Your first job
I was a retail salesperson at Foot-Action in the Roosevelt Field Mall. I was 15 years old and a student in High School. I was tasked with selling high end sneakers (mostly Nike, Reebok, Adidas, with some Pumas, Sketchers and other brands mixed in). It was good walking around money for a teenager and having a commission plan in place sowed the seeds of my interest in sales/business.
1. My first boss
His name was Marc and he was super ambitious. He was a good guy. He held everyone on the team accountable but was fair, for the most part (no boss is perfect). Outside of work, he invited me to play on his softball team, which was a lot of fun.
2. I learned to hustle
Did someone pick up a pair of $144 Air Max '95's? You better greet them within 15 seconds! And don't forget to demo a sneaker cleaner. HAVE TO UP SELL!!!!
The store floor was like a sea and us sales people were like sharks swimming in it. Some of the older salespeople were very territorial and didn't appreciate having a young upstart eating into their commissions. One of them actually literally shoved me out of the way when one of their regular customers started asking me to see some pairs of shoes. I learned to operate in a cut-throat environment.
I also learned the importance of a warm, genuine, measured first approach. No one likes having an aggressive sales person invade their space, interrogate them, and feel like you've got your hand in their pocket already. Instead, greet them warmly, let them know that you're there if they need any help, and listen to what they say (or don't say).
3. Star Struck
The New York Jets had training camp across the street at Hofstra University. Many of the NY Jets players and coaches would come in and buy sneakers for me.
I also got to help Busta Rhymes. He bought 3 pairs of Nike Air Sunders from me in different colors ($99 a pop).
4. I met my prom date through a coworker
She was beautiful. I got really lucky.
5. I got a friend a job....and he promptly lost it
A friend of mine asked if I could help him get a job there, and I did. Not too long after, he got busted stealing a pair of expensive Nike sneakers. My boss fired him but didn't press charges, as he was a kid and didn't want him to have a record. It's super important to be careful with the people that you refer, because fair or not, the people that you refer can reflect on you and your judgement of people. I apologized to my boss, telling him that up until that point, I had no reason to think that he would do something like that. He appreciated me addressing it with him and didn't hold it against me.
6. I ate some terrible mall food.
The worst. So bad for you. If you ever work in a mall, bring your own food.
7. Success is making your manager's life easier
You’ll know you’re doing a great job at the point when your manager requests that you do something, and you’ve anticipated the need and done it already. At some point in your career, you’ll get to the stage when you’re making big decisions and achieving significant wins in your own right, but at entry level, most of what you’re doing will simply be making your manager’s life easier; concentrating on minutiae and getting menial tasks done so that they can focus on more important things.