How Being the Worst Salesman in the World Helped Me Discover My Passion

If you’re doing it right, your work is giving you more than a pay-check. The experience that you gain from a position can be worth far more than any dollar amount.

I was a door-to-door salesman in Australia for five months. I sold “fresh farm food, straight to your door” and was called a Milkman. Even though my pay-check didn’t cover rent, the job and the experience it provided me was worth it in every way. Here’s the catch: it was all commission pay and I was the absolute worst salesman you could imagine.

Weekly Pay: About $150

Even though I, for the lack of a better word, sucked at this job, here’s what I got out of it...

Sales Experience - I was introduced to the world of elevator pitching and extreme rejection. In this job, you can literally get a door slammed in your face. I learned to be able to take it, learn from it, and move right on.

Money Management - Received $150/week. Paid $300/week for rent. You do the math.

Relationship Building - I would give it my all, everyday on the job. When I knew I wasn’t getting a sale, I did the most Canadian thing I could do and made friends with people in the neighbourhood. I knew I wasn’t going to get a sale from them, but results from building these relationships came in the form of food, a jacket and an offer to stay in a couple’s son’s room while he was away at university (the room wasn’t close enough to the city for my liking, but shout-out to Bill and Sharon for the offer).

Appreciation - Every single day, this job was completely different from the last and I loved it! A wild turkey followed me for a good chunk of one day. You can’t make this stuff up. Does Australia even have wild turkeys? Well this street did.

This may be a “you need to be there to believe it” type of experience, but this job actually changed me and my career path. Because of this job, I understood that I needed work that would allow me to wake up in the morning, craving a challenge. I don’t want to “have to go to work.” I want to go to work and know that I will be adding to my skill-set and overall being.

Make sure you are learning throughout your career, because it’s the only way you will actually grow, learn more about yourself and be happier with your workplace. Whether you are a cashier, server in a teppanyaki restaurant, soccer coach at a wealthy summer camp, underaged payroll assistant at an environmental company, entrepreneur, marketer (all past/present jobs of mine), or absolutely anything else, make sure you are getting more than money from the organization. Your pay-check should not be a reflection of what you gained from the job.


A few more skills learned from this job (just for fun):

  • The art of saying “no.” Like when there’s a massive spider on the door you’re about to knock on and you say to yourself, “is it worth it?”

  • The wonderful skill of convincing a Social Worker that you haven’t been kicked out of your home, but rather you are sitting on the curb in the dark, waiting for your work team to pick you up (they forgot me).

  • How to distinguish which dogs are good, and which are bad. Let’s just say I have a new respect for mailmen.

  • Popping a squat (you don’t need to know more).

Next week on 'How Did I Get Myself Into This?', I’ll tell you all about the lessons I learned from working as a camp counsellor and soccer coach in Massachusetts. Preview: Some of the campers are from Spain. Did the camp really expect me to be able to teach anything to a miniature Lionel Messi? Yes. Yes they did.

Emily BartlettComment