Ghosts of National Sales Meetings Past…Awards Dinner Speeches
The culmination of days of torture punctuated
by a parade of egos and assholes
encased in a pep rally and a bedtime fairy tale from the founder.
Anytime I watch Jimmy Fallon and he does the ‘Thank You,’ notes, segment, I laugh. As a kid, my mom (a la Emily Post), made us sit down after every holiday and birthday and write thank you notes. I hated it at the time (mainly because outside of saying ‘thank you,’ there wasn’t might else an eight-year-old had to say in a hand-written letter, to their grandparents, aunts, and uncles).
One year at work, I was having a particularly hard time and was on the dreaded PIP (Performance Improvement Plan). These plans are not designed to ‘improve,’ they are designed to eliminate. I was at 93% to quota and my company was trying to eliminate me, or rather a selective few were. Yes, it’s like getting kicked out of school for getting a low A.
I despise injustice and used that as my motivation. Well, that and the National Sales Meeting held right after my PIP was ending (either in termination) or with determination I would be there to celebrate with my peers, helped get me through. One of the Gods among Mere Mortals had come to work with me during that time, and I thanked him for the opportunity to work for such a great organization in case I didn’t get the chance to do so in January, at the National Sales Meeting. I didn’t tell him wanting or asking special treatment. I genuinely wanted to thank him for all that he’d taught me. One of my favorites was, ‘A paranoid engineer is a good engineer and a paranoid rep is a great rep.’
The Awards Dinner, as I’ve previously said, was our industry’s answer to Oscar night, or , upon further reflection, the AVN awards (porn). The ‘Rep of the Year’ and ‘Rookie of the Year,’ and ‘The Manager (most likely to take credit for their reps work and be awarded stock options) of The Year,’ are usually are given the opportunity to give a small speech (and these are likely to suck all of the oxygen out of the room). Again, we’re not a modest group. Some of my favorites are when the ‘rookie,’ stands in front of seasoned reps and offers advice in their speech about how we could be more like them and see the same success. Most of us hear it and laugh, it’s cute.
I say this with no jealousy, only fact-based evidence over time, ‘Rookie of the Year,’ is likely to be ‘Bottom of the Barrel,’ the following year. It’s not really their fault, it’s the way quotas are designed. It’s always better to be in the upper 1/3 of the company and you can (usually) sustain your job year after year. It’s all a numbers game and it’s us (reps) vs. them (management).
I knew that year, there was no way I’d be giving a speech, regardless if I got off PIP. I imagined almost every morning as I worked my way through the equivalent of a monkey forced to dance on a street corner list of ‘improvements,’ from the PIP, that I would say two things to people at the National Sales Meeting: ‘Thank You,’ to the people who helped develop my career, and ‘Fuck You,’ to those that tried to harm my career. It always made me laugh and further still if I thought about writing out cards like I did as a kid, with my mom standing there asking, ‘Did you finish your ‘Thank you/Fuck You cards yet?’ I would laugh so hard that it helped me see the humor in the injustice I was living.
I hit my quota, no thanks to a few who did everything they could to stand in my way. They tried to block orders from my accounts, so I would purposely miss my number (on top of all the other fun stuff). I’d say there’s a special place in hell for them, but they’ll just be going home.
I purchased a very special $3,000 Alexander McQueen* white suit, and $1,200 pink alligator Christian Dior shoes to celebrate. Plus, I wanted to remember what I was wearing when I got to the stage, and one of two (in particular) that were responsible for putting me on PIP at 93% to quota, was forced to congratulate me, in front of my peers, and I looked him dead in the eyes, smiled, and said, ‘Fuck You.’
*I was in a phase that I didn’t know how miserable I really was and purchased things to try and make me happy. And, yes, I guess I do remember what I was wearing when I directed Satan back to hell, so there was some benefit.
These people and places are really insignificant in the grand picture. They were nothing more than pawns in a game, that I effortless would navigate around as I advanced leaving them behind with the damage they’d caused. Again, if a company is willingly overlooking EEOC violations, then they are much more likely to engage in far greater illegal activity. This is regardless of industry.