Chris White – University of Tennessee
I was walking across campus, my freshman year (February 2001) at The University of Tennessee, minding my own my business, and a young lady approached me and asked, “Would you like to make $7,500 this summer?”. I said, “Hmmm…let me think about that…yes!!”. The young lady, Erin Brooks, called me up the following Monday evening and asked me to attend an information session for this summer job, and I accepted the invitation for the next day.
I sat through the information session, and the information was quite exciting! Towards the end of the information session, the people that had done the Southwestern Advantage internship during the summer stood up in front of our group and told us a little bit about their experience. One guy stood up and said something that I will never forget. He said, “The hardest things in life are typically the most rewarding”…..wow…I had never thought about that before. What had I done in my life up to that point that was really challenging? Graduated high school….senior slid all 4 years. Worked in a candy store….easy. Excelled in sports all my life….I had not done anything that TRULY challenged me and took me out of my comfort zone. Life, up to that point, had been pretty easy.
At the end of the meeting, I looked Erin Brooks in the eyes and told her, “I’m going to do this. If those people standing up at the end did it, then I can do it. Besides, I can do anything for 12 weeks!”
So I was on this HUGE high just thinking about how great the summer would be, and I was quickly brought back down to reality when I told the girl I was dating. She was NOT as excited about it as I was. The next couple of months, while I prepared for the Southwestern summer program, were an emotional rollercoaster. Up and down, up and down…..
In May of 2001, I spent 12 weeks in Lawrence, Kansas. It was the hardest 12 weeks of my life…..guys don’t cry, right? WRONG! I spent 12 weeks in Kansas while all of my friends were going to the beach, partying at concerts, and having a blast….and I was stuck in Lawrence, Kansas…..
However, my life was changed in Kansas….I found out what kind of man I was. I found out that even when life seems completely unbearable, and I wanted to throw in the towel and give up, that I was strong enough to keep going. I found out that even when it is 106 degrees on a blistering July day, and I’m knocking on doors and no one is answering and no one is buying, that if you keep knocking, God will put a person in front of you that buys everything you got. In Kansas, I found out that “the hardest things in life are typically the most rewarding”.
I hope you are catching what I’m saying….selling books with Southwestern Advantage is THE hardest thing you will ever do in your life up to that point, but it is THE most rewarding thing you can do for yourself. I learned more about perseverance, resiliency, work ethic, discipline, controlling my attitude, communication skills, sales, relationship building, working with others, reading people, and leadership (and about a thousand more things) in 12 weeks, than I had my entire life combined…..was it hard, yep. Was it worth it, ABSOLUTELY!!! That would explain why I did it 5 more summers.
I went on to be a sales manager with Southwestern, and in 2006 I joined Southwestern Investment Services and serve as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. In 2008, I married a gal who also sold books, for 3 summers. So, another benefit of selling books….if you stick around long enough, you might find a spouse. :))
I owe the lion share of my success to Southwestern. They taught me the fundamental principles of what it takes to be successful, and gave me an outlet to learn and strengthen those principles. Can you be successful without selling books? Sure. Is Southwestern a good training ground to be successful? The best.
I don’t know where I would be today if I hadn’t made the conscious decision to sell books. But, I do know that I am unbelievably grateful for where I am today, and that summer in Kansas was the beginning.