I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville wife and mother with a passion for family travel, (mostly) healthy cooking, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries with you, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark.
August 3, 2016
We went to visit family in Georgia last week and while we were there, Dennis and I hit up my favorite outlet mall, a seemingly neverending stretch of discount stores from every-retailer-you-can-possibly-think-of, just north of Atlanta.
This particular trip was for Dennis, who was sorely in need of some ‘upscale casual’ (i.e., stylish) clothing now that he’s in the lunch meeting phase of what I am choosing to call an ‘unexpected career transition.’ We wandered into a few stores he liked and I watched as he tried on shirts and shoes. In each store, a series of young, politely disinterested employees greeted us by flatly reciting the store’s deals of the day and then asking us if we needed help in a please-please-don’t-ask-me-to-help kind of way. I didn’t think anything of it– It’s par for the course in these kinds of places, right?
After buying a few things Dennis liked, we decided to check out Johnston & Murphy before calling it a day. As soon as we walked in the door, our shopping experience radically changed– A friendly middle-aged man dressed head-to-toe in Johnston & Murphy gear introduced himself as Dan and offered us bottled waters. When he returned with the waters, he noted the number of button-down shirts Dennis had pulled from the rack to try on and very happily told us about the day’s shirt deal before going on to explain the differences in the fit of each style of shirt. Dan didn’t come off as giving us a hard sell– He actually seemed passionate about the brand, and that made all the difference.
Thirty minutes later, we had found and tried on three shirts for Dennis and a winter coat for me. As Dan rang up our purchases, he discovered that we were from Nashville and told us about a great outlet in our hometown owned by Johnston & Murphy’s parent company. He happily chatted about that store and its deals until we were as excited about the place as he was. We left with smiles on our faces, pleased with the great prices we’d found and the overall shopping experience. “Now I have a new brand I love,” Dennis said.
I realized as we walked to our car, though, that our satisfaction had more to do with Dan than with anything else– He was friendly and personable. He treated us like we were more than customers; to him, it seemed, we were real people with stories to tell. And while he was attentive, we never felt pressured to buy anything—It was clear Dan actually loved Johnston & Murphy. He believed in it, and so he was excited to tell others about it.
I’m sharing this story because I think there’s a great lesson in it, and it’s bigger than where to find great men’s shirts for less. If you want to find happiness and success in your career, choose a job that lets you ‘sell’ the thing you believe in. Whether it’s selling Johnston & Murphy clothing, researching cancer treatments or teaching kindergartners to read, every person I know who really excels in their job deeply believes in what he or she is ‘selling.’ I’m sure you can easily think of people you know who are like Dan– They come from all walks of life and the commitment and passion they bring to their job affects everyone they meet.
Now that Dennis is taking a break from working 50-60 hours a week, I have more room to pursue work projects I’ve kept on the backburner for the last few years, while Dennis has a chance to go in a lot of different directions. As we try to narrow down our options and figure out which opportunities will give us the best results, a good way to begin is to ask ourselves which of our possibilities will allow us to be a ‘Dan.’
It’s a question we can all ask ourselves when we come to a career crossroads, whether we’re graduating from college, considering a new job offer or just trying to figure out what to do next. Are you a Dan in your career? And if you’re not, what are you going to do about it?