“Most people don’t realize how important selling is—“
“Lars, Lars, honestly.” At this point, Tom finally had enough.
He smiled and tried to look reasonable and kind. “This is a sales office. We are in ‘sales.’ We realize selling is important, because that’s how we feed our children.”
“Yes, but look at you,” Lars continued. “The first thing you’re selling is yourself, and you’re a slob. Khakis and a company polo shirt—not even tucked in—and, my goodness, look at those arms.”
Tom lowered the doughnut from his lips and reflexively pumped his bicep as Lars chattered on. True, he hasn’t hit the gym reliably since Molly was born, but he wasn’t in bad shape, either. Still, he thought, Molly is in college now.
And not for the first time that morning did Tom consider how the truths to which others cling might not be your own, but they are no less valid.
Appearances do matter, but another truth emerged. Maybe not a truth, he reflected, but a persistent fact, like the silvery flash of a minnow beneath his stream of thought.
“But not to phone sales.”
Lars paused as if he had forgotten Tom was even in the bleak little excuse for lunchroom with him. And, in a rare moment of clarity, Lars took in his immediate surroundings.
The cloudy, stained coffee pot.
The glass of the microwave, yellowed with the steamy billows of countless bags of instant popcorn with artificial buttery flavoring.
The veneer peeling off countertop where Jerry’s belt loop snagged the week before, tearing his trousers. The mismatched chairs. The government-required notices about lifting heavy objects.
“I’m, I’m sorry…?” Lars said, apprehensively, then stopped again.
“But not to phone sales,” Tom repeated, nodding his head.
“No,” Lars said, unconsciously nodding his head as well. “No, I guess it really doesn’t. But I guess the suit does give me confidence, and that matters to sales, right? They can hear confidence in your voice.” Lars looked to Tom.
“Agreed. But you can also attain confidence in knowing yourself,” said Tom. “Almost as important as knowing your customers. You need to listen. To understand what motivates them. These are all simple things. You know it and I know it. You need to internalize and act upon that knowledge.”
“Like you, for instance, Lars. I listen. God, how I listen,” Tom laughed. “I know what motivates you to host these impromptu lectures, and to buy these suits and cars that are obviously beyond your means. You’re insecure, Lars. You’re afraid you’ll be here, selling policy upgrades with us for the rest of your life.
And what if you are? This isn’t your life, Lars. It is a means to an end. You work so that you can do other things. Stop constantly trying to ‘position’ yourself and take a moment to appreciate the position you are in? Right now, I am here. Where are you? Where do you need to be?”
Lars sat. Lars sat besides Tom—almost uncomfortably close—and reached across Tom to pull a doughnut from the box.
Lars left a faint trail of white powder across the breast of his impeccable wool jacket and red silk tie, embroidered with small, black goats.
Lars chewed and thought about goats and their weird eyes.
Rating: One black goat out of five.
A bit of meaningless blather getting between you and the enjoyment of your morning routine. Either Herjavec got one of his people to write this, meaning he’s fine with banal work and just wants the content out there. Or, he wrote it and thinks this is exactly the sort of inspiration people want.