This business coach post explains how to get ready for change.
Business Coach Life Lesson: “Put all of your eggs in one basket, and watch that basket.”- ANDREW CARNEGIE, one of America’s richest men who earned tremendous amounts of wealth and then methodically gave it all away.
The dust finally settled, and after spending two frantic, non-stop days moving all of my belongings out of my dorm room, the reality finally occurred to me:
I WAS NO LONGER IN COLLEGE.
I WAS NO LONGER REALLY EMPLOYED BY ANYBODY (other than my internship with an accounting software company).
I HAD NO STRUCTURE.
I HAD NO COMMITMENTS.
I HAD NO CUSTOMERS.
I HAD NO MONEY.
Oh yes, it finally hit me. And if you are reading this online training for entrepreneurs, and you are ever ambitious and crazy enough to start a business from scratch, this feeling will hit you at some point as well. Being your own boss is great. Business Coach Truth: You get to choose whatever eighty hours per week to work, and when the going gets rough, you get to lay yourself off. And so, alone (yet with help from Vanessa’s daily visits) my “magnificent obsession,” as Napoleon Hill calls it, began.
Basically, everything I did during this time revolved around DJ Connection. I stayed up late at night creating invoices and customer lead sheets using the incredibly sophisticated Microsoft Windows accessory program known as Paint. Yep, I used Paint to database my customers. I went to Kinkos to have my very own business cards made, and I carried them around (in the backpack that I wore in college) so that I could always be ready to pass out my cards to anyone who came within a foot or more of me. For the record, I still pass out a card to every person I meet. Because I was only getting 3 to 5 calls per month from my Yellow Pages advertisement, I was really hustling. (Business Coach Tip: You must be willing to work hard and hustle.)
I don’ t know if I am quite conveying with words the amount of hustling that I was doing, so I will give you an analogy. Every day a gazelle wakes up in Africa knowing that if it does not outrun and escape the hunting attempts of the lion, it will die and be eaten in a painful death. Every day in Africa, the lion wakes up and knows that if it does not catch the gazelle, it will starve to death. Every day I woke up in my one-bedroom Fountain Crest apartment knowing that if I didn’t get a booking, I could not afford to make my Yellow Pages payment, my storage payment, or my rent payment. So, my friends, when I say that I was hustling, I was HUSTLING! Because I was hustling with previously unseen speed, passion, and hidden-desperation, I was meeting all types of people and working all types of jobs to pay the bills.
I worked at Target in the electronics section where I was reprimanded daily by my rather large boss who was always on me about working at an “unrealistically fast pace.” I will never forget being laid off from the Target at 71st Street and Memorial in Tulsa after being a seasonal worker. (For anyone planning a vacation to visit this tourist attraction that Target has moved and is now occupied by some other large retailer . . . sorry to disappoint you). I was actually pumped up that I got laid off. It set me free. But, I did not get laid off before I ran in to a guy by the name of Todd. Todd came into Target to buy a video camera for his wife (I believe her name is Allison). When he came up to the counter, he had this look on his face as though he was overwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong, Todd is a wonderful guy, but he did not look very excited about being at Target; thus I made my move. I said, “Hello, Sir, how are you doing? Is there anything that I can help YOU WITH?” Todd replied, almost shocked that an employee in the electronics section actually greeted a bewildered customer with enthusiasm, “Yeah, um . . . I am looking for a video camera for my wife. Do you know anything about these things?” That was just the kind of open-ended question that I was waiting for. I proceeded to build rapport with Todd by asking him what he was looking for in a camera, what features he needed, and what he was not looking for. After talking with Todd, I determined that he needed a high-quality camera (that was about 30 percent less than the one he was originally planning on buying) to meet his needs. Todd was sincerely appreciative that I had saved him some money, and he asked, “So, Clay, what do you do here?” (My name was on my nametag). I responded with even more passion, “Basically, I work here in the electronics section; however, it is my job to make sure that all the ladies’ underwear, deodorant, batteries, car accessories, and assorted whatnots don’t migrate into the electronics section. And I go to ORU (I hadn’t been officially de-enrolled yet). What do you do?” Todd went on to explain to me how he worked at a place called T.A.S.C. that specialized in selling and servicing tax and accounting software for accountants and professional bookkeepers throughout the country. He told me that the guy who started T.A.S.C. was an ORU graduate, and that they were currently hiring interns. If my schedule would allow for it, he said that I should come on by for an interview. So, I asked for his card. I put his card in my wallet and was overwhelmed with joy to know that I would be getting the heck out of Target as soon as my interview with T.A.S.C. was done. I knew that I was going to get the job if I could just get an interview.
