Chapter 7: Game Time
A few weeks go by and the largest layoff in XXXXXXX’s history happens – and my manager that said the weird stuff to me and then bullied me - is let go.
You’d think I would’ve been rejoicing, but I didn’t care.
The damage had already been done.
I now have a new manager – and she’s the woman who didn’t like me the second I met her.
The one who, when interviewing me, actually rolled her eyes when I wasn’t answering conflict-questions to her satisfaction.
Katie hopped on the next flight out to Portland for a few meetings at campus - including one with me. She wanted to discuss my sales numbers on where I think I would land in a year.
This was a problem – this was a huge problem.
My former manager had always just given those numbers to me, so I didn’t know how to do it. I had never had to do it by myself. And now, I felt like I couldn’t reach out to my colleagues for help because of everything. And I wouldn’t dare ask Katie…
So, after hours and hours of trying to predict where I would fall a year out – I just couldn’t. I didn’t know how. So instead, I brought my Y paper.
“WHERE ARE YOUR NUMBERS?!” she YELLS in a conference room with about 30 of my colleagues.
And everyone who had been quietly working immediately plucks their heads up like little gophers and stared at me in horror.
“Well, I have this?” and I slid her the 70-page Y paper.
And she slid it right back to me.
She didn’t even look at it.
“I don’t care about this! Jessie, you are SO FAR BEHIND! This is going to take SO MUCH work to get you up and running! I can’t believe you’ve been here for a year and a half and you don’t even know how to do this!”
“Be patient with us,” they had said…
“Well, what about my Y idea?” as my voice trembles…
“That is NOT profitable! You can no longer work on this! I can’t believe you’ve spent ANY time on this! I don’t even have time for you right now. We will HAVE to talk about this over the phone when I get back home. This is going to take FOREVER to bring you up to speed!”
And then she grabbed her XXXXXXXXX bag, marched out of the room, and shortly thereafter caught a flight home on the next broomstick out of town.
….and with my face burning from humiliation, the woman who was sitting at the same table as me, leaned over and whispered,
“Jesus Christ, you have to work for her?”
So, it’s not just me thinking Katie's a nightmare…
Katie was right to be upset that I didn’t know how to accurately predict my sales numbers for a year out…
This is one of the hardest things to do – for so many people. Sales reps, managers, investors – they all have a tough time doing this because there is no perfect formula.
I actually remember asking how they set the quotas there and the only answer I ever got was,
“They just pull the number out of the f*%@ing air.”
There are literally a million factors that go into this, but I didn’t know that then…
But she did.
And she could’ve helped me.
But she didn’t.
She chose to humiliate me instead.
In retrospect, I should have just predicted that I’d be up in every category and know a few highlights as well as a few things that might be of concern – and then only share the concerned points that I was already currently solving - to get Katie off my ass.
And for the life of me,
- I still can’t understand -
How come sales reps get the shit kicked out of them for their numbers,
when no one can ever tell them how those numbers are set?
It’s only their livelihoods on the line.
No big deal.
So within our first meeting, Katie had belittled me in front of my peers and forbidden me to work on my life’s purpose.
And her justification for not working on the Y concept was that she said they’d never buy from us, all they were looking for was a handout, and the idea was not viable.
But they were buying from us…
And the “handout” was a donation that had already been set aside for them…
And the idea was already proving to be viable…
And all of the Y people who I had met were already on board…
I’m so confused.
Shortly after Katie got home, she put me on an “action plan” to “help my progress” where she required me to submit my hourly schedule for the entire week each Monday morning and then recap my daily activities by the end of day – every single day.
Her “coaching” was a lot like HR’s “coaching.”
Also around this same time, but prior to my meeting with Katie, the Y wanted to order through XXXXXXXX.com – but Mark insisted on having them order through a distributor. I tried to tell Mark that the Y wasn’t happy with this and he said, “well, they can go somewhere else and buy then.”
I wondered if Mark only got credit if he grew that particular distributor’s sales instead of XXXXXXXXX.com’s.
I told Katie that I couldn’t let the Y go because it’d be completely disrespectful to just drop them out of no where, especially after working with them for months now...
So, she lined up a conference call with Mark and me.
During the call Mark says, “All right Jess, you can seek out only the corporate social responsibility side of it and then you need to hand it off. You are not allowed to spend any more time on this after you do that.”
This killed me.
This was literally the ONLY reason why I was still working there.
Shortly after that conversation we had another sales meeting.
This time, the entire sales force was invited to Portland because the largest layoffs in XXXXXXXXX’s history had just occurred and they wanted to bring everyone together.
You could just imagine my excitement.
I was about to give up ALL hope on my life’s purpose, but then something exceptional happened at that sales meeting.
I had actually been praying for this.
Naturally, I was standing in the corner of this gigantic room all by myself – and then the man who wasn’t the CEO but was as close to being the CEO as possible, walked onto stage. And he started talking about what we had just been through and that it was one of the worst times in his life because he had to let so many friends go…
I kid you not
He literally said
- through teary eyes -
“If you have an idea, come to me.”
He had literally just resuscitated me back to life.
But you see, you don’t actually ever do what Mr. X said – but, he didn’t know that – because he’s at the top, he doesn’t see or face the same kind of bullshit that everyone far below him experiences there.
