My Big Break
There are a few times in my career that I could describe as “my big break.” Early on, when I left school with a clutch of “A” Levels, half a dozen part-time jobs and no clue at all about what I really wanted to do with my life, one of my bosses offered me a full-time position – with a car!
That felt like a BIG BREAK at the time.
Many of my peers had gone on to University but I was earning a salary and I had an all expenses paid, brand new “G” reg Peugeot 205 on my (Mum’s) drive.
Woo hoo! I’d made it.
9 months later I was made redundant. Hey ho…
A few years on, I was working for Forte Hotels as a Sales Executive and I happened to walk into a brand new furniture store called DFS in Plymouth, to sell them a Christmas Party Night. It was June and they’d only just opened in May so to say they weren’t interested would be an under-statement! Undeterred, I chatted away to the Manager asking him about other reasons that he might have to use my hotel… Visitors from Head Office? “No, we’re happy at XYZ Hotel.” Interviews? “We interview here in the showroom.”
Then, MY BIG BREAK – he told me they were interviewing for sales people, right now!
“Ooh,” I said, “Might that be something I’d be interested in?”
If he looked shocked at my forwardness, I ignored it and smiled as sweetly as I could. He ushered me out of his shop with an application form and instructions to fill it in and return it as soon as possible. By which, I thought he meant: Fill it in, in the car and bring it straight back. Which I did and landed myself an interview on the spot.
Long story short, I must have done ok at that interview because ‘Dave’ invited me back to meet his manager (also Dave) for a second interview. I was very excited by now because he had explained that there was no ceiling to my earnings and that the average salesman was earning more than double what I was currently earning at the hotel.
When do I start?
Following a very long second interview, Dave (the area manager) asked me if I had any questions. Well, I’d been listening and taking everything in and I was loving what I was hearing so the only question I could think of was: “When do I start?” Although both Daves spluttered and made excuses about having other people to see etc, I was pretty sure I’d impressed them with tales of being able to sell anything from animal feed to frozen gateaux. They told me they’d let me know by the end of the week but I’d only been back at my desk an hour when the phone rang and I was offered the job.
My dream job!
This job was my dream job for many many years and I’m forever grateful to the Daves for my big break. I became the first woman to be signed off the sales training programme and within 2 years I was the first female manager in the history of the company. I worked hard and travelled around the country managing stores and opening new branches. I earned a very good salary and had a great standard of living.
I was responsible for selling and delivering many millions of pounds worth of furniture over 17 years and for recruiting and coaching my teams to success.
Working there was the grounding for what I do today so it really was my big break. It allowed me to change my life in 1996 and again in 2013 when I left to become The Dream Job Coach.
My reason for sharing this is simple. So many of us grow up without a clear idea of what our dream job looks like. Only a fortunate few have a burning desire to be a doctor / lawyer / teacher etc! Hardly anyone thinks: “My dream job is to be in Sales!”
It’s important to focus on what you love doing, what comes naturally and what feels like fun. And it’s vital to be open to opportunities. Your big break can come along when you’re least expecting it and from all kinds of weird and wonderful directions.
If I’d let the conversation close that day when the Manager told me that he didn’t want a Christmas Party, I would not be writing this today. Thank goodness, I was persistent!
Your big break is waiting for you to recognise it and to grab it with both hands. I help my clients to have the confidence to do just that.
Louise Jenner, The Dream Job Coach® 2016