Friday, April 29, 2016

I was an Epic Failure at Direct Sales

I don't know if I've every actually acknowledged it, certainly don't think I ever said it out loud, but the truth is, I was an epic failure at direct sales. It was painful and humiliating and really hard to get through. The crazy thing, is that the only person who really saw it was my husband. 

Everyone around me saw me as a success. All in different ways, and for different reasons. And that made it all the more painful. 

I started my direct sales experience like a freaking rocket. I promoted to the first significant leadership level and earned the annual company incentive trip both in my first 3 months in the business. I was invited on stage for huge regional events to share my story. The big names in the company all heard my name and connected with me. And I connected with them. I saw myself in them SO much. From the first big meeting, I totally saw myself as those top level earners. I really got it, I did. AND I did the work. I did SO much work. My husband will tell you, I did some crazy stuff. My leader would tell me to knock on doors, and I would literally knock on doors. My leader would tell me to go to the mall and talk to strangers and I would do JUST that. She herself at one point said, "I'd NEVER do the things you've done."

But the bottom line is that I never got there. I earned an OK income and it definitely got our family through a tough financial time, but I never got there. I was never able to replace my full time income. I actually lost my leadership title and gained it back 3 separate times. The weirdest thing is that because I worked so hard, because I never gave up, more and more people saw me as successful. Cool amazing inspirational people who I looked up to and respected, they became friends. They learned my name. From the home office people, to the trainers, to the top earners, to industry trainers.

And when I left one direct sales company and joined another the same thing happened. 

But why couldn't I make it? I could never figure it out, and it broke my heart. It made me feel worthless. It made me feel like a failure. I could talk about the things outside of myself that contributed to the low points, but that's so not the point. I failed. I couldn't make it work for me. No matter how hard I tried.

It wasn't until I stepped back, and later had a conversation with a friend who made one of those innocuous comments that are so profound and deep that I saw it. 

*PLEASE TAKE NOTE* I love the industry. Anything I say about why I found it not a right fit for me is meant in no way to disparage the industry. I believe in the industry and its ability to change lives in a huge way.

I am insanely proud of the fact that I am unique. I don't follow pop culture, I reject it. I've never followed the clothing fads or the music trends. And if you hear me talk about that, I am really proud of it. I'm really glad that I'm different. I really kind of strive to be different. 

As I worked in the direct sales industry, I tried to create a brand and a business that was bigger than "just" the company I rep'd for. First it was Wine, Women & Wax and after I changed companies it became Whole Self Nourish. I felt bigger than the container I was in. Not in an arrogant or self indulgent way, but in a way that felt in-authentic to me. 

The thing that makes the direct sales industry awesome is its rinse and repeat model. It's a totally accessible way for people to reach the business ownership model and level with low investment and overhead and minimal training. 

It turns out, I'm not so much a rinse and repeat kind of girl. And you know what, that's totally OK. In fact, it's better than OK. It's kind of awesome.

So now, I'm carving my own path. I'm figuring out what comes next for me and how being me is going to change the world, and next I'll figure out how to get paid for it. 

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