The Humble Sales Guy

“That’s nice, you look like a Helen. Helen, we’re both in sales. Let me tell you why I suck as a sales man.”

Truth be told, I don’t really suck, but wow have I felt like I do lately.

September 16th was my last official day at Cisco Systems. I was part of a massive layoff in which an estimated 14,000 people were laid off globally. My worst year was 126% of quota (my first) and in my last year, I was 131% of quota, so I hung my head high that it wasn’t a performance issue.

I wasn’t upset, I wasn’t scared, I have a massive network of trusted friends and colleagues, I founded IT in the D, “I got this!” I thought…Well, as it turns out, I didn’t have it at all…

d9fe619ce75a215845409c73745e68a3Over the past two months, I have been humbled to say the least. These two months are the longest I have been out of work over the past 28 years combined. I have been on more job interviews than over the past 28 years combined. I have received more ‘decline’ emails than in the past 28 years combined.

It took everything I had, but I even wrote a blog and announced my open candidacy called “The Bat Signal”.

My peer group, friends and network were amazing. Although initially everyone said, “Well, I’m not worried about you, you’ll be fine!”. All the while I thought in the back of my head, “Well, I wish someone would worry about me!”

The outpouring of support, phone calls, emails and well wishes were over the top amazing. One Friday, I remember getting eight phone calls from ex-Cisco colleagues, customers and partners asking how I was.  I’m not sure how much they knew it meant to me, so I’m telling them now.

mertquoteIt’s amazing to me how much the job landscape has changed. When I started in IT in 1998, I was selling beer, transitioned to selling colocation, T1s and DS3 and was President’s Club my first year. Fast forward to today and I was told everything from “you’re just a channel guy” to “I hired a Cisco guy once and it didn’t work” to “you don’t know cloud” (even though I sold ‘shared hosting in 2000, converged infrastructure in 2008 and hyper-converged infrastructure in 2015).

This process has thought me a lot about my resiliency, my tenaciousness and my willingness to achieve. Sure, I could have drove Route 66 to LA, I could have drove around Michigan, I could have gone on a major bender, but I went to work. My job was finding a job.

So I am proud to say that I received three formal offers in a week and another informal offer over the phone. While my search is over, I will forever be in debt to those that vouched for me, made the extra call and looked out for me when I needed it most.

And for that, I say thank you, cheers, prost, nostrovia…

In the meantime, I wrote How Not to Suck at Finding a Job a few years back and it still holds true today.