Guest Post: Sales Is A Four-Letter Word

This comes to us from a Riverside Green reader who would like to remain anonymous — JB

Oh, and no one ever really knows you
And life is brief
So I’ve heard, but what’s that gotta do with
This black hole in me?

I am an industrial salesman. I sell metal. My company is a “boutique” outlet for specialty alloys and steels, and heavily involved in aerospace and oil & gas. Because of our niche position in the market, it is embarrassingly lucrative. In the last four months of 2017, I brought home more money than my father ever received annually throughout his 43 years of blue collar labor. I was 27. Those four months were spent in an air-conditioned office, a luxury that Dad did not know until very late in his career. I am deeply ashamed of this, and do not know how to reconcile it with my previously held notions about success.

That’s not to say it’s easy – quite the contrary. At any point in the day, I’m juggling incoming quote requests, managing processing PO’s (things like heat-treating and machining), grooming export orders to ensure they aren’t shipped held up in customs, et cetera. Hours are long, and vacations are either nonexistent or frequently interrupted by the need to manage a hot order. Most of the actual “selling” happens in the form of cold-calling – browsing the internet to learn who makes what, and pinpointing who the high value targets are. Depending on where and when I’m calling, I’ll adopt multiple accents throughout the day. The Deep South appreciates a familiar drawl punctuated with small talk about SEC football and Trump praise, while the East Coast prefers you get to the damn point as quickly as possible. The Midwest prefers to be spoken to like polite children. There’s a theatrical element to it that I can’t help but appreciate.

The pay structure of my employer is simple: low base, 12% of profit. Here’s a phone, here’s a computer and an email address with a corporate suffix, and here’s several million dollars of inventory to sell. Go at it. There is very little managerial oversight, and they do not care what you say or do (or wear or smoke) if your numbers look good. We can chase any market we want, price our inventory at whatever margin we see fit, and each salesperson generally conducts himself as his own small business. Friedman would have loved it.

The majority of the sales team did not attend college. They are all conservative white males and most drive half-ton trucks or SUV’s. Five have multiple DUI strikes and still drink tallboys on the drive home. The top salesmen in my office regularly make $200,000 – 250,000 a year when the market’s humming, and maybe 10-20% less than that if we’re in a slump. Turnover is incredibly low for a sales office; most of the staff has been there for a decade or more, and the atmosphere is devoid of the hypercompetitive venom that permeates places like car dealerships or recruitment firms. Not a single salesperson brought home less than a hundred Gs last year. These men are vulgar and uncouth, but I like them and I respect the hustle.

Six years ago, I obtained a political science degree at a well-regarded state university because it seemed to be as good of an option as anything else. The hard sciences were off the table; my math skills were lacking because of a regrettable decision to cheat in every math course from 8th grade to college-concurrent AP. It was a joke of a degree, and I learned nothing. Graduation happened on time (and with pretty good grades). I started a company with a buddy, lost all my money, and resigned myself to meager office gigs – it seems that hiring managers are skeptical of two year gaps containing nothing but self-employment. I found my current gig, and my life changed dramatically. $25k in credit card debt disappeared in 8 months. I now own fast motorcycles and nice watches and Ohlins shocks. I do not fear the first of the month.

With all that said, it takes more than cash to silence a screaming inferiority complex. I am miserable with, and embarrassed by, who I am. One side of my family is comprised of nothing but doctors and lawyers, and I’m phobically terrified of discussing my low-brow career at family gatherings. The other side is made up of hard-working mechanics and small businessmen, and despite efforts to hide my good fortune, their resentment is palpable. In terms of mental acuity, the past two years of my life have been like a prolonged excerpt from the final chapters of Flowers for Algernon. My college friends have pursued advanced degrees in fields like politics and law. Discussions in our group chat have veered towards topics that require me to frantically search Wikipedia just to keep up with the concepts. I can feel my wit and tact slipping away.

Yet all of these things are intangible, while the money in my checking account is real. The numbers don’t make sense for going back to school – even enrolling in one of the bullshit “coding farms” doesn’t offer an ROI that would make it worth a career change. A full-time effort like law school would redeem me in the eyes of my family, but it’s off the table; it would require a massive investment of both cash and lost earning potential that would never be recovered in the oversaturated legal services market. Any further education beyond what I have now would be a fool’s errand, financially. The so-called “golden handcuffs” are a real thing.

I am aware that the paragraphs I’ve written here could be linked as Google’s I’m Feeling Lucky result for “narcissistic millennial entitlement search query.” I am aware that I’m incredibly fortunate that my biggest problem is “makes too much money to be a lawyer.” Nevertheless, I can’t stand to look at myself in the mirror in the morning, and I need to do something about it. The clock’s ticking, and as they say: if you don’t do something great by 30, you probably never will. So what say you, Readers? Should I come to terms with what I am, or should I burn it all to chase an ever-receding horizon?

89 Replies to “Guest Post: Sales Is A Four-Letter Word”

  1. Robert Harris

    Thanks for sharing this.

    Whose approval are you seeking, your own or your family’s? Either way, approval won’t pay the bills. If you think that you have cheated the system somehow by finding a good paying job that your skills and personality are a match for, I think you’re being too hard on yourself. And if you really are cheating, well, that probably won’t go on forever, so maybe save enough cash to pay for that degree as a plan b.

  2. Brian

    There’s nothing shameful in what you do, but if you don’t like it, find something else.

    Relationship and business development skills are in demand in just about every ‘profession,’ especially with a proven track record to get you in the door. I currently work for a professional services firm, and our best compensated colleagues are those that discover, maintain, and ‘farm’ client relationships. Doing the IT, business, etc., consulting work technically makes the $, but it’s still a game of people.

    The trick is finding a company with a culture that doesn’t burn you to the ground.

    Want to really do something different? Personally I think IT (programming, systems, support, management) is still the best way to have a lucrative career without having to do multiple year$ of post-grad schooling, but you’ll have years of learning to do, and a less lucrative salary during that time. Combine tech skills with communication and relationship skills though, and you’ll really set yourself apart.

  3. Frank Galvin

    You’re not a narcissistic millennial. You’re one of the lucky ones who found the golden niche. Nothing to apologize for.

    I was 27 when I made the decision to leave construction and go to law school. It was the right decision for me. Loved the physical work, but did not understand how to run it as a business. Graduating in 2008 was no picnic, and I did not see better employment until 2014. Now, yeah, I’m in a good chunk of debt – but 13 years on, I’m married, two great kids, and see a career trajectory unfolding.

