you.
Let’s call this PART 1 of a “job series” because I’ve got loads of bad experiences and bad judgment that kept me in bad jobs much longer than I needed to be. I’ll be glad to share those another time. Along with tips on how to transition more effectively and more quickly than I did. But hold that thought for now.
Being a salesperson at Disney (Freeform, formerly ABC FAMILY) was one of the best jobs I ever had, because it supported the following critical elements that make me feel fulfilled. In other words, elements that make me, ME. (pls note: I didn’t include “my value”, but this goes without saying: baseline, the job should pay you enough money to live on!)
- My Integrity
Before I started my job at ABC Family, they had sold schedules to advertisers based on overinflated audience estimates. The actual schedules were delivering half of the promised TV viewers. Advertisers were understandably upset. Some were furious. They had products to sell or movies to open, and if audiences weren’t seeing those commercials, they probably weren’t gonna be buying them either. It normal for audience estimates to be off by 10% but not 50%! It was a shortfall we were never gonna get on top of no matter how many free commercials we ran (the usual way to make up the delta). So my boss said we would apologize, acknowledge our responsibility, and reimburse them for the full shortfall. As you can imagine, giving money back isn’t ideal for companies trying to turn a profit. And in sales, that gets you farther away from your goal, not closer.
My boss felt this was the most straight forward way to repair the customer relationship, and most honest way to move forward to set us up for future successes.
Sorry if this is inside baseball, but basically, other lesser men would have kept giving them free commercial time to keep the money on the books, but never stem the shortfall, only kicking the can down the road further, while creating more client ire and distrust along the way.
It was important for me to be forthright, solution oriented, and always do right by my customers. The way we ran the Disney business was in line with my integrity.
- My Personality
At the same company, my boss’s boss back in NY, repeatedly told me to be myself; that by being myself, I’d sell better, I’d present better, and I’d be more successful. It takes guts to advocate that as a manager. I’m the kind of girl who will paint her face green and don a witches hat, at a formal event, if it falls anywhere close to Halloween. And no one else is in costume. I am a nut. For sure. And he supported me being my wacky exuberant self, even in front of clients. Even when most sales managers would have pushed for a stifling ‘by the book’ sales style. This kind of warm, open environment then allowed me to communicate honestly about what I needed. I can still remember this same boss calling me from NY and gruffly asking when a big deal of mine was going to close. He kept giving me grief, NY style, “What’s taking you so long, Helm? I thought you had juice!” I felt comfortable enough, even as a young person, to tell him that I responded better to positive reinforcement, rather than pressure. Of course, after this conversation, he’d go overboard complimenting me, and it became a funny joke that we all . And, ultimately, I felt appreciated and wanted to work my ass off for them.
- My Passions
At this stage in my life, selling commercial time in TV shows targeting Women 12-34 absolutely aligned with what was interesting to me. I was proud of what I sold. I WAS the audience. I understood and liked my clients’ products. I wanted to develop cool promotional ideas for them. I got to take clients to awards shows, concerts, expensive restaurants, and on trips. It all felt very exciting and important and fun. And you know what? It WAS fun. You have to believe in – or at least care about – what your company does, and specifically what you do ON BEHALF of the company.
- My Skills
I had good emotional intelligence, I understood and liked people, I was extroverted. I was curious by nature. I was driven to succeed. I could close deals. This job utilized all of those skills.
- My Peeps
Not only did I like my bosses, but I enjoyed my co-workers. We were all so different, probably a motley crew. Each person brought their own unique personality; one (male) manager liked to sing show tunes and could rally the whole group to sing along during team outings. Another co-worker enjoyed obsessing over expensive shoes with me. We laughed a lot. We had fun together. But most importantly, we knew how to work as a team.
But I still left.
Because there wasn’t enough upward mobility in the Los Angeles office. That brings me to the last piece of the puzzle.
- My Growth
If there aren’t growth opportunities, it might be time to go.
When I resigned, they countered and offered me additional responsibility, but they weren’t offering me the manager role I wanted; I was so goddamn ambitious and singularly focused, it wasn’t going to be enough. With some hindsight, I recognize that maybe there would have been a different version of growth, but it just wasn’t a quick enough trajectory me back then, so at the end of the day, it was still time to go.
If your current job allows you to be yourself, be in your integrity, pursue your passions, utilize your skills and continue to grow (AND you feel like you’ve found your tribe)… well, hallelujah. You’re home.
If not, don’t worry… you aren’t alone. And there will be a future part 2 of this “job series”, about the most effective ways to make a job transition.