“I just turned 29 yesterday… and I feel so lost and confused. I quit my job 7 months ago, where I worked in insurance as a salesperson for 2 1/2 years. It was my 3rd resignation, since my boss retained me twice before. I guess I ‘could’ sell, but I hated it. Period. I was extremely unhappy and always felt I didn’t belong.
“I majored in marketing. And although marketing and sales are cousins, I still felt it wasn’t the job for me. However, all the job proposals I receive are either sales, banking, or a combination of both. Companies want to hire me based on my experience – which makes sense – but I want to change my career path and go after something I actually enjoy or look forward to.
“It’s such a waste. Many people end up in jobs they hate while they could excel in other things given the chance. I feel so much unleashed potential in me that’s waiting to see the light. I only wish to find someone who’ll believe in me and see more to me. Any ideas?”
I agree with you. It’s a shame when people settle for jobs they don’t like. There is no reason for it. It’s a great big world out there. There are thousands of professions to pursue. You don’t want to spend your life doing something simply because you have a talent for it. Talents don’t work that way anyway. If you have been good at sales but hate selling, it’s probably because you are diligent and persistent and able to learn what you need to be successful. These are traits that will allow you to be successful in any career.
Twenty-nine is young. I didn’t “find” my career until I was about your age. Before that, I did some selling too (aluminum siding and pots and pans). And I hated it, just like you do. But I learned something. And what I learned helped me when I found a career that was right for me.
Selling taught me the following valuable lessons:
• Every valuable human activity involves the buying and selling of ideas.
• Those things we think are valuable – from saving rain forests to Gucci shoes – are the result of ideas we have “bought” at one time or another.
• Except for the provision of very basic human needs, most of human culture is about this interchange of money and ideas.
What I’m saying, Charlotte, is that you can’t escape selling if you want to be successful. Even Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods, two of the most talented athletes of all time, earn their livings by selling ideas. (In their cases, they sell the idea that their endorsements are worth millions of dollars.)
So don’t be down on selling. Be happy that you know how to do it. Just apply what you know to selling ideas that you like – ideas that inspire you.
The first thing you have to do is realize that you are very young and the world is your oyster. The second thing you must do is choose an industry whose ideas inspire you. Figure out what ideas turn you on. Then identify the industry that sells those ideas. Third, you should learn about that industry. You should get an entry-level job, if necessary, and spend all your spare time studying how that business works. Use your knowledge of selling to understand how that business sells the ideas that it sells. Become an expert in the selling of those ideas. Then you will be able to get pretty much any job you want.
If you want more details on how to get the job of your dreams, buy a copy of Automatic Wealth for Grads… and Anyone Else Just Starting Out and study Chapters 3, 4, and 5.
And start today, Charlotte. Not tomorrow. You said you wanted someone who believed in you. I believe in you. If you start today, then you will prove to me that you believe in yourself. So do it![Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]