    Patience is hard at 27, there is that voice that says to pull the trigger. But you have a talent that the majority do not possess. You’ve figured out a way to sell. That’s huge and that need is not going away. Take that and move all over the country – or stay at home. Take your time with this – and think about taking a few certificate courses at a local Univ / College for things you may have an interest in.

    As for the lawyers in your family – I’m sure quite a few are quite miserable with their working conditions, despite possible good pay. The resentful ones – what does it matter? Are they going to like you more if you’re wearing the suit and tie? Sitting in an office park coding?

    Nourish what you have – approach this slowly. Spend your money on things that interest you.

  4. link3721

    If you’re enjoying what you’re doing, keep doing it. That’s the only reason I’d look at changing careers. As far as feeling like you need to do something with yourself, is there something philanthropic you feel strongly about that you could donate time and/or money to as a way to feed that feeling?

  5. Opaddington

    When you’re young, other people’s opinions are of grave importance to you and that’s not limited to just your family and close friends. In my college days, I was absolutely certain that I had to earn an advanced degree in a STEM field. I believed this because I didn’t want to be an average schmo and, just as importantly, I wanted people to think that I was remarkable. Family, friends, strangers walking down the street, all of them had to hold me in high regard.

    There was one minor problem with my grand plan: I hated school. I was already burned out after high school and the thought of another 6-8 years of sitting in classrooms made me nauseous. The grand plan imploded and I decided to do whatever it took to make ends meet and pursue any opportunities I could find.

    I’m 44 now and I’m well within the vaunted 9.9%. I can count in single digits the number of people whose view of me is something that causes me concern. Everyone else can shove it. I don’t care what they think in the slightest. You’ll feel the same way when you get older. Keep making bank and enjoying the fruits of your labor.

  6. hank chinaski

    Nice piece and welcome.
    Make hay while the sun is shining. The EPA could say that your product is killing owls or babies and shut down the party or the Chinese could offer it for half. Degrees are a tool to procure a livelihood, nothing more. Until the point that you are supporting children, you need no one’s approval. You’ve found something lucrative that your’e good at, and like *and* respect your co-workers? Jackpot.
    I’d want more real time off. No interruptions.

  7. Baconator

    I’ve got a couple of graduate degrees (one very fancy) and have had a number of conventionally prestigious job titles, so I can speak with some experience here: Hustle is the only real skill there is. Jobs are for making money. It sounds like you’re *good* at what you do. Never stop doing something you’re good at to chase some bullshit that you think will please your family.

    Anyone who wants to sell you a bill of goods about “following your passion” or “intellectual stimulation” or whatever is just part of an elaborate social construct meant to make you work for less money than you’re making for somebody else.

    As doctors and lawyers (and even college professors) get further in their career they realize that they are just running a business. And all business, ultimately, is sales. Their technical skill gets them only so far; hustle is what gets them to the top. Sales is an actual technical skill. Not everyone has it, and those that *do* have it are the difference between a “project” and a “business.”

    Successful businessmen *never* look down on blue-collar wealth, because wealth is wealth. As they say in the rap game, “real recognize real.”

    • Byron

      This. I am a lawyer and a couple of my best clients are guys that have taken a few business classes at the community college, started small construction outfits and ultimately ended up up as commercial contractors and real estate developers. I see these guys finances. Trust me, there is no looking down on them. More like respect and envy.

      • Disinterested-Observer

        On this note, I think Yusef Islam said it best:

        You’re still young
        That’s your fault
        There’s so much you have to go through

      • Nick D

        You are so right about that. The wealthiest guy in my town completed high school and the GE tool and die apprentice school. Didn’t stop him from being a great businessman, and more importantly, great person who did a tremendous amount for his community.

    • yamahog

      > Sales is an actual technical skill.

      I don’t dispute that it’s a skill, but it’s not technical. A technical skill involves the application/interpretation/interpolation of natural or mathematical sciences. A technical skill is welding – you have to understand some metallurgy and chemistry to do non-rote welding effectively.

  8. Brawnychicken

    Sales is NOT a 4 letter word. The best product-whether it’s a physical product or an intangible service, doesn’t mean a damn thing until someone sells it. Sales people are the lubricant for the entire economy. Nothing to be ashamed of.

    It does attract a hard living crowd for sure-and those guys (and it’s almost always guys) are a necessary and entertaining part of society. It’s the highs and lows-it’s kind of like living in a casino-and that attracts that group.

    You’re also smarter than you think-connecting to people across the country and figuring out what they need and want is a skill. It takes brains, talent, and practice to develop and master. A lot of very smart people cannot do it to save their lives. My wife is a lawyer. She’s certainly smarter than me-but I can connect with people and uncover their needs and wants-she cannot.

    • Nick D

      Agree 100%. If you do go to law school and work in ‘big law’ for the ‘big’ bucks, get ready to debase yourself in far worse ways than adopting an accent to close a sale.

  9. Ken

    Haven’t even finished, but just to comment. You had me at: “The Deep South appreciates a familiar drawl punctuated with small talk about SEC football and Trump praise, while the East Coast prefers you get to the damn point as quickly as possible. The Midwest prefers to be spoken to like polite children.”

    Spot on.

    • Ken

      LOL, ok finished.

      Couple things here:

      1. If you really enjoy the basics of what you do (selling) then continue, regardless of how others perceive you.
      2. Save, live smart and learn. In case the good times end.

      The ability to “sell” is transferable. I happen to be good with people as well, a skill that’s valuable in many professions. Though I’m good at it, I find it draining and I too have a hard time reconciling my salary against my work. I made a mild career shift where relationship management went from being a part of my job to my job entirely.

      Though not pure sales, I underwrite a “niche” insurance product. The hours are long, the vacations too are non-existent, but the pay is good. I am an engineer by education with a career that took me through various IT operations and project roles. Ultimately the two combined to land me where I am today.

      If you can handle the grind (I’m assuming you are single or at least w/o children) sales & customer service could be great for you. I’ve found it’s only gotten harder to balance my personal time w/family against the demands of my company and my book of business. I’ve also come to terms that I’m not transaction oriented (making an account, losing an account doesn’t seem to fire me up as much as my co-workers). I’m most happy when I’m working on a project or towards a large goal.

      It takes a certain type of person to enjoy and thrive in that grind. Though it may feel your skills aren’t as mature or valued as those of lawyers, or that you aren’t making anything (I know because I feel the same way) – its important to point out that what you do is valuable to your company and the skills that you have are valuable to your career and are transferable.

      Whether you decide to fully take the plunge and be a salesman or apply those skills to augment another profession is entirely on whether you have the personality for the grind and all it entails.

