I used to work in a large software sales organization at Oracle Corp.
It was probably one of the more aggressive, successful and entrepreneurial organizations in software during the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.
Our division was doubling it’s sales staff every six months for several years.
It was tough, difficult, stressful and amazing all at the same time.
When I first moved into this sales department I was a “Sales Consultant”.
Which meant I helped the sales team to answer technical questions, provide software demos to potential customers, map out software architectures etc.
I didn’t actually complete the “sale.” I assisted with it.
After a couple of years of this, I was feeling pretty confident and comfortable in my role … I won awards, got annual bonuses, travelled to Hawaii for company sponsored vacations etc.
But then two things happened:
1. I noticed that the sales guys I was helping were earning 50% and sometimes 100% more than me.
2. An amazing Area Sales Manager, a Mexican-American superstar who was transferred from California and now managing and living in Canada, was walking through the frigid snowy parking lot with me one day in Mississauga. And as we approached the door to the sales floor he said, “Tom, you realize you’re not really in sales until you carry ‘the bag.'”
It took me almost a full minute to realize he meant “a sales quota”.
He was saying that until I handled the quarterly stress of trying to meet a sales quota I wasn’t really in sales.
To him, being a “sales consultant” was cute … but it wasn’t where you really cut your teeth and learned the business.
Right about the same time I had been reading a ton of books about business and the importance of sales experience …. so it seemed to me that I better get myself into sales ASAP.
I wanted to carry “the bag”.
I wanted the stress!!
It may sound crazy because the income I was earning as a sales consultant was good, the annual bonuses were generous … it was a comfy and very secure role.
But I wanted more.
This Area Sales Manager had made things clear to me. There was more out there to learn than how to do a software demo over the web.
So I transferred into sales and carried my first quota.
And that’s when the nightmare began.
On my very first day.
Literally, my first day in the new role I spoke to my Chicago-based “field rep” who I was mapped to.
I had just called into one of his accounts that I thought was “our” account together. I was just introducing myself. Doing what I thought was right.
And apparently, that was a big no-no.
He said (screamed) something along these lines to me over the phone…
“Who do you think you are? You know nothing, nothing! You never-ever-ever call on that account. I own it, you don’t. You’ll screw up everything I’ve been working on for years. Any sales that come out of that account count against my quota, not yours. You need my permission before you call anyone in this territory – got it? I don’t care what your inside-sales-manager tells you. I’m on the street, I know how things work. You suck. Go away.”
I sat there in silence.
I almost peed right in my pants.
Right at my desk.
I remember it like it was yesterday.
I got up from my desk and tried to look cool and collected as I strolled (ran) to the washroom.
I walked away from being one of the favourite sales consultants in the division, walked away from a guaranteed salary, walked away from security … I had just gotten married, just had my first child, just taken on a new mortgage … I was freaked right out.
I thought, in that moment, I had failed myself, my family, and that I would never survive in this crazy “sales bag” world.
But that’s not how the story ends…
Four months later I was at 220% of my sales quota and was earning more than I ever had.
Apparently, hard work pays off.
I learned more about business, sales and handling stress in the next eight months than I had in the previous four years at the company.
That experience gave me the confidence to walk away from that role into three other stressful roles.
And those experiences gave me the confidence to leave Corporate Canada all together and start a business with my brother.
So what’s the point of all this?
Well, we get this question all the time from new real estate investors…
“Guys, I don’t want the stress of dealing with properties, tenants and contractors. I hate the stress of not knowing if I’ll get next month’s rent.”
Here’s the thing…
Stress is not bad all by itself.
And if you’re avoiding it then you’re holding yourself back.
Dealing with stressful situations repeatedly increases your tolerance for it. Each new stressful situation eventually becomes easy and allows you to handle even greater stressful situations.
And stress often puts you into a state of mind that forces you to get up off your butt and take action.
Stress gets you moving, gets you calling people, gets you focused.
Too many people want to “make money/be rich” but don’t want stress.
We’ve got news for you … it ain’t gonna happen.
You can read all the law of attraction stuff you want but without stress, you ain’t gonna achieve very much.
No stress in your life equals no results.
Just look at your old high school buddies who are lounging around and not working. They have no stress. But they’re bored and they’re definitely not happy.
Good stress often leads to accomplishment which then can lead to a spoonful of happiness.
If you’re reading this you’re not the type of person who will be happy when you’re bored.
A fair amount of stress is good.
It creates a tension in your life that propels you into action.
And as you deal with more and more of it, you accomplish more. Little things that freaked you out before, like collecting rent cheques, don’t phase you at all.
It’s worth noting that high amounts of stress are bad.
You can’t pile on stress so high that you knock yourself out.
You grow into it by getting started with something that scares you.
Ask anyone you know who owns rental property. They were likely scared out of their skull for the first few months. A few short years later they likely look back laughing at what they once thought was a stressful situation.
We were at a conference recently where someone dropped this line…
The amount of stress you encounter is in direct proportion to the size of the legacy you leave.
How cool is that?
Almost peeing in my pants wasn’t a bad thing … it was actually an event that propelled my butt into action.
So the next time you almost pee in your pants, don’t think of it as a bad thing … think of it as a tipping point to accomplishing great things.
In fact, we should probably all almost pee in our own pants more often.
Maybe just don’t let anyone see it 🙂
Until next time …
Your Life! Your Terms!
p.s. Thanks, Mr. Mexican American superstar … you gave this guy the push he needed and changed the course of his life.