I did get an interview, and I rolled up to T.A.S.C. looking and smelling like a million bucks in my nineteen-year-old way. I drove my Mazda DJ van to CitiPlex Towers located at 81st and Lewis in Tulsa, and I thought to myself, I am going to get this job. I am going to get this job. (This is a great business coach tip and online training for entrepreneurs truth: Think positive thoughts!) I wore tan corduroy dress pants, a blue shirt, and a yellow tie. I was feeling good about life when they finally called me from the lobby to the interview room. I was interviewed by Steve (a former professional baseball player and San Francisco Giant) and another lady with dark hair and beautiful, yet untrusting and interrogative eyes. Her job was to break me down (I think she would have used water boarding if it was available) and ask me the tough character-revealing questions. The interview started out well. They threw me some soft questions like, “Tell us about yourself,” and “So, what was the most difficult situation that you have been in, and how did you overcome this situation to get the job done?” I could answer questions like those all day. Then they started asking the tough questions, “So, Clay, how long have you been attending ORU?” and “When do you plan on graduating?” They kept going asking me stuff like, “So, what made you interested in ORU’s accounting internship program?” And I knew that I had to totally BS each and every answer or I was going to be screwed with a passion. Oh man, I did not want to get screwed! So I went for it. I said something to the effect of, “You know, actually I met Todd when he was shopping at Target, where I head up the electronics department. And honestly, I don’t really see myself wanting to work with Target for the rest of my life. The more that I talked with Todd, the more your company sounded like a great place to work after college. I am just really looking for a company that will appreciate an employee who is an ultra-hard worker and ultra-passionate about getting things done. I have a small mobile entertainment business that I have been using to pay my way through college, and I think this internship opportunity would look better on my resume than having to say that that I interned for myself. Ha, Ha.”
I had hit a homerun, but I kept going when I said, “So, Steve, I understand that you played for the San Francisco Giants. Did you ever play with Will Clark or Matt Williams? That must have been great!” Steve responded with a few baseball stories, and I just had to keep playing that card hard, “Man, that is awesome! So what brought you to T.A.S.C.? What do you most like about it here?” Oh, it was going awesome. My strategy of interviewing the interviewer was working. As the interview was winding down, I gave them my resume (knowing that if they called ORU to verify that I was “actively” enrolled there as a student I was screwed). I gave it to them with confidence knowing that they were hiring many interns and that most people do not call references. (Business Coach Tip: When you dress up nice, I have found that most businesses do not call references). And if you are referred by someone else who will personally vouch for you, they will like you. And Todd did vouch for me. Thank you, Todd!
Getting laid off from Target was incredible, and I was honestly happy to get the news when Tara (the big boss and Manager) “had to let me go.” After I worked at T.A.S.C. for a while, rumors started flying that T.A.S.C. was going to be purchased by INTUIT. Being that I did not know why that mattered, I did not see this as a bad thing. I was just fired up to be making $10 per hour. I was fired up that they served Subway sandwiches. I was fired up to be working in an office, and I loved that Scancard keychain thing that they gave us all to get into the building. Life was sweet. Then unexpectedly one day I got called into the office by a guy named Randy who said that we “needed to talk.” I don’t even need to highlight this business coach truth because we all know that it doesn’t matter if your mom says it, your wife says it, your principal says it, or anyone says it, the phrase “we need to talk” is never good. So I got nervous, but I knew that I was working hard and doing a good job on the phones, so I knew that it could not have been work-related. And I knew that I couldn’t really get fired for personal-related stuff outside of work, and thus I felt nervous but good.
When I sat down in Randy’s office, the dark-haired lady from my initial interview who had distrusting, interrogating eyes was there too. Oh, I knew it! She called ORU didn’t she? That rat! How could she? They proceeded to tell me in serious talk that they heard I was being kicked out of ORU for recording the infamous, “ORU SLIM SHADY.” They were both ORU alumni, and they wanted to know what was going on and if it was, in fact, 100 percent true that I recorded the song. I told them the story with conviction and passion. I explained to them how Adam and I spent twelve hours recording it to vent our personal frustrations with the school’s hypocrisy. I explained how our friends had put it online without our permission. I explained to them how I got kicked out, etc. . . . and then they cracked a smile. They could not believe it. They had to know more.
When I left that meeting, something had changed. The dynamic that I shared with them and the rest of my coworkers was now different. Everyone loved me. Belinda started talking to me. Todd started saying, “What’s up, DJ?” in the hall. Other employees started telling their personal ORU stories. A former ORU basketball player told me how ORU paid for his SUV to get him to attend college there. Everyone at work started telling me more and more dirt on ORU. I felt like I had enough info and inside scoop on the squirrelly Richard Roberts to write ten songs, but I did not. I kept working at T.A.S.C. until the INTUIT rumors came true, and they started laying people off—one-by-one, cubicle-by–cubicle, until they got to me. At the time that they laid me off, I had saved up some considerable coinage as I lived off of the DJ income, and my meals only cost me 96 cents (for those incredible chicken panini dinners). I was on top of the world!