  10. ScottS

    “if you don’t do something great by 30, you probably never will”

    The first thing to do is stop reading bullshit like this and believing it. One of my most successful friends launched a business at 45 starting with pretty much nothing and is now turning over $50M revenue annually with a gross margin of ~21% and net of costs and taxes 11%. Do the math.

    It sounds like Dan needs a plan. You’re working a lot and making a very good income, but lack fulfillment. Hopefully, lack of fulfillment doesn’t have roots in lack of ambition. Looking at the business you are working in, I would be focusing on gaining a complete understanding of that business and particularly the purchasing/supply side. It sounds like a specialized knowledge business and you are gaining the most critical resource for launching your own business. A successful entrepreneur apologizes to none.

    • Eric H

      Never worry about doing something great, worry about doing something well.

      If you’re selling a good product and not cheating, swindling, or stealing from your customers why on earth should you feel bad about what you’re doing?

  11. Sumatraguy

    As Opaddington commented “at 27 people’s perception of you is important “, however over time that will change. Let this time in your life be an opportunity to really build a great financial base and then in s few years revisit your needs, goals, and priorities. There’s nothing wrong with an honest days work. As far as comparing yourself to other people’s perceived trajectory, practice the ongoing art of letting that go. You’ll always wind up on the short side of that stick (personal experience talking here). At the end of the day you gotta be ok with being you and part of becoming a man is being ok with not setting the world on fire.

  12. Guest

    Writer here. Thanks for the insight, all. Good points about how success can be fleeting and is dictated by forces outside the average citizen’s control.

    Being pointman for the phalanx of capitalism is not an easy task by any means, and I agree that it takes a special talent to connect the dots between a product and a customer.

    I suppose some of this is survivor’s guilt, of sorts. I know people significantly more learned than yours truly who literally make a third what I do. Hard workers, talented craftsmen, skilled writers, all making less annually than my Q1 take home. These are all skills that I personally value much higher than the ability to talk my way into a purchasing agreement, but the market chooses where the rewards go.

    After some thought on this, I probably shouldn’t look this gift horse in the mouth.

  13. Matt

    I agree with Robert that you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself. Maybe try joining the Army reserves (I’m being serious.) It would let you get some different life experience without having to completely blow up a six figure career. Also shooting machine guns is hella fun.

  14. TJ

    I understand you so very well. I’m just a couple years older, and have been in the sales game a long time. I’ve sold a lot of products, both b2b and b2c. I’ve found my niche in a retail setting. It’s a good gig. I don’t make quite what you do, but my wife and I are comfortable.

    The struggle is real though. It’s a battle to stay upbeat and keep selling. Good Luck!

  15. J Edwards

    Seems to me that the only problem you have with your job, is the perception that others in your life have of it. I am not the first, nor will I be the last, to point out that their perception doesn’t pay your bills. The overall contribution that their view of your life has to your actual life, exists only within your head, there isn’t anything tangible about it.

    My perspective is skewed with jealousy and personal feelings of disappointment and inadequacy, but it still might be of some value. I was blessed with a personal tool box full of tools, but born into a narcissistic family that provided me with zero idea on how to use them once I was unleashed upon the real world. Because of that, I bounced from job to job where I was successful, but unfulfilled. I now find myself working for my wife’s family where my primary value to them lies in my ability to handle the jobs of multiple people on my own, while being grossly undercompensated for my efforts. The industry we are in is dying, and I’m totally stuck. I had hoped that the respect they would give me for a job well done, for doing them such a service, making them money, helping the family etc. would give me the fulfillment that I had lacked previously, but it doesn’t; all that’s left now is resentment.

    I left a job I felt ashamed to have in order to take this one. I ran an eBay store and handled online sales for a family owned wheel and tire business in the town I grew up in. It wasn’t flashy, I couldn’t brag about it to my friends or family, I didn’t have a fancy title or deal with high-brow products or services. I spent half my time working behind a counter selling tires, and I thought I could do better. What I didn’t realize at the time, was that I was actually happy. I had a great schedule, I worked with cool people, made good money, and was respected by everyone except myself. I didn’t see what I had until it was too late.

    Your life is yours, and yours alone. Tell your friends and your family you like your job, tell them it’s challenging every day, requires you to think on your feet, and that you like being good at it. If they can’t be proud of you for finding your own success and happiness, then they don’t deserve to have their opinions matter to you in the first place.

  16. Opaddington

    Don’t overlook your youth. You have energy and exuberance now that will fade with time. Take advantage of it while you can. Despite what I tell my wife, I don’t have the stamina that I did in my 20’s.

    I still rock her like a hurricane, though.

  17. Patrick

    In my adult life, I have worked as an office clerk, truck driver and chef after drifting in and out of university (no degree) and have been proud of all these jobs. I never let anyone put me down because I was working a blue collar job. Neither should you. As a previous poster said tell family and friends you enjoy your job and do it well (and mentally say F*** Off). Save aggressively because that gives you freedom, insulates you against bad times and opens up opportunities.

    By the way, I seized an opportunity at age 46 and went to law school.

  18. Ronnie Schreiber

    Find a good woman, marry her, have children, work hard, support your family.

    One of the nicest things anybody ever said to me was when a friend said, “You talk about your hobbies, politics, the non-profit you volunteer for, all sorts of stuff, but you never talk about your job.”

    “That’s just what I do to make money.”

    • Rick T.

      Exactly so. A job for me is just the gas the makes the car go. I gave up a corner office financial career track in exchange for a consulting career that, while still a good living, is not what I could have earned. However, a job where I knew what I would be doing the second Tuesday after close for the rest of my working life was not a trade off I was will to make.

    • ComfortablyNumb

      +1, as the kids say.

      Job satisfaction is great, but not necessary. You have a vocation to something else. Maybe it’s a wife and kids, or mentoring inner city teens, or who knows what else. But that’s the thing that will make you truly happy. Even the best job is just a necessary evil. You need to figure out what you were meant to do.

    • hank chinaski

      Dismaying that it took 20 posts for someone to mention wife and family, the default for men for well, forever. I purposely didn’t at the risk of sounding trite or parochial, but agree with you.

      Given the responses of the obviously seasoned men here, many who have either been divorced themselves or know someone who has, it’s no surprise. The Tinderellas and strong independent career womyn that the OP is probably meeting don’t help.

      • Ryan

        You’re not wrong. The women that I meet (attract?) primarily fall into three categories:

        1) What you described above. Age ~24-30. It’s virtually impossible to have a conversation that doesn’t involve politics, pop culture, or something related to social media. These girls say that they want to settle down, but it’s “impossible” to find a guy who is “serious.” Newsflash: your personality is why I gave you a Google Voicd number and ghosted you.

