Hello Aidan, my wonderful 11-yr old boy. You and your sisters make many days great for Mom and me. So, in the spirit of our times, I thought I would write you a personal note of thanks and guidance…to be blasted to the world. Actually, my brand is pretty limited, so this will stay between us, a number of internet robots (who proudly claim me as a friend) and a few actual people who clicked ‘follow’ reluctantly, compulsively or by accident.
Sound foolish? Good. There is hope yet for your Christmas.
You know I am a seller, kiddo, and for this brief moment in our lives, you think that’s what you want to do because it’s what I do. Now, just as I have taught you to be a Lions fan (may God forgive me), you’ll discover that not everything I do is healthy… or even sane. I knew I wanted to sell because it’s what Grandpa did too. Remember I told you he worked for 30 years for a big company called Kodak? I’ll tell you who they are… err, were… some other time. It’s kind of like Detroit. Anyhow, he received a nice pension from them which helps cover his healthcare and… oof. Lots of terms/concepts there that you wouldn’t understand and probably will never have to. Nevermind that for now. Let’s just say you should keep your options open.
So this is a note about selling and Christmas. And you should never use either term in business. Both words have been euphomized, which is what we do in business to words that become so sickly their quality of life is inadequate to our standards.
For the entirety of your short life, at this time of year my sway between sheer joy and depression has been part of our “holiday” tradition (See what I did there? You’ll get the hang of it.). All year long I work to make this part of the year joyful for all of us. When I work hard, the season brings joy. Doesn’t that sound wonderful? That’s not really the deal at all, actually. In practice, the end of the year manic depression ritual is the only thing we can count on with great certainty. Which is to say, because it’s just you and me here: Sellers go crazy at Christmas, there’s no avoiding it.
That’s why I love and hate what I do at this time of year. Sellers all know this reality (Except those who work for companies that don’t operate on calendar year. Not sure I can trust those guys). Most of us embrace it. My big, big, big boss just celebrated this point – in different words – with a tweet. I thought that was good of him. So I say to him, and all my bosses, we’re still swinging down here. Some of us still have a simple view of this as a fight. That helps us muster the energy. Others of us know that deep down there is the constant ‘swing’ between euphoria and tragedy. What did my sponsor mean when he wrote that he would “try to get it done”? My year hinges on whether he walks up a couple of flights at the precise right moment, has all the proper forms filled out, cases made, correct relationships greased, favors due and duly called in. Does he mean it? Does he have the juice? Why won’t he respond to the messages I have left in all 16 networks where we are connected, not to mention our personal connection through the neighbor’s in-laws? Is this some kind of cruel trick? HE MUST SURELY REALIZE I HAVE ENGAGED HIM WITH A STORY FIT FOR THE AGES!! …please? At this moment, there is sadly little credit given for mastering the zeitgeist, knowing the current buzzwords or even wearing the requisite black T-shirt with jacket at all the appropriate times (You know I sell software, right?). This desperation is timeless and wonderful.
In the end, against all logic, there is surprise. When it works, as it usually does, there is delight. There is the joy that comes with success. The money, which is certainly useful, is a marker to legitimize the success. Habitual losing is death. But if the winning becomes an expectation, that’s trouble. Paranoia is life blood for any successful company and it flows through the veins of its sellers. Bad luck for my hair line. Failure recurs despite all our efforts, like a genetic flaw that helps us evolve. Think we can programmatically predict emotions that decide success vs. failure in this contest? Maybe. But I am drifting. Remember that surprise, the joy of a positive outcome that exceeds expectations, is the essence of this game. When done correctly, all parties experience unique satisfaction.
And so it is, Aidan, that I have a surprise for you. The mystery of Santa went out of Christmas for you a year or two ago (thanks for breaking it to me gently, by the way). You thought our negotiations had resulted in a satisfactory agreement. Many good things… but not the game console. Nope. We got our act together too late and you remember the great Xbox on eBay fiasco from the last round. This emptor has caveated (go look it up). Not gonna happen. Except it will. We don’t need to discuss how but sufficed to say, I found a way that wasn’t crazy. You will be surprised and we will be delighted and that is how it should be on Christmas for a seller.
The message should end there but it would be too easily misunderstood. Remember my boy, just as Grandpa taught me, you will struggle if you can’t communicate effectively. So let me go just a little further to make it clear.
Selling and Christmas are strange companions. It is easy to attack either or both, especially when they are together. Go interpret all the messages on the lost meaning of Christmas and the damage done by, well, sellers. You’re a smart kid with a great heart. You’ll figure it out. The trick for you is to look beneath the surface rants and common disappointments to see if you can understand the human side of these events. I think you’ll find at the core, with all the ornaments and trappings stripped away, there is still something pure, basic and honest. All the expectations are set… and raised…and adjusted until we struggle to understand just what is expected and what is right. It’s the true seller that reconnects with the basic promise, the human emotion underneath all the noise, and delivers the joy.
Merry Christmas, bud. I have to go find out what my Engagement quota will be next year.