I do not quite remember the exact series of events, but I ended up going to work for Applebee’s. Plus, Todd gave me the number for an evangelistic outreach with ORU connections that he had heard was hiring. I lasted about two weeks working at that Applebee’s with its homosexually overcharged environment. I have always been of the belief that whether you are gay or straight, I do not want to know about it. But these coworkers were all gay or bisexual, and they insisted that everyone should know about it. They wore their promiscuity like a military person would wear a badge of honor. My manager was gay, one guy was a cross-dressing bisexual, and the rest of the staff was comprised of skanks. I think I remember one non-skanky and non-promiscuous person working there, but he quit during my first two weeks, which also were my last two weeks. I also landed a job working at West Telecommunications to pay the bills.
Working in a traditional call center was brutal, but my manager, Lex, was cool, and my weight-lifting buddy, Eugene, had gotten a job there as well. Here is another business coach tip for entrepreneurs: Do the work, even if it’s brutal, because most times, hard work is the only way to reach your goals. Eugene and I turned every day we worked there into a personal competition to see who could get the most sales and who would be able to push the most subscriptions to Newport News. Once someone had subscribed to Newport News, they received $100 OF INCREDIBLE GAS REBATES. To redeem them, you had to first buy the gas. Second, you had to keep your proof of purchase and mail that to the redemption center where your purchase would be verified. And then after you had submitted this funk and after you had spent over $100 in the catalog, you would get your gas rebates. It was bogus. However, after a few months spent on the phone “dialing and smiling,” I felt as though I had reached the pinnacle of my game as a telemarketer. In all sincerity, I did learn a ton about telephone sales at this job. I learned the importance of documenting all customer service interactions made over the phone, and the power of the phone as an inexpensive marketing tool. It was amazing to me that millions of dollars could be made just by “dialing and smiling.”
When I retired from West Telecommunications, I was ready to leave, but I had learned a lot. And so with my retirement from West behind me, I pressed on in the pursuit of fueling my magnificent DJ Connection obsession. My pursuit of additional fuel (cash) for my passion rocket (DJ Connection) led me to Impact Ministries and Productions/Faith Highway–the business that Todd had mentioned to me while I was getting laid off from T.A.S.C. Before inquiring about the position available at Impact Ministries and Productions/Faith Highway (henceforth, I am going to refer to Impact Ministries and Productions/Faith Highway as Impact), I did a moderate amount of pre-interview interrogations of people who knew people who had allegedly worked there so I could get a vibe for the company. Through doing this, I learned that Impact was actually a ministry and not actually a company built to produce profits. The owners of Impact sincerely believed that they were still an outreach to the “lost”; however, they were striving to make a profit while doing so. This dynamic made it, from my perspective, interesting to say the least.
Before I applied at Impact, I discovered that the ministry was a result of the financial windfall that followed the production and performance of Tom Newman’s, A Toymaker’s Dream. Toymaker was a traveling evangelism production that successfully helped win an estimated 10,000-plus people to Christ. As A Toymaker’s Dream performances started winding down, the idea was tossed out to turn Impact’s infrastructure into a multimedia-marketing machine for churches. Essentially, Impact was established to offer churches a professional way to market their church and to promote the message of the Gospel through television. The average church that Impact was marketing to could not have afforded to create a professional-looking commercial, but Impact could. Thus, they created some really incredible and emotionally moving thirty-second commercials designed to provoke the thoughts of an unbeliever in a compelling and unique way. At the end of each commercial spot, the final few seconds were used to custom tag the commercial with a message from the purchasing church reading something to the effect of: Come out and see us this Sunday at Flux Capacitor Baptist Church. Services start at 10:00 A.M. Call (972) 408-6580 for more information. www.fluxcapacitorbaptist.com.
The commercials were produced on high quality, 35mm film; and pastors, churches, and viewers loved them. At one point, they even won the prestigious ADDY award for their quality work and creativity. What we at Impact sold all day was the exclusive rights for one local church to show the Got Jesus? Commercial or the What If It Were True? Commercial Series in their designated market area. The church that purchased the commercials could then show the commercial as often as they desired in their local market area over the next two years. If the church wished to renew their rights to show the commercials, they could, and once they had reserved the rights for the commercials, no other church in their designated market area (DMA) could run them. This provided us a time-pressure variable when selling to churches. Here is an online training for entrepreneurs tip that I have discovered: selling products over the phone, via cold calling, generally only produces results when there is a time-pressure variable.