        2) Divorcee and/or single mother. Prior life choices resulted in a girl who had to “settle” career-wise. We will disagree about my independence, spending habits, or hobbies. Sorry, I can’t flip a switch and go from how I am now to a white picket fence and Sundays with your mother. Will still call me occasionally in an attempt to reconnect, or get her sisters to strike up a conversation with me.

        3) College-aged girls. Normally, they’re just happy to be with someone better than Steve from the Pike house and willing to put up with my shit. As I approach 30, we’ll see how much longer I can ride this gravy train for.

        Everyone else either is starting a family, or the rare unicorn professional woman who still holds traditional family values. So far, I’m 0/2 with the latter.


        • tresmonos

          All three categories aren’t a bad thing. I was engaged to a single mother who had 50% custody of her kid. She was a smoke show and had an aspiring career as a shrink (made good money). Just wasn’t compatible personality wise. Her kid was the hardest part about breaking up with her as I miss her daughter more than her.

          I’ve continually dated the first category. You just have to disengage from the dating scene and re-engage every once in a while. It keeps it light and interesting.

          However… if you’re handing out fake numbers and ghosting, I’d say the problem lies within. Or you need to increase your sample size and follow the on-off routine. God I hate ghosting. Why people would prefer to not directly communicate and hide behind anonymity is something I’ll never understand. I live in too small of a big city and am way too social to be constantly turning my head to people I’ve done wrong when I’m out and about.

          • Ryan

            I’ve dated a few women with children. One of which, I even came close to marrying. The child is never really a problem in this instance (I actually enjoy children, FWIW).

            While the compassion and caring of such a women is generally a good thing, I have no desire to be “mothered.” Many of my friends do, and some of them managed to find women that can accommodate those needs. I wouldn’t expect someone to change this behavior for me just as I would not change who I am for someone else.

            As for the rest, I have no room to complain. I go out when I want to go out, and stay in when I want to stay in. No matter how big of a personality clash there might be, two adults can normally get along for 12 hours on physical attraction alone. If OP is looking for fulfillment via romantic means, that’s a completely different thing.

            Ghosting sucks, but we all do it. I don’t give out my phone number out to anyone I know personally, and I sure as hell won’t do it for some girl off of Tinder/Bumble. At that stage, it is not much different than communicating with a Craigslist buyer. My Google Voice number is no less real than my actual cell number, but affords me the option to mute/screen callers when it’s warranted. The sad truth is that in 2018, you can never be too careful with your personal information. It’s for this reason that my social media activity is limited to posting pictures of cars, professional networking, or occasionally calling out brands for being full of shit.

            Regardless of communication medium, conversations always get stale and other aspects of life take precedent. Perhaps “slow fade” might be a better descriptor, but I’m certainly guilty of purposely not responding to calls/texts. Everyone does it to some extent, and it’s a direct result of our current “digital” culture. The abundance of choice brought via dating apps has made finding at least a short-term mate no different than ordering something via Amazon Prime. A decent guy (or almost any woman) could stack up a date for every night of the week if he/she had the time, all with little in the way of emotional investment and enough novelty to keep things interesting for a long time.

          • tresmonos

            You speak the truth. The convenience has certainly changed the way people interface.

            I still try to be very intentional. I’ve garnered a few really good friendships and a stalker due to it. I’ll take the good with the bad.

  19. Dirty Dingus McGee

    The only person your employment should matter to is you. If you’re good at, and enjoy, what you do, that should be the main consideration. Making bank is a major plus though. That gives you the freedom to explore other options somewhere down the road.

  20. VTNoah

    . I would say if you’re not getting satisfaction with the work, there are things you can do outside of work where you can “give back”. Volunteer to coach a little league team, be a scout leader, volunteer at the boys and girls club, etc… That’s where you can get some of that self worth back and make a difference in people’s lives for the better.

    • DayHiker

      All excellent suggestions. I had similar feelings to the OP and a friend suggested our local all volunteer fire department. Not all departments are equal and small town politics can ruin things, but for me, being a part of the community and the people I’ve met has given me a great sense of purpose. The physical labor, teamwork and experiences has made me feel alive in ways I had been missing.

  21. Crancast

    Dear Guest,

    Since all of the other comments are so thoughtful and nice …

    It is a FUCKING JOB. You are good at and make a great wage at said FUCKING JOB. This FUCKING JOB can literally set you up for your lifetime if managed responsibly. However, The FUCKING JOB does not have to define you, it is after all just a FUCKING JOB. I could go on, you get the point. I sincerely hope my kids have this ‘problem’ some day.

    Now as for the insecurity bit, at least you are not an ego maniac. But you will not get any answers to the deeper driving forces behind your insecurity in a blog post with blog comment counselors – go find a real one.

    Good luck to you.

  22. Spud Boy

    In this internet age, you can educate yourself in your spare time to your heart’s content, and impress your relatives with arcane knowledge of literally any topic you can think of.

    • DirtRoads

      Hmmmm, not to be argumentative, but the internet is only information, not knowledge. And knowledge is not wisdom.

      That said, if you want to be shallow at parties, get google information in your head and be able to talk about something of which you truly know nothing, and don’t let anyone question you further than the depth of a parking lot puddle.

  23. Compaq Deskpro

    I’m on the otherside of this, I make 40K in an entry level IT job, and my family thinks I’m a genius. My family has no degrees, and is for the most part blue collar. I also fucked off on math from the second I stepped into kindergarten so I’m undegreeable.

  24. Nick D

    “If a person gave your body to any stranger he met on his way, you would certainly be angry. And do you feel no shame in handing over your own mind to be confused and mystified by anyone who happens to verbally attack you?”

    This quote is a few thousand years old and something I struggled mightily to accept.

    I’m a lawyer as well and wouldn’t recommend it. Unless you go to a good school and do extremely well, you won’t be landing a $160k starting salary job (which would be a downgrade already). I worked for a ‘prefstigus’ firm, for a big fancy company, and think I found my place with a family owned company making nothing fancy in a rural town.

    I didn’t like who I was or what I was doing at prior jobs and it took an immense personal toll on me and my family.

    What really matters is if you’re a good person, whether you’re cleaning toilets or performing neurosurgery. Some of the happiest, most well adjusted people I know are greasy tradesmen that intuitively understand there’s more to life than titles.

    It sounds like you’ve got a great job with people who are actually smart (cf acing test smart). Let half your family underestimate you. It is their problem.

  25. DirtRoads

    I have a college degree and work in a rewarding, if not hugely profitable sector. I’ve been in this business for 40 years. I don’t make big bank, and didn’t at age 27, but I wish I had. Others have said save a nest egg, as bug as you can afford, and enjoy the ride. Later you may find your passion is truly in something else. I love what I do, and although all jobs have their tedium, when you love what you do, it’s not really work.

