I started work at my new/old summer job at Radio Shack yesterday. I was a little apprehensive about going back to Radio Shack having worked there for six years before from 1995 to 2001. I was afraid I would feel like I was moving backwards a bit after being a college instructor for the past several years. But most of all I was afraid I had lost my golden sales touch. I always considered myself a good salesperson, both in my ability to meet demanding sales goals and in my ability to do so while keeping the customers’ interests at heart. But I was worried that I would not be able to jump right in to a retail environment and be able to perform like I could when I was younger (Sounds like a Viagra ad, doesn’t it?).
The good news is that I have been back at Radio Shack for two days now and I had amazing sales both days. My theory is that having a mentally taxing job like teaching philosophy for so long has made me appreciate the virtues of having a job with relatively simple and straightforward daily goals. So today I was having a great time greeting customers, selling cellular phones and extended service plans, and generally enjoying the familiarity of being back in my old game.
In fact, teaching and selling are actually very similar skills, insofar as you have to explain things clearly to people of all sorts of intelligence levels, and like in philosophical argumentation you must respond to objections from customers. The process is very similar to the defenses I have done for my M.A. thesis and my Ph.D. qualifying exam prospectus. The ability to respond to critiques and objections serves one well in argumentation and in sales (not to mention other domains, like politics).
So in short, my thought for the evening is “I still got it.” I was always one of the top sales associates in my former district when I was working my way through college, and I literally blew the sales numbers through the roof at work today. So I am looking forward to a fun summer of working at Radio Shack. It is like trying on an old sweater that fits really well and is well-broken-in. Radio Shack treated me well and paid me well enough to put myself through college, and hopefully it will again do the same thing with my Ph.D. when the teaching work is not forthcoming.
One thing I have learned is that you cannot be proud about what you do to earn a living. Yes, I am still a college professor, but I have built houses, been a Radio Shack sales associate, been a coffee shop barista, and been a professional dumpster diver to make ends meet. They each had their virtues and their drawbacks, and I wouldn’t give up any of them for the other. So that is my advice to you, my readers, on this beautiful Saturday evening: do not be too proud about what you do for a living. A job is still a job, regardless of its prestige or position, and the same long-term investment strategy will apply regardless of your station in life or how you bring home the bacon. Keep saving and investing a percentage of each paycheck you bring home into long term investments. If you follow this advice, you too will someday be rich, even if it is from a job like Radio Shack.