39) Some Freedom, No Prestige – My Job with Sherwin-Williams Paint

In the last post you read about my big, impressive career selling mansions on Nob Hill. In this post you will read how I knew so much I decided to leave a great job running a hotel on Nob Hill and sell paint for Sherwin Williams.

Scrambling to  Survive – One Outcome of Immature Judgement

Readers that have followed until now have seen me describe “cutting corners” to make things work after I arrived in California. I did not see it that way at the time. Like you, maybe, I see it clearly now. I can no longer justify lying and cheating to get what I want. I suppose if I were starving, I would not have the luxury of this point of view. I have lived in both worlds. These early years in California are mostly about one and not the other.

More Bad Judgement – Saying Anything to Get A Job

Determined that I could not live on the room, board and small salary the residence club provided, and that direct sales appealed to me, I secured an interview with Sherwin-Williams, a chemical coatings (paint) company. My initial phone conversation to get the interview went something like this: “Yeah, I know a lot of the painting contractors that are prospects for your exterior paint.” “I met them during the renovations of The San Francisco Residence Club at California and Powell Street, where I am the Manager.” I said. This was not a lie but close, since I knew a FEW of the painting contractors (although from the same company). “I live right near some of the major hotels and could easily introduce myself to the hotel maintenance crews that might be VERY interested in your interior paints.” I recall saying.

Know Yourself First – Then Don’t Compromise Your Search for Your Life’s Work

In spite of my big sale at Sherwin-Williams and finding direct sales generally to my liking, I really didn’t know if I was suited for sales. Mostly introverted and not wanted to be a pest, I took sales rejection personally and didn’t understand why people wouldn’t at least listen to my pitch with an open mind. There are good reasons of course. But I did not know this at the time. Enough experience to write an entire book on the subject, readers here will understand the comment, sales is a numbers game. Ceteris Paribus (latin for: all other things being equal), the more folks you talk to, the more you will sell. The difficulty of direct sales is under appreciated. However, someone who enjoys sales can go as far as their ambition will take them. As a career, relatively speaking, few possess the profile of aptitudes to have success in a direct sales career. It’s damn hard work and not for everyone, as I was learning. By this time I had experience in health club sales, hotel room sales, real-estate sales and paint sales, so I starting to figure some things out.

If It Doesn’t Fit, Quit – If You Can

So I became a paint salesman (or depending upon who I was talking to) a chemical coatings sales representative for Sherwin-Williams in San Francisco. Not feeling the corporate “vibe” I left after a three months.

Before resigning (becoming a disturbing habit) I did secure a very large paint sales account with Trans-America – the pyramid-shaped building that is prominent on the San Francisco skyline. I cold-called and sold them on-the-spot!

As sales people (and former sales people) tend to do, I will end this post by putting a positive spin on my performances in health club sales, hotel room sales, real estate sales and paint sales by saying, I had some success, but I wasn’t cut out for it.

Did you ever hold a job that made you miserable but believed you couldn’t quit?

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