As we get older we evolve and adapt. Sometimes for the better, other times maybe we miss the mark. I follow a few people on Twitter and recently Michael Callaghan who works at Disney in Software Dev/Angular posted about serving ice cream in the park:
This got me thinking about a couple of experiences I had, one of them a missed opportunity.
My career in Software Development started in 1997 at Iomega and I was both fortunate and unfortunate enough to have lived through the first big tech bubble. 2001/2002 arrives, my boss at Nortel Networks was murdered by her husband which is a sad story as she was such a wonderful person. That left our entire group vulnