My first job ever was as my dad’s secretary. (This was the early 80′s – before the term Administrative Assistant came into use).
I was really little. So little in fact, I don’t remember how it started, I only know that the story goes that it was my idea, and I was around 3, maybe 4, and my main job responsibilities consisted of answering the phone (for real) and probably things like bringing stuff to my mom and moving things from one part of his office to another. But really, what I remember most in those early years is answering the phone.
Two things you should know: My dad has never been good at saying no to me, and his clients and colleagues had a very good sense of humor. And the ones who knew my dad really well weren’t surprised he let his toddler answer the phone, and the ones who didn’t know him that well learned a lot about him from those few seconds of phone time with me. People who had a problem with me answering the phone probably weren’t going to get along with my dad very well.
As I got older I continued to be his “secretary” off and on, although it eventually became more of a running joke. When I got old enough to understand what answering the phone actually meant, I lost interest in it (an interest I’ve never really regained. Much to my current boss’s dismay).
Since I didn’t want to answer the phone anymore, my job description throughout most of elementary and middle school consisted of applying mailing labels and stamps to thousands of newsletters every month, (along with my mom and younger brother), at a rate of $.05/piece. (This was way before the days of electronic newsletters). When I got into high school I still had to help with the newsletters, but also got trained on the art of collating and using the binding machine so I could help make his training books and presentation materials. I probably got paid for that too, but I don’t remember how much. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t doing it for the money anyway.
I was doing it because I was really bored. I wasn’t very popular in high school.
My dad was a Sales Trainer, which meant that he trained people how to become sales people, or how to become better sales people. He was self-employed and like many self-employed people, the work spilled over into other aspects of life. Child labor issues aside, my dad often relied on the principles and methods from his sales training to inform his parenting. It worked better than you might think. At some point I’ll blog about that specifically.
When I was an adult and starting my own business, I relied on that lifetime of sales training to help me get clients and close deals, and while ultimately I learned that I’m not a natural salesperson, I also learned I can do well enough to get by, but more than anything, the philosophies of his sales system really do double as useful life lessons.
Which is why, when my dad went into semi-retirement 3 years ago, he asked me to help him write a book about his sales system. It seemed a natural fit because he had about 30 years worth of experience in his head, but no idea how to organize it into a book, and I liked to call myself a writer, but also knew the selling system, so theoretically could easily organize the information into a book.
We estimated it would be a roughly 3 month project.
Three years later, it’s finally done. But three months, three years, whose counting, right?
The important thing is that its done! AND it’s for sale on Amazon! Right now its only available in digital format, but will be available in paper back as well within a week or so.
My original plan had been to have it go on sale on Father’s Day, and surprise my dad with it, but technology and the space time continuum conspired against me. But given the way this project has gone, one day late is basically ahead of schedule.
And the coolest part, aside from having had the chance to do this project with my dad, is that it’s given me the opportunity to learn a lot of new things.
I’ve learned that taking a pile of information and organizing it into a coherent, organized and universally accessible book is a lot harder than it seems. I’ve learned a lot about digital printing, and Amazon specifically. I’ve learned the basics of a graphics program, and I’ve been inspired to starting to learning basic web design and language.
It feels good to be learning again, and I feel like this could be opening some potential new doors for me down the road.
It kinda feels like the whole, secretary at 3 years old thing, has come full circle in a way.
But anyway, if you have any interest in sales, or negotiation or even strong communication, you should check out the book - Sell More Easily, by Howard Maslich (edt. by Meredith Maslich).
And if you do happen to buy it, and read it, please leave a review on the Amazon site – that’s one of the fastest ways to increase its ranking. Which is important, because after three years, the ROI on this project needs to be really high. Really, really high.