    It sounds like you love what you do. Screw the family, unless they want to start paying all your bills for you. If I had a trust fund, I’d blow it all on fast cars and airplanes.

  26. 98horn

    Went the law school route. Sucks Sucks Sucks. And I have a really, really good job. Drive a 911, big house in the burbs, ect. I don’t tell anyone I meet I’m a lawyer because everyone hates lawyers. You are making bank at where you work and thats what’s important. Save every penny you can, invest wisely, and make a fortune. Retire young, and live the life every wage slave dreams about: independently wealthy. Everything else (doctor, lawyer, investment wanker) is all workaday bullshit.

  27. Rick

    Well written O.P. and all good commentary/suggestions. I reiterate the suggestions to continue to enjoy what you do, build your nest egg, and get your self esteem through giving back (philanthropy or service). Perhaps you can tutor sales skills to the disadvantaged. When you’ve accumulated enough wealth, you can disregard the “golden handshake” and pursue your interests.

  28. Bona Fide

    “I am deeply ashamed of this, and do not know how to reconcile it with my previously held notions about success.”

    It took me all of 10 seconds to come up with “donate your unwanted money to those blue-collared men of which you speak”.

    I too think you should see a counselor, shrink, or whatever they’re called.

  29. Feds

    One thing missing. Read “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”. You didn’t say where you are, but if you’re not in a major centre, invest the big bank you’re making in real estate. Rental properties, Storage buildings, etc. Become a small business so you can minimize taxes. Focus on building passive income and leveraging properties to build your portfolio.

    My wife and graduated in 2003, and have never had a family income below 100k. However, we were wage slaves for the first 10-12 years, so what we were actually earning was not great. Now we’re business owners, “making” about half of our peak income, and taking home about 20% more.

  30. John

    So many good things to say here. You are actually in a GOOD position relative to many of the other family members so use that to build for a future where you will continue o use he words “fun” or “contribution” to describe your day/week/month/year. As someone advised: “Save!” By itself, even starting at 27, and riding through some rough times ahead, your compounded nestegg will make you and many around you “happy.”

    Sales is actually a five-letter word, and when done well it enables our society for function. My grandpa always said “If a truck brought it, a salesman sold it.”

    He also advised this: “The secret to a good and satisfying life is just three ‘little’ things: Save a little, Spend a little, Give a little.”

    You might take just a little of your spare time, and give a little (more). That could be through your local car club (to use those ‘Ohlins shocks’), or any of some many organizations that need a little boost of time and energy (and the ‘hustle’) you demonstrate. “Contribute” of yourself and the appreciation and meaning in your life will multiply in ways you can’ imagine. You will ‘feel’ good about yourself then too!

    An then someone else said not to compare yourself to those other family members. In the end, we all put our pants on in a similar way, so make a life plan you can build on with the base you already have. Heck, attorneys are going to be replaced by AI websites, one reason why it is so stressful inside that industry for your relatives right now.

    Your description proves you know the importance of relationships; it really isn’t just the “A, B, C” from the image attached to your story here. There is skill, knowledge, and empathy required, as well as hustle.

    So,… Smile, be Happy, Sell!

  31. Thomas Kreutzer

    There is much goodness in the many comments above. I hope you have paid attention. I’d like to add a few things I have taken away from my own reading of your article and I hope considering them might help you. I’ll be frank.

    First, I sense you have a real “money vs prestige” issue. You make great money but aren’t using your education or living up to your fullest potential. Additionally, although you like and respect the hustle of the people with whom you work, your writing indicates that you also look down on them for being non-college educated, 1/2 ton pickup driving, DWI getting high-ball drinkers. This leaves you personally unsatisfied with your station in life and surrounded by people you like but don’t respect. You feel the whole enterprise is beneath you and that is driving your unhappiness.

    Second, your writing leads me to believe that, other than the people in the Northeast who don’t have time for your bullshit, you don’t respect your customers either. You do whatever it takes to get your foot in the door and make the sale, but it is all a shallow game to you. You banter and affect a down-home attitude that makes them think you are right around the corner, but in your heart-of-hearts you really don’t care about them or their needs. You feel like a shill and, frankly, that’s they way you are acting.

    I could go on, but here is the rub. You have a shitty, “I’m better than this” attitude. And, I can tell you from personal experience that, if you don’t get it in check, it will ruin you.

    You have two likely futures. You can jump ship and start a new endeavor that will, hopefully, get you to a place where you feel like you are living up to your full potential. Doing that will cost everything you currently have – an easy job that you are good at and mountains of cash – and there is no guarantee that you will ever be able to climb your way back up the the level from which you are jumping. It would be a leap into an uncertain future and, chances are, the place you land could end up being as deeply unsatisfying as the one you are in. Think long and hard before you jump.

    The other future is that you could check your attitude and jump fully into the pool. Keep doing what you do so well, embrace your job and the people with whom you work, and live for the day. Have fun while you bank that fat cash and one day, hopefully, someone or something will come along that will make all that worthwhile. Once your focus in life turns away from work, life gets a lot better.

    There is also a third way, but it requires effort and discipline. Stay where you are but set the highest standards. Live by a strict code of ethics. Be the best you can be at your job. Care about your customers, serve their needs and build real-life relationships. Put away the gamesmanship and the hard-sell and really engage with others. Do what is right for your company and your customers and you will earn the respect of both.

    That’s being a professional and that’s what I think you are missing. It really is the only way to have your cake and eat it too. A hard reset, selling our or something in between. I’ve always found the middle road will get you the farthest.

    • Tyler

      Reminds me, I haven’t seen Boiler Room in a while.

      Guest, I have friends from law school who got paid well in their prior lives but wanted the Esq. lifestyle upgrade and respect. A few of them – very few – achieved it. Others missed the cash and crawled back to their old gigs.

      I’d recommend Cal Newport’s “So Good They Can’t Ignore You.” I don’t agree with all of it, but it might help you find some focus.

      Be warned that all employers will unapologetically strip-mine your richest vein of ability whether it’s on the job description or not. I’ve had a half-dozen titles in as many years and they all ended up meaning “technical writer” because that’s what I’m good at. Sounds like you can sell. Be prepared to sell.

      Now please stop sending me emails with the subject line, “Re: Did you get my message? Action required…” I do not have ten minutes tomorrow morning to think through how we can partner on solutions.

    • Guest

      I appreciate the well-structured response.

