Chapter 3: Full Timer
I was supposed to live in San Francisco, but they moved this position to be based out of Oregon at the last minute. I was also told that they were going to cancel the position entirely, but for some reason – they proceeded on with it.
I wasn’t greeted very warmly by a few colleagues in the LA office. There was actually a man who I had worked with a little on the tour, who had even interviewed me for that position – and now he wasn’t happy that I was there because his own candidate didn’t get in.
In fact, my “welcome” from him was, “you know we had someone else we thought was going to get your job.”
But, if you interviewed and hired me for the tour, you must’ve seen something?
I didn’t have an official job description at first – which to some people, that’d be great. But for me, it was unnerving. I didn’t know what they wanted me to be doing and they couldn’t tell me either, so I just went with the flow and went to meetings and listened and tried to learn.
In fact, I was actually told by Mark, “just be patient with us.”
In retrospect, not having an official job description was really actually kind of neat – it frees you up and allows you to learn multiple perspectives and problems, which I kept storing in my notes and my mind every day.
Around a year into my life there, my position became more defined. I finally got my own accounts and was tied to numbers and responsible for growing those numbers. It was more of a hard core sales position now, not marketing or PR as much as my first year had turned out to be.
In those short few months, I noticed that there was an insane amount of politics at play - I didn’t understand it either.
I literally would be in an office and someone would be talking about someone else – then that person would walk in and they’d be best friends.
It was confusing AF.
And it made me nervous - I never knew who was really on whose team.
And it made me wonder who was really on my team.
As my position became defined and I got the responsibility of growing sales, I was trying to think how I was going to do that while keeping in mind the multiple departments’ problems and obstacles.
After a year of learning obstacles, how contracts were written, agreements, benefits, price points, etc - I wanted to make something special happen while incorporating it into my job’s responsibilities, which was to grow soccer sales.
Okay God, I’ve been here for a little while now – what do you want me to do? I still don’t feel like I know what my life’s purpose is – how can I help you?
And then one day it hit me – like a bolt of lightning.
Literally, I got the goosebumps and it ran from my head to my toes and back up again. Then again. And again.
I finally had figured out my purpose.
I was told to grow soccer uniform sales in my territory. I was given accounts, saw their book of business, and noticed something interesting…
Not one of my accounts was selling to a YMCA.
I grew up playing at the YMCA and I also coached there.
And when I was coaching at the Y in college, I had to buy all of the uniforms myself and then two players quit early on and I never got paid for those uniforms. Also, the Y told me to buy my team’s uniforms from anywhere I could find – they didn’t point me into any direction nor did I get any sort of amazing discount. It felt pretty daunting, especially as a volunteer.
Back to Google. I typed in YMCA.
Turns out, the Y has a ton of members that play all sports, not just soccer.
How many members, you might be thinking?
Well, it turns out that the YMCA is global – and it turns out they have 58 million members. And that doesn’t even include all of the participants in their different athletic programs – that’s just registered members.
This could help out all of the categories and all of my soccer colleagues too - even my global colleagues!
Not to mention all of the participants at the Y – they could get quality uniforms at great price points and might even get free product...
Basically, I knew, at this point that I could help the greatest amount of people I could have ever dreamed of.
So, this is it - this is how it’s supposed to feel when you discover your life’s purpose.
I immediately picked up the phone and called the Y - they told me they were already talking to someone else at my company and that I needed to connect with that person along with two other people at the Y.
It turns out, the Y was already talking to someone from my corporate social responsibility team – but I was from sales.
I was told later that I had been the first person from sales to try to team up with anyone in corporate social responsibility.
Nobody had ever approached the Y as a whole - no one had ever looked at the Y this way.
I approached the woman who was working in corporate social responsibility and she said she would set aside some free product for them – and she told me the amount - and that gave me the goosebumps, again.
It was around this time that I started lining up meetings internally about the Y. I had talked individually with the footwear, apparel, and equipment managers all about this concept - and no one was exactly thrilled.
I didn’t understand why they weren’t excited. The numbers were and to this day - are astounding.
And I figured out how to structure it in such a way that makes sense for all parties involved.
And the Y was just one prospect in mind - there are others that would benefit and be a perfect fit for this idea as well.
The problem is – people’s perspectives and their antiquated beliefs.
I wonder how often perspectives hold new ideas back.
A lot of my colleagues never played at the Y like I did.
A lot of my colleagues never coached there.
A lot of my colleagues never volunteered there.
A lot of my colleagues never lived in the South - where there are Ys practically every 30 miles.
I actually got laughed at because of my YMCA idea.
I’ll never forget, I set up a meeting with the decision makers on my team and within the first 10 minutes one man asked, “What does the ‘C’ stand for in YMCA?”
Then everyone laughed at me.
It was one of the weirdest moments ever – and it didn’t make any sense to me.
“I don’t get it?” I said.
“Christian. The word, Christian.”
And then the room erupted into laughter.
But we have partnerships with tons of religious colleges and programs already…
I’ll never forget the sound of all the men laughing at me.
And, these were my leaders?
It just didn’t make any sense.
It was the first astounding "what the actual #%&*" moment that I had there.
There would be many more that would soon follow.