It was fun, but I quit and never looked back.
|Queen for a While
by Marilyn Mackenzie
My first memory is as a 3-year old, clinging to my mom’s skirt at a Stanley Home party. The sales person was kind. I'm sure she wanted to talk with my mom, so she gave me a sales receipt and a pencil so I could write my own order.
I was timid even as a teen and young adult. After I left my first husband and the northern climate and set out on my own, I began to reinvent myself.
No one in Houston knew that I was shy. I secured a job that I dearly loved. A few weeks later, I had to speak to 300 angry home owners, and I did it. In school, I couldn't even speak up in class when I knew the answer. How I had grown.
A few years later I married again, and had a child just a few weeks before I turned 32. The next year, I wanted our son to have a wonderful Christmas. I also never wanted to buy presents on charge cards. My dad made a good living as a sheet metal mechanic, and my mother worked part time. Still, each year my mom charged everything on charge cards – bank cards, national store cards, and local store cards. By March, the cards were paid off, then came birthdays and then school clothes to buy. I never wanted to be in that position, so I got a part time job.
I started working for Christmas Around the World, a home party sales company, as a supervisor. I recruited seven women and my group sold $18,000 in 5 months. I didn't earn a lot of money, but I had fun and I earned enough to buy Christmas presents for friends and family members without charging anything. I did what I set out to do.
The next year, we moved to Florida, and I was in shock at salaries there. When my son was a toddler, I changed careers and became a day care director so I could be close to him while he socialized. My hubby and I didn't plan on having any other kids with whom our son could play (and fight). The day care owners paid me $6.50 an hour. It was less than I had made working in administrative jobs. But, I enjoyed hearing my son’s laughter through the doors. In Florida, I was offered $4.50 an hour as a "head teacher."
I decided to try just selling and recruiting for Christmas Around the World and that turned out to be a life changing decision. A good one. I earned $8,500 in just 6 months of working part time. My 20 recruits and I sold $116,000 in six months, and I was promoted to District Manager.
The next year, I was promoted to Regional Manager, and soon after to Regional Director. When I left the company after 9 years, I had 6 districts and 600 sales reps under my direction. My region sold over $1.7 million my last year.
The little girl who clung to her mother’s skirts at a home party at the age of 3 became a home party sales manager 30 years later, and loved her job.
This once shy woman could speak to groups of women at home parties. I could create and conduct sales manager training. Most times I trained 40 to 60 at a time.
I learned to negotiate hotel accommodations and meals with some of the best hotels in the area. (I trained my sales managers once at a golf resort – Innisbrook – and paid only $52 a night for two-bedroom suites. Of course, it was in July heat.)
I was able to make a complete fool of myself at sales rallies, dancing and singing and giving away prizes as motivational tools. And I was the featured speaker at each of the districts under my direction, speaking to hundreds of women. If I could do that, any shy person could learn to do so as well.
I was able to recruit easily because I had been shy and had overcome my shyness. What I enjoyed most, though, was sharing my faith. Because ours was a Christian company, the owner put his testimony at the front of our catalog. That opened many doors at parties.
Our company gave 10% of profits to charities, and they were charities in which our sales reps were involved. I could proudly tell where some of the money went in our own county. Two years in a row, the company gave money to my church for vacation Bible school.
Because our company was a Christian company, and because our founder wrote his testimony in the catalog, I was often asked about matters of faith as I packed up after a party. (I was also active in children’s ministry and belonged to a group of children’s ministry workers from all denominations. I was able to suggest churches to people who asked.)
I also enjoyed helping other women grow. I recruited a woman who had only an 8th grade education. She couldn't believe that I wanted to hire her directly into management, but I could see her potential. Because she had worked in a factory for so long, her language was rather crude. In no time, her dress and her way of speaking were transformed. She and her recruits always had top sales in my district.
One of my recruits left me to sell real estate and was quite successful. Another left to sell insurance and did rather well. Still another, an accountant, who was also really shy when she started, became the comptroller after working with me. She worked as a sales manager for two years, then left when she was promoted at her "real" job. After her first meeting with her employees, she called to share that she had used one of my training exercises and her employees were impressed.
While helping women become confident and successful, I earned a decent income. I also earned fantastic trips. My husband and I went on cruises. We had a great Disney trip with our son. (We stayed at a Hilton for a week, had two meals a day paid for, had wonderful entertainment every night, and had a 4-day all park pass. I had to pay $100 for my son to go with us.) We also went on a family trip to Hawaii.
Yes, those were the days... But, one day my son came to me in tears. He said, "Mom, I really love staying in those fancy hotels when you do training for your ladies. I'm proud of you when you do those rallies or when we have award banquets. But I would give up all of that and those great trips to Disney and Hawaii, if you'd just be home with me more often. Didn't you start doing this so you'd have time for me?"
He was right. The reason I started this career was so that I could earn a full time income working part time. My first year in Florida I did just that. But, as I was promoted, things changed. I had to have an office away from home. Although I still often worked part time, there some weeks when I was getting ready for a 3-day training event or for a sales rally or award banquet, when I worked 12-hour days.
The next day, my husband and I talked for a while. Then I called the home office and told them I was quitting and faxed my resignation.
The experience was a good one. I learned to speak in front of people. I learned to negotiate meals and accommodations with hotels.
I learned to arrange fair booths and home show booths. One year, I booked 6 booths (I actually only paid for 2) at a home show and decorated each booth as a room – living room, dining room, bedroom, etc. We arranged for Santa to arrive in the news helicopter, took pictures with Santa and gave the money we got for the pictures to the children’s hospital.
When our company decided we could sell in Puerto Rico, one of my district managers and I went to Puerto Rico to recruit sales managers. We were the first to go to Puerto Rico and we recruited 40 sales managers. Neither of us spoke any Spanish. We recruited bilingual managers, and they were our top sellers for five years.
I traveled to places I'd never been before. And I made many friends throughout the country. But, I allowed that job to take over my life. My sales reps and customers called my home as early as 6 a.m. and as late as midnight.
My son reminded me that I'd forgotten what was most important. My "reign" was fun. But my son was more important than the income, the recognition, and the trips. I quit and I've never looked back.