I remember just starting my senior year when my older brother Brandan Tobin came home from this Southwestern Advantage “door to door” internship my dad and I knew nothing about. I hadn’t heard from him all summer long. When he finally came home he threw open the front door, dumped this ugly green backpack down on the floor, and passed out on the living room couch for about three days straight. Once he woke up, I asked what exactly he did all summer and he said something along the lines of “I worked 80 hours a week, ate PB&J everyday, fell off my bike, broke my glasses, etc.” And then he dared to ask me if I was going to do it someday. HA! “That is so disgusting,” I replied. I noticed some interesting changes in him as well. He would run to the mail box, save every receipt, and constantly say what a great day it was. I definitely wasn’t interested.
After I graduated from high school, my brother was still doing this crazy summer job. Not me though! I was sitting at an air-conditioned desk job that guaranteed me at least minimum wage! I was living the life. A year later I was still living that life, but by then it wasn’t “the life.” I’d grown bored of community college in small-town Hanford, working that same desk job. Fyi: Hanford is the armpit of California, it stinks of cow manure, and the sulfur tap water is known to smell like rotten eggs.
I had drive and passion, but it was hard to stay motivated with the way things were going. Plus, I was a little jealous of my brother whisking away on these tropical trips to Cancun and Puerto Vallarta without me. Brandan finally talked me into it and I went to a seminar. There I met the infamous Ron Alford and Nate Vogel (plus some pretty amazing book-people). I didn’t care if I was shoveling rocks all summer, I had to be a part of the team! After an entire night of tears with my best friends, I drove to Nashville by myself following my brother in a spare car (no caravan for me). I remember Fergie’s “Big Girl’s Don’t Cry” coming on the radio, and can you guess what? I cried.
But I sucked it up at Sales School. I worked hard, I studied hard, and I was coachable. It took quite a while before I got the hang of it. My first day selling (I left all of my supplies in another manager’s car) I mapped out my streets on a hotel notepad. I had about fifty papers by the end of the day and had knocked on the same door three separate times. “Honey, you were here two hours ago, I’m still not interested.”
Fast-forward 3 weeks and I still sucked. But, the first three weeks were “just training.” By week 4, I had made more money than I could have all summer at my desk job back home. Fast-forward 9 more weeks and I had hit full Sizzler and won a trip to Jamaica, all-inclusive for a week, but that’s a whole other story.
But the money and trips aren’t the best part. I was told at Sales School that you will meet at least one family who will have made your entire summer worth it. And that was Noah’s family. I had sold to a family at their garage sale (they were selling mostly clothes and…books). They gave me all of their garage sale earnings and bought some kids books for their 2 year old, Noah. They informed me that they were in the process of moving and that I should call them before I deliver to see which town to go to. Delivery week came around and I gave them a call. The dad answered and said, “We were just talking about you the other day! We thought you ran off with our money! But give me one second to step away from my wife.” Ummm…okay. She bought the books so it wasn’t like she didn’t know of the purchase. “I’m sorry to say, but we won’t be needing your books.” He already gave me cash, so I offered his money back or at least the set he had paid for, but he still said no. He also added, “Our son had a tragic drowning accident two weeks ago.” I started bawling on the phone. “I’m so sorry I didn’t know! If there is anything I can do…or if you have anyone or anything you might need books for…” He then mentioned he was opening a library in his son’s memory – Noah’s Ark, with a giant ark-shaped bookcase. I then forcibly donated a library of books to his family and we were both crying on the phone. He thanked me for entering their lives and making a difference, and I thanked him the same.
During my summer, I met the most amazing families, traveled to NY and back, and made friends for life. I may not run to the mailbox or save my receipts, but I do know that every day is a great one. Thank you Southwestern Advantage for everything.