      What you’ve gathered about my feelings towards my colleagues is not entirely off-base, but for reasons other than those listed. I don’t consider them beneath me, but the pointed characterization I’ve offered in the text (specifically the DWI issue) was included to show a discrepancy in personal values. I believe that any DWI incident beyond your first (granting benefit of doubt) is a sign of either alcohol dependency or outright stupidity & disregard for public safety. Nursing a Busch tallboy on the Interstate is objectively dumb when you have two strikes to your name. My city consistently tops the rankings of drunk driving fatalities, and I can list a half-dozen friends and acquaintances who have been killed or harmed by a drunk driver. A person’s education or choice in vehicles is determined more by the hand that life has dealt you, and I hold no ill will towards them for these factors. While they aren’t guys that I hang out with on the weekends, I respect these men immensely from a professional standpoint.

      I do not consider adjusting my tone to accommodate the predilections of a particular region as a sign of disrespect, nor do I hold any disdain towards my customers. I deal with machinists and material scientists that design and fabricate critical components for spaceships and extreme subsea environments. My attempts to adapt to a particular buyer’s interests are an effort towards building the foundational relationships of supplier/customer interaction. I have to understand the both my product and the customer’s application, a task that’s much easier if I’m communicating in the manner in which they prefer. If I spoke to the materials department of the Stennis Space Center in the same way that I talk to the Yankees up north, THAT would be considered disrespect. The best part of this job (outside of the commission checks) is being part of the creation of incredible machines and interacting with the people that make them.

      The rest of your suggestions are exactly the type of advice I was hoping for from this post, and I really appreciate that you took the time to write them. However, I must object to your appraisal of my personal demeanor towards the people I interact with on a daily basis, though I have a hunch this is a failure of my writing rather than a misinterpretation on your part. I definitely see how I could come off as a GlenGarry/Glen Ross hardseller based on the text.

      • Kevin Jaeger

        First, I have to say this is a fantastic question and I thank you for writing it and Jack for posting it.

        Our modern society has a very odd hierarchy of social status that only partially overlaps with income. A freelance writer that mostly starves can claim to be an intellectual, while a skilled roofer or plumber can earn a six-finger income while still being considered low class by our so-called betters. When you’re young this social sorting can sting and I don’t want to belittle how important this can be. You do end up dealing with the professional classes and they will inevitably look down on what they consider their social inferiors, even if they’re just taking up space in a do-nothing non-profit entity like a Nature Conservancy or something like that. That is indeed a fact of life.

        But what they think of you doesn’t have to affect what you think of yourself. You’ve found a niche you’re good at and don’t let anyone tell you sales isn’t a valuable skill. If there were a better/cheaper way of selling their product believe me the company would be doing it, so don’t think you aren’t genuinely earning your 12%.

        Maybe this position at this company won’t last forever but you’ve clearly developed some valuable skills and that can be transferred to other industries. IT sales people, for example, often earn significantly more than what you’re talking about and their job isn’t that different – they need to learn how to match up a fairly specialized product to a customer with a relatively complex requirement. Not everyone can do that but the people who can certainly earn their money even if respect or social standing may not follow.

        Good luck.

      • Bona Fide

        You wrote an entire paragraph justifying using multiple fake accents. Do some deep introspection there—with a shrink.

      • Thomas Kreutzer

        Thanks for the direct response. I jumped to a lot of conclusions that may have been off base, but I’m glad you were able to find some value there. That’s one of the issues with writers and readers, you write one thing, we read another.

        I took the first option, by the way. I gave up a good career because I thought something else would be better for me. Let me tell you, I spent a decade just scraping by and I still think it was a minor miracle that I was able to latch onto something that turned out to be an express elevator to a better place. I will say, though, there were a lot of years I cursed myself for giving up what I had and, today, despite the fact that I earn much more money and work in a nicer environment, I still miss what I was doing.

        I think the job you describe sounds like a real challenge and I think you can really make it into whatever you want. With your experience, education and outlook, you could become one of the pillars that holds the place up. There is a lot of pride to be had in that.

      • Mark

        Hopefully your never leading a conference call with both the Yanks and the Good ‘Ole Boys, the Mid-Westeners will probably be too polite to comment about your accent change.

    • rambo furum

      Beat me to it. It took me a day or so after reading to realize that, possibly like many people, he merely saw work as a paycheck and status, and not a purpose in life. I’m a bit of a slacker, and can be snarky, but ultimately I am very glad to have a point to my existence where I help others and improve the world in some small way.

      I will note that I see this contrast in the writings of the Baruth brothers. One will occasionally refer to how he provides great assistance to his employer or customer while I only see mentions of status and income from the other.

    • tresmonos

      Thomas, I really needed to read this. Thank you.

      We all lose perspective sometimes. I’ve been complaining about a job to peers who gladly do or would do the same job and just realized it.

    • Mark

      Kreutzer is at least as astute as me, and a far better writer. I am a career salesperson with a technical degree, and was still scrolling to hopefully find a values driven answer to endorse.

      This is it.

      Now I can avoid investing the time to write a poorer version of this more articulate, and similarly-minded answer to help prevent you from making a career mistake.

      What you are looking for will not come from an advanced degree, vocation change, or others’ respect. You need only to satisfy one critic, the one within who knows the real score, and seems unsatisfied. If more is required of you, do more. For yourself, your company, your co-workers, your family and your inner critic. Good luck “coming to terms with what you are”. We are all on the journey.

  32. Dan

    1. Learn while you earn – look into online or correspondence courses to keep up to date. Choose courses that will have real life value.
    2. Save hard – you never know when the party will end. Regularly put a certain amount aside somewhere you can’t easily get at it.
    3. Work to live, dont live to work. There are very few occupations that are fulfilling AND profitable.
    4. Do things for others and get involved in a cause you care about outside work.

  33. Bigtruckseriesreview

    We live in a time where 30 year old millennials have to be evicted from their parent’s basements.

    We live in a time where student loan debt was ALLOWED to accumulate in accounts for underachievers attending party schools.

    We live in a time when a 30 year fixed mortgage, is unnattainable by most because either their job doesn’t pay enough, they are unmarried and can’t afford the mortgage solo or because the area they want to live in safety is completely unnafordable.

    This is HELL for many young people.

    People younger than me who woke up to an economy that threw them under the bus back in the 80’s.

    The constant shootings and suicides don’t surprise me. I expect more of them now.

    All I can do is survive it all.

    If that means being a clown on Youtube to keep the checks coming in – so be it.

    • Greg Hamilton

      You’re not a clown. I still remember when you commented that the Chrysler 200 was too small. You were 100 percent correct way before others realized it.

  34. JustPassinThru

    This sounds like my story – right to the cheating on math in high school, on to the PoliSci degree. You sell metal; I drove trains – until very recently.

