A few weeks ago, I had the good fortune to attend a company open house where I was able to mix and mingle with some of our amazing manufacturing partners and members of my company’s upper management team. The event was a few hours away, so I had several hours alone in the car to get lost in my own thoughts and reflect on the last month or so as I cruised down the expressway. Naturally, work came to mind. I started thinking about the most recent projects we brought in and how, even that day, two more projects had come in. I started doing the math in my head and it dawned on me that I had hit a large milestone for myself.
In the grand scheme of milestones, mine might not even register on some salespeople’s radars as an achievement. Without getting into specifics, I know a lot of very successful salespeople who might chuckle at my personal milestone, but I know for sure that at least four of you would be envious. Considering my entire journey so far in AV sales, this was a big deal. But then my thoughts drifted back to the workday ahead, and I found myself moving directly into the other boxes I needed to check off for the day and what clients I needed to talk to. I blew right past my big news after having a 30-second mini-celebration in my brain. The celebration had confetti, a cake, and a bit of the bubbly.
After a few days, I started thinking about my milestone again. I wondered, “Why am I not making a bigger deal out of this?” I started to ponder another question, an even more important one: “Why don’t we take time to celebrate our wins or milestones?”
So, of course, I took to Twitter. While I received messages of support from awesome #AVTweeps (opens in new tab), I’m concerned that I don’t acknowledge my wins myself. Once the month is done, we move to the next month, we move to the next quarter, and then to the next year. It’s like having a countdown clock above your desk, and slowing down to give yourself a pat on the back seems like a waste of time with the constant stream of emails, phone calls, and opportunities that fill your day-to-day. Overall, we seem to have forgotten to stop and smell those roses.
I have an overactive imagination and I began to picture getting wins that would result in raucous celebrations like you would see in Boiler Room or The Wolf of Wall Street. (Side note: I acknowledge that both movies are about being greedy and concern highly illegal activities that should in no way be emulated.) Even a less rousing celebration like having a group of coworkers running into my office to share a drink with me Mad Men style while I regale them with tales of how I closed that deal would suffice. But in real life, this doesn’t happen.
I wondered if it’s always been this way, so I went to someone who’s been in sales the majority of his adult life: my father. Throughout his career, I know he celebrated his wins. When we started discussing work culture, he said they worked as a team at his company, and the team celebrated the wins. The work week was for hard work, but the weekend was for those parties, sporting events, and going to clubs around town. The social events were about building the team up, and as a result, they truly won and lost together. The more we talked, the more I realized that my silver screen celebration fantasies were not that different from what it was like to be in sales in the 1970s and ’80s. Hollywood may have turned it up to 11, but these real-life parties were still around a four.
After reminiscing with my father, I started to bring it back around to modern times. How do we celebrate these wins and milestones now?
When I began my pro AV sales career, I distinctly remember closing my first install—it wasn’t a massive job, but it was my first. It was exciting and thrilling and I was so enthused that I went out and bought a nice bottle of whiskey and brought it back to the office. At the end of the day, I poured a glass for everyone as a thank you for being patient and helping me along the way. That was nearly four years ago now.
Since then, the pace has picked up. It’s easy to celebrate when you only have a few plates spinning, but once you start going full tilt boogie, you lose sight of the milestones. And I know I’m not the only one. We all do it. We get so focused on what we need to do or what our co-workers are working on that we don’t celebrate individually or as a team.
My particular successes have been in sales, but celebrations apply to all positions across the company. Everyone has career milestones, but are you making a big deal out of yours? Do you celebrate your achievements? Is there a goal in your life that you are striving to accomplish? When you cross that finish line, what are you going to do about it? Obviously, you know the answer ... you’re going to Disneyland!
Oh—you didn’t win the Super Bowl; you just passed your CTS-I. Well go to Starbucks and splurge on a venti latte. Find your own way to celebrate, even if it’s small. And maybe it’s not your milestone, maybe it’s a co-worker’s.
The next time a colleague hits that milestone or achieves a goal, make a big deal about it. We might not be good at celebrating ourselves, but we should celebrate our workfellows. Buy your programmer a box of their favorite candy. Take your fellow sales reps out for drinks after work. Take your project manager out to that really sketchy Mexican taco stand that they love, but don’t buy them the goat taco because you want them to be able to function later in the day. (Yes, this is an actual thing near our office.)
At the end of the day, I think we all need to get good at one thing. Take time to reflect on what you have done today. Stop what you’re doing after you read this and think about your day, your week, and your month. Look at what you have accomplished. Good job! Keep up the good work!
Don’t eat that goat taco, but enjoy a little bit of the bubbly.