Catching up: Finally out of the rat race

The biggest news is that I quit the job I had held for 2 1/2 years. Since June 2001 I had been working as a programmer/IT consultant for a clothing storage company in Earle, Arkansas. They were really nice people, but the 8-to-5 schedule was driving me nuts. I’m just not cut out to sit behind a desk 5 days a week, 51 weeks a year. I enjoy people too much, and I enjoy variety too much.

For a long time I was looking at Moneytecture, the financial software I co-developed, as my ticket out of the rat race. However, we’re finding that marketing an entirely new type of software is not an easy task. So we’ve been through some necessary missteps, and although I am seeing some royalty income trickle in, it’s hardly enough to make ends meet, and not enough to hire me as our company’s first employee.

So, around October I got to thinking…I enjoy meeting new people. I have a lot of teaching experience. I enjoy being on my own – I will gladly trade the “stability” of a job with benefits at a good company for the opportunity to set my own schedule. And, I’ve always thought people should be paid for performance, not for showing up to work at a specified time and sitting at a desk all day. One day the light bulb went off. Hey, how come I’ve never thought about doing SALES?

Suddenly I realized that I had always had a mental block against sales. When I heard the term “salesman,” I thought of someone like Herb Tarlek from WKRP, with slick talk and an ugly sport jacket, out to make a fast buck all the time. But that’s just a stereotype. The best salespeople, I’ve been told, have the hearts of teachers, and always have their customers’ best interests at heart.

So I began to scan the paper for sales jobs, and I looked on Many of the positions required experience. Some didn’t. I called the ones that didn’t, most of which were insurance companies. The people who answered the phone seemed like the slick, fast-talking salesmen that I have always found so revolting. I never bothered to follow up and set interviews. In one case, the guy on the phone was such an ass that I just hung up on him.

So, on November 18, my 34th birthday, I was sitting at work, depressed, wondering if I’d be sitting behind the same desk until age 65. I decided to give Monster a look. There was a sales position for “credit card merchant services.” Meaning, someone who contacts new businesses and sets them up to accept credit and debit cards, and who helps existing businesses get better rates on their credit card processing. And I knew the company was not a slick fly-by-night, because it was a subsidiary of iPayment, a company I recently owned in my IRA, a company with an excellent business model. Their low overhead allows them to offer lower rates than the big processors. And it said “no experience required,” so I applied and got the job.

Initially I planned to quit the Earle job in early December, but I noticed that the company had scheduled an all-you-can eat holiday dinner at Texas de Brazil on December 17, so I gave an extra week’s notice and made December 18 my last day. Hey, Mrs. Ryburn didn’t raise any stupid kids.

So I rode out my unused vacation time through the Christmas season, and started for the credit card company in early January. How’s it going so far? I’ll be making posts about that in the near future. Let’s just say that I’m not yet earning as much in commission as I was making in Earle, but the potential is there and I feel good about it. As I said, the company is great. They offer suggested sales scripts when I make calls, but they don’t require me to use them word-for-word; their instructions were “adapt them to your personality, and if you find something that works well, please share it with us.” My regional manager is great and I can go to him anytime for advice and help closing deals. In addition, in the past month I’ve found an excellent networking opportunity downtown which has made a huge difference – more on that later, it’s worthy of a journal entry all its own.

I’m starting to warm up to blogging. I’m sitting outside Empire Coffee with my laptop, happily typing away. It’s a warm Thursday night and I had planned to go hang out on the Peabody rooftop, but I’m feeling too mellow to deal with the see-and-be-seen scene. I’ll try to get one more entry done tonight, then go fire up the VCR and find out who was voted off Survivor tonight.