    What you need is Eff-Yoo money. Make it while it’s there to be made – you have the theatrics down; you’re selling a commodity that’s needed. There’s nothing to be ashamed of in that. I, too, come from a long line of university-educated professionals; and I, too, was the Black Sheep of the family.

    It’s your world. You can’t live your father’s world; but you can make the most of this one.

    Are you overpaid? Probably. Will you get pay when you get old and physically unattractive and cannot handle the grind? When your stomach rebels at another round of business hotels, and talking to people you have come to despise…when you develop a drinking problem or a multiple-woman problem…any of which, either of which, can only be solved by pulling the pin?

    They will not. You’ll be tossed on the scrap heap like the metal products you sold, buyers used and then discarded.

    Make your money. Sock it away, the best way you can today (with our rigged investment market and our deliberately-inflated dollars) and then make plans to walk away. Try to aim for, prior to Age 50.

  35. Will

    “if you don’t do something great by 30, you probably never will”

    Colonel Sanders, Reed Hastings et al disagree with this assessment. Steve Jobs created pixar in his 30’s. His most important products was in his 40’s. Life isn’t linear and a lot of the doctors and lawyers that are “doing great things” are just cogs in a wheel.

  36. Jeff Zekas

    Way too much humble bragging from this writer… let’s read articles by folks who have real problems…

  37. Tom Nelson

    You are but one of hundreds of thousands if not millions with the same sell image. Two things.

    One – college tells an employer three things about you: 1.) you have enough intelligence to secure the degree; 2.) you have enough conformity to do what is required to get the degree; 3.) you are persistent enough to work through the BS to get the degree. More can be gleamed – but those three are most critical.

    Secondly, every father (mother, parent) provides a pair of shoulders for their children to stand on for the next generations achievements. Likewise, every father hopes their children will provide the same for his grandchildren.

  38. David Florida

    “Why, anybody can have a brain. That’s a very mediocre commodity. Every pusillanimous creature that crawls on the Earth or slinks through slimy seas has a brain. Back where I come from, we have universities, seats of great learning, where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts and with no more brains than you have. But they have one thing you haven’t got: a diploma.”
    – The Wizard of Oz, 1939

    I have twenty-six years on staff at a relatively large university. The comparisons of department meetings with Kindergarten only seem more apt as time goes on…

  39. tyates

    One of the truisms of the modern world is that the more bullshit your job sounds like, the more you seem to make. My wife markets and sells TV shows overseas. She meets journalists, writes press releases, votes in well known awards, goes to red carpet events, meets celebrities, gets flown around the world, etc etc. There are millions of people who would do that job for little or no pay. And yet, her salary, with bonuses, is basically higher than an average doctors or lawyers and far higher than a tradesmans who does stuff like, keep the lights on. Why is that the case? I have no idea.

  40. yamahog

    I work in marketing and everyone in my team has a degree in either engineering, a natural science, or a mathematical science. To a person, every single one of them is somewhat embarrassed that work on targeting emails better and measuring click through rates on social media ad campaigns. However, it’s more lucrative than working in a more technical capacity. Philosopher kings don’t make much more than excel jockeys.

    The reality of six figure compensation appears to be this – you either need managerial experience (projects/people/ or profitability), or requisite experience and the ability to program computers. You can more with the right law degree or with a doctorate in medicine but to some degree the salary reflects the immense debt burden – it’s certainly tough to save for retirement, pay your taxes, address your debt, save for a rainy day, and keep up appearances in professional circles.

    There’s a very real risk you’d take a pay hit moving towards a more educated profession. It’s unlikely that you’d make much more unless you were an excellent manager.

    To some degree, any career you might find yourself in is going to have bologna, you will be called to justify your salary, and to presume that changing from one six figure career to another is going to dramatically change your life (at least in the eyes of people who break a sweat at work) is to fetishize the specifics of the career. You’ll cost-justify any career you chose with the same question, “do I like the lifestyle this affords?”.

    The only thing you stand to gain are checkmarks for the boxes offered up by respectable society. To some degree that’s more legitimate than simply figuring out how to signal the appearance of checking boxes. Consider this statement from The Hotel Concierge: “Make no mistake, the performative sadness is not consequent to the pursuit of hedonism; it is a justification.”

    You have my permission – save enough for a rainy day but have fun and enjoy the money. Tell us about the fast bikes!

    Want to indict society for the shame you feel?

    If you want a spark notes for above:

  41. cc-rider

    Second the comment to check out the Cal Newport book, “So Good They Can Not Ignore You.”

    Also, there is a big difference between a career and a calling.

  42. John

    ” I am deeply ashamed of this, and do not know how to reconcile it with my previously held notions about success.”

    ” Hours are long, and vacations are either nonexistent or frequently interrupted by the need to manage a hot order.”

    ” I now own fast motorcycles and nice watches and Ohlins shocks. I do not fear the first of the month.”

    ” There’s a theatrical element to it that I can’t help but appreciate.”

    ” …it takes more than cash to silence a screaming inferiority complex.”

    ” I can feel my wit and tact slipping away.”

    ” …I respect the hustle.”

    ” Nevertheless, I can’t stand to look at myself in the mirror in the morning, and I need to do something about it.”

    The toys, and money, are nice, but how long before it is you nursing the Tallboy on the drive home?
    You might find this a good starting point

  43. Jorge Monteiro

    In this little country on the other side of the ocean, I live in, we say:
    Money does not give happiness… but it’s a greeeeat help to get it

    I Subscribe Thomas Kreutzer:
    “…There is also a third way, but it requires effort and discipline. Stay where you are but set the highest standards. Live by a strict code of ethics. Be the best you can be at your job. Care about your customers, serve their needs and build real-life relationships. Put away the gamesmanship and the hard-sell and really engage with others. Do what is right for your company and your customers and you will earn the respect of both… ”

    Enjoy your “American Dream”

  44. tresmonos

    fuck the naysayers. fuck your family’s peer pressure. All of my friends who are more successful than I were at the right place at the right time.

    While medicine is a noble practice, a world full of doctors won’t make the economic wheels turn. Law will yield you a 60k/yr job. STEM is just as ‘easy’ as your gig (to the right mind) and can be even less rewarding. Sales to me scare me as I’m not a schmoozer.

    You clearly have a talent. Without people like you, I’d be fucked up my ass at work. I can’t tell you how frustrated I am and how much I’ve been knee capped by poor logistics and lack of available spare parts. My shit eating OEM will put just about every obstacle between me and a viable solution because management has little faith in their salaried ranks to not over spend their budget. Rarely do I get an order delivered when I want it and it’s actually fucking correct. If you dont’ fucking suck, you’re doing God’s work. You’re a do-er whether you believe it or not.

