Have you heard of skill stacking? It looks like I’ve been doing it without realising it!
In the olden days…
Way, way back in the olden days, I used to work as a sales rep for various laboratory and medical supply companies. It was a job I took after the ex smashed the car while drunk and we needed a new one – quick smart! Because it was smashed when he was DUI it wasn’t covered by insurance and we couldn’t afford to buy another one.
Some days I loved that sales job but I have to be honest and say most days I hated it! Smooching around trying to get people to buy stuff… well let’s say it felt a bit soulless. I wasn’t really that good at it. I didn’t have the killer instinct. I moved from one job to another, progressively earning more and more in the heady days of the late ‘80s when greed was good and consumerism rife! My last job was with Esso (Exxon in the US)! Man that’s SO far away from my current values! My sales repping days came to an end once we had a kid and then I took up teaching.
Road tripping Job
The bit I liked the most was the road trip bit. In two of my positions, my territory included South Western NSW. I’d spend days out there, driving from one country town to another, spruiking my wares which included disposable single use plastic laboratory and surgical stuff. It was low profit but high volume and everyone who had a lab or a surgical ward needed it. Petri dishes, pipettes, multi-well serology trays, sterile bandages and dressings….that sort of stuff.
I particularly liked it in winter. The sun would beam into the company car and make it a warm cosy haven. I’d have the mixed tape cranking from the stereo, and I’d sing along. I didn’t have much trouble getting appointments. I was a young, good looking woman and I dressed to impress!
I had some interesting times at conferences where companies like mine would throw around the cash trying to win sales and influence people. I also had some genuinely good times like when I visited the DeBortoli winery out in Griffith, NSW when they were still a very small family concern. I chatted with one of the sons for ages and sampled some of their wine. We talked about these new fangled wine casks that were going to change the market! He was convinced they’d make it big one day and they have!
I did enough to hit my targets most months and talked my way out of the months I didn’t. However with the arrival of a family, this free-wheeling travelling roadshow had to come to an end. While I enjoyed the days out west and travelling around in the country, I hated the days in the city. I hated cold calling. I hated following up on nebulous leads and in some respects I was not disciplined enough to handle the autonomy. Some days I’d sit in the car park of a hospital for ages trying to get up the courage to go inside. I did however, become a gun at navigating around Sydney streets when paper directories were the only guide!!
Today, in my new job, I was once again driving from one country town to another in the weak winter sun in a hybrid electric car. I had the tunes cranking out via the bluetooth from my phone and I was singing along. (Incidentally to the same tunes!!!) I was warm and cozy but this time I’m not selling anything. I’m supporting public schools and it’s an ethical endeavour. I’m better at being independent and working autonomously. All the same I couldn’t help but think this job has stacked my skills in an interesting way.
Some of what I do is very “salesy”. Cajoling principals to take action when things are not going well in their school. Following up and pushing them along when times get messy. At the same time I get to use the knowledge I’ve gained in the last decade on what it takes to manage a school in a crisis. I can talk the talk and walk the walk.
It’s an unexpected blend I feel really comfortable with!