And, I knew this, but…
If you’re literally told at the last sales meeting to go to Mr. X through his own tears with an idea to help…
Then, why the hell not?
I wonder how many ideas never happen because of politics.
So now, it’s Monday, June 22nd…
So now, I’ve got to submit my hourly schedule, just like I’ve done for about six weeks before 8 am…
So now, I’m on the phone with Katie again for a good hour because she’s not happy with the thoroughness of my hourly schedule I just submitted for the week…
So now, she’s beating me up again…
So now, she’s belittling me again…
So now, she’s bullying me again…
So now, she’s yelling at me again…
So now, I just want to die again…
So now, we hang up…
So now, I’m f*^king over it.
I walked into my bedroom, opened my closet door, grabbed my new heels that I had been saving to wear for the first time for a special occasion - and slid ‘em on.
It was game time.
When are people going to learn that if you keep kicking someone,
they’ll eventually start swinging back?
I hop in my car and head up to campus.
I had no idea where Mr. X’s office was – so I parked in the first open spot I could find – which ended up being about 2 miles from where I was supposed to go.
I hobbled around for a good 25 minutes outside, in the heat, all while those beautiful new heels were creating the worst blisters ever.
God, please – please, please - just give me the right words. I have no idea what you want me to say…but, please help me…
I finally found Mr. X’s building after what I thought was an eternity. It turns out senior SENIOR management has their own building.
I walked in and was greeted by three women.
“I need to see Mr. X.”
“Do you work for XXXXXX?”
But you better hurry up lady, because probably not for very much longer…
And then I walked into the elevator, the doors shut, and I was officially nervous. As soon as the elevator opened, I sprinted into the closest bathroom.
I’m gonna vom…
I run the water and throw some on my face to try to calm down. Then a nice woman comes into the bathroom and asks, “Honey, are you okay?”
She laughs and asks who I’m there to see.
“Oh, I know where he sits, I can take you over there. We’ll leave when you’re ready. Take your time.”
My little angel…
“Okay, I’m ready.”
We walked out of the ladies’ room and passed by about 20 admins who were working there for ONLY the top 5 people at XXXXXXXXXX.
Wow, these people are busy AF…I better make this quick…
And then we arrived at Mr. X’s personal admin’s desk.
“Good luck, hun.”
“Hi! I need to see Mr. X please.”
“Do you have an appointment?”
“Do you work for XXXXXX?”
“What’s this about?”
“A business strategy, it’ll take 5 minutes, maybe less.”
“Wait right here.”
His door was open the entire time and he had heard the whole thing – he waves me in and stands up to come greet me and shake my hand.
“Hi, I’m X.”
“Hi, I’m Jessie…Look, this could either be the smartest meeting I’ve ever had or the stupidest.”
“Haha, why do you say that?”
“Because I’m going to get fired for coming in here.”
“Hahaha! No, you won’t.”
“Can I have that in writing, sir?”
“Hahaha!! What’s your idea?”
He thinks I’m kidding…
“I need your help obtaining the corporate social responsibility component for a new partnership with the YMCA…
There, I just covered my ass…
…I think we need to start selling to them,” and then I mentioned the number of members, showed a few maps, mentioned that it could help tremendously with all of our categories, and threw in the fact that we could sell footwear, apparel, and equipment – not just uniforms.
“I love it - why hasn’t this been done before?”
“Why aren’t we running this idea through XXXXXXXX.com?”
“I’m not sure,” but I knew we weren’t running it that way because of Mark. But I couldn’t throw Mark under the bus then because he was still technically my mentor at that moment – but not really at all…
“Take it to XXXXXX.com to Paul and tell him I sent you – and keep me updated.”
“You got it – thanks X.”
I had made more progress on my idea with Mr. X in 10 minutes than I had in over a year with my management.
And that would be my second-best sales meeting of my life.
- BECAUSE -
Someone at THAT level at XXXXXX
/// BELIEVED ///
in my idea.
I walked over to Paul’s office with my new heels, new blisters, and new vote of confidence.
Paul loved my idea too.
I asked him what he wanted to do for next steps and he mentioned that he would speak with the woman in charge of XXXXXXX team uniform sales.
“Would that happen to be AAAAAAAAAA?” I ask.
This is the woman who is Mark’s friend – who he plays music with at his house on the weekends.
This could either be really good or really bad, but I had a feeling it was going to be really bad.
After that meeting, I get in my car and head home.
And now it was that time of day where I have to summarize everything I did and send it to my manager. You know – so she could help “coach” me to “success.”
So, I sent an email to Katie and cc’d Mark, Mr. X, and Paul:
· Planned/submitted hourly plans for this week to you
· Followed up with ZZZZZZ soccer club regarding next steps to get into XXXXXX uniforms
· Spoke with Mr. X about the Y project – he loved it and advised me to speak with Paul who runs XXXXXXXXXX.com
· Spoke to Paul and he loved it too; I emailed him attachments with all of the information and he has already looped in a few members from his team.
· Contacted corporate social responsibility to give them an update
And then I shut down my laptop, cracked open a beer and started saying my first prayer out of about 9 million that night.