    I don’t even see a real doctor anymore because my nurse practitioner is better. I can hardly talk with my friends who have attended business school at UofM and some fancy school in Texas because they’re so disconnected with reality it hurts my head. I bet you and I could lament our shit eating careers over a few tall boys of coors original and be better off for it.

    • Danio

      Ugh the auto industry. Just when I think I can get out, they pull me back in. I don’t think I can do anything else.

      You and I need to finally have some drinks the next time I’m in Michigan.

    • Wonka

      “All of my friends who are more successful than I were at the right place at the right time.”
      … Yep, totally true, and most of them are real morons (not really my friends after a while).

      “My shit eating OEM”
      … Is there any other kind of OEM?

  45. Don Johnson

    I don’t particularly respect the profession of sales. Sorry. Just offering a counterpoint to the circlejerk above.

  46. Danio

    Sounds like you’ve got a great gig that you’re good at. That’s something. I’ve taken many different roles in my industry (corporate, auto) and direct selling is by far the most challenging, yet can be the most rewarding. Don’t feel shame for what you do, nothing happens in our world until someone sells something. If your doctor and lawyer friends think what you do is “low brow” then perhaps they’re too snooty. I know a few people who ran and hid to dark corners of medicine and law because while they could achieve in school, they were functionally incompetent in the real world.

    I have friends across all industries at many different income levels. I don’t let income or their be a qualifier, that stuff changes all the time. Our common interests are what unite us. Racing, rallying, off-roading, shooting, drinking, whatever.

    My suggestion would be to keep running at what you’ve got going, and evalutate any new opportunity that comes your way. A coding farm ain’t for you if you have the skills to make $200k annually selling. Giver.


    I’m late to the party with my tough love, but I really hope you read this, Guest.

    If I were your dad, I’d slap the shit out of you for being such a dumbass.

    Let’s review the facts here.
    -You’re only 27 and pulling down what is presumably a six figure income
    -You work for a company that sells tangible things other companies want to buy
    -You’re good at your job
    -You have no debt
    -Management doesn’t care what you wear, say or smoke
    -Your co-workers are all total bros

    TLDR: Son, whether you know it or not, you’re livin’ the dream. You’ve found your niche. My advice to you is to ride that summ’bitch for as long as possible.

    While you’re doing that, continue to learn as much about your company and industry as possible.

    Now, let’s address some other things you brought up.

    1. “One side of my family is comprised of nothing but doctors and lawyers, and I’m phobically terrified of discussing my low-brow career at family gatherings.”

    Don’t be. Tell them what you do. Explain the company, industry and market. Answer the questions they will inevitably have. Pro-Tip #1: The doctors will secretly envy you for being successful, self-sufficient and debt free at such a young age. These nimrods spent 20 years in school before they made any money and racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. They also deal with annoying sick people and a whiny staff all day. Pro-Tip #2: The lawyers will secretly envy you for selling an honest product and making an honest living. Lawyers are some of the most miserable sons-of-bitches I’ve ever met. They all drink like fish and have affairs to numb the pain of all the moral compromises they’ve made over the course of their lives. The women are even worse. Pro-Tip #3: I can’t emphasize this enough. You have no idea how freaking annoying the average workplace is in the current year. You are blessed, yes, blessed to be surrounded by other dude-bros.

    2. “The other side is made up of hard-working mechanics and small businessmen, and despite efforts to hide my good fortune, their resentment is palpable.”

    This is where knowing your company, business and market comes in. Engage these guys! Ask them questions about their business and trades and just let ’em talk. Network wherever possible. Slide work their way if you can, or just ask if they “know a guy who does X” when your company is in need of “a guy who does X”. Extended family is a gift. Revel in it.

    3. “My college friends have pursued advanced degrees in fields like politics and law. Discussions in our group chat have veered towards topics that require me to frantically search Wikipedia just to keep up with the concepts. I can feel my wit and tact slipping away.”

    None of those poofters knows a goddamned thing about steel, alloys or metallurgy. They should be the ones frantically searching Wikipedia to keep up with you. Again, these people are laden with debt, underemployed and work around some of the shittiest people on the planet. Don’t lord it over them, but don’t think for a second that they’re better than you. Tact? Who gives a fuck?!? You get to be the wild-boy barbarian of this social group. I fail to see the downside.

    4. “Nevertheless, I can’t stand to look at myself in the mirror in the morning, and I need to do something about it.”

    Pull your head out of your ass and try it again.

    5. “The clock’s ticking, and as they say: if you don’t do something great by 30, you probably never will.”

    Guy, this isn’t even true for musicians anymore. I will leave you with two anecdotes about a couple of my cousins. One took a sales job at a ball bearing company and did well for himself. In his mid 30’s, he saw a niche opening and started his own company in a similar industry. Now he’s insanely rich. Another cousin took an entry level job with a hazardous waste management company. The company did well, and he ended up buying into it. In his early 40’s, when the owner retired, he bought him out completely. It’s his company now, and he got stupid rich. You tried to run a company when you were very young and it didn’t work out. That said, I know you’ve learned things from that experience. Learn your company, business and market. Be prepared the next time an opportunity presents itself.

    Also, you’re young, but get right with God. Then find a high quality woman who is younger than you and marry her. Knock her up repeatedly. Be a good father to your children. This will teach you perspective, purpose and patience in ways you never thought possible.

    Best Wishes.

  48. WheeTwelve

    After all the comments, I’m not sure that I have anything useful to add. If I somehow found myself in your shoes, knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t waste my money on fast motorcycles and Öhlins shocks. In my view, your ability to do what you do is one of the most difficult things there is to do. Maybe that’s because I didn’t cheat on my math exams, got a science degree, and have nothing but debt and fear of the 1st to show for it. *shrug* Everyone is different.

    No, I would try to learn how to be even better at what you’re already good at. And then move up. Make even more money. Just don’t burn it. Learn how to make the money work for you, and in 20 years you can do whatever you damn well please. The difficult thing for you will be not to destroy your body, your mind, and your life in the meantime.

    As for looking at yourself in the mirror, you should be able to find a decent shrink to help you sort that out. There are some very intelligent people commenting here, but good professional help would probably work better. Introspection typically isn’t common among good salesmen, so you probably need someone to help you out with that. And there’s nothing wrong with asking for help. It will also likely keep you from drinking tallboys on the drive home in the future (not that you do that now, of course). Now, once you find out the real reasons why your current successful career bothers you so much, you can decide whether you want to change your career, or whatever it is that bothers you so much about it.

    Best of luck.

  49. John

    “The clock’s ticking, and as they say: if you don’t do something great by 30, you probably never will”

    Who said this?


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