This company really was an anomaly, and the only thing like it in the nation (not to say that Saudi Arabia didn’t have an amazing televangelist commercial campaign company; I just might not have known about it). Impact successfully sold outrageous quantities out of those commercials in nearly every DMA in the United States. Eventually, the company sold such a high volume of commercials that we had to create our own media buying department to help assist pastors with purchasing their media/TV airtime. Essentially, and just like anything, the more you buy, the better deal you could negotiate. We were selling commercials to individual small churches, yet we were selling to thousands of them, so we were able to negotiate sweet deals and lower prices for the average local church. If we negotiated a really good deal, we could earn some extra revenue based on the “savings” that the pastors were receiving. At the peak of the company’s success, Impact was producing and selling commercials, buying and selling media, pre-selling movie tickets for faith-based movies such as The Passion of the Christ, producing a children’s television series, and designing quality websites for churches.
When I called Impact to see if I could get the job, I remember walking in and seeing this creative wonderland and thinking that I had arrived in heaven. I remember thinking that I was finally going to hook up with a company that could handle the “Clay Funk” that I was capable of bringing. I really did think that I would be able to contribute creatively to this company. As I sat impatiently in the lobby of this super-creative, quasi-ministry/business, I kept thinking that this was going to be my first real job. This was going to be it. As I looked around the room at the ultra-modern décor, the futuristic glass desks, the secretary rocking a headset apparatus, the chrome finish everywhere, and the pastel colors that adorned this trendy production company/ministry to the people, I was excited. So when Mary, (the gray-haired, everybody’s grandma, secretary, and a legend of consistency) handed me the application, I filled it out with all of my might. (Today, I will not touch applications or forms of any kind, including at the doctor’s office. Vanessa does that to cover for my disorder. Seriously, I do not know what the problem is, but I get panic attacks whenever I have to fill out tedious forms with elaborate government-looking instructions. This might have to do with the problems that I experienced in Algebra and on my ACT, but the point is: it is a problem. Thankfully, now my wife gets me through it every time. She’s an angel).
On this application, I wrote why I was the man for the job; I wrote about my creative vision, and then I mentally spiked it like Deion Sanders would do after he scored one of his patented interception-turned-touchdown-end-zone-dances. I handed the application to Mary with authority, and then I left because she told me that they would call me. Waiting for that call seemed like forever, and it was not cool. When I got back to my apartment, I quickly checked the DJ Connection voicemail like I always did upon returning to the “Shire of Inspire” (the name I gave my one-bedroom apartment decorated with only a coffee table, crazy amounts of DJ gear, a futon, and a mattress laid on the floor that I slept on). On the voicemail I found a beautiful voice message that I would have framed if audio were mountable. The voicemail was from Jennifer of Impact instructing me to call them back to setup a follow-up interview. I was pumped like a steroid-enhanced Russian male gymnast! I just knew this was job was going to be mine, and that it was custom-tailored for my creativity and me.
As I walked in, I was confident that I was the most qualified person for the job. I was again greeted by the secretary Mary, still rocking the headset phone that I had seen her wearing during my previous visit. Amidst the sea of calls that she was answering, she carved out ten seconds to tell me, “You can be seated, and Jeremy will be with you in just a second.” A few moments later, Jeremy escorted me back into one of the glassed-in-ultra-futuristic-interrogation-looking conference rooms. At Impact, everything was designed to look super clean, super modern, and super futuristic. Thus, surrounded by “the future,” I sat down to be interrogated about my past and why I wanted to work with this company. The interview was unique to say the least. Basically there were two people quizzing me simultaneously about my religious beliefs, my goals, my skills, and my passion for reaching “the lost.” Looking back on it, this was hysterical because I was not passionate about reaching “the lost.” I could have cared less about “the lost.” I was 100 percent focused on fueling my DJ business, but I could not tell them that. Oh no, that was going to be my little secret. Thus, when I referred to “the lost,” I just mentally agreed with myself to assume that they were referring to “the lost DJ that no one knows about.” Hey, I had gone to college, so I learned how to justify things. The longer the interview went, the more I felt like I had to justify my very being, and that made me mad. When Jennifer kept pressing with religious questions and goal-oriented questions, I started feeling smaller and smaller by the minute. I honestly did not know why I felt a certain way about something, or what I believed was the number-one purpose of my life as a Christian. I had never thought about it, and I was a little angry that someone would ask me those questions to begin with. Thus, I walked out feeling VERY CONFIDENT that I was NOT going to get the job. But then they called me back, and I sincerely could not believe it. Oh yeah, baby! I was back in business! Seriously, I had left the interview feeling like Barack Obama does every time people ask if he was aware that he had attended a radical church for twenty years; I felt odd, but now I had been redeemed. The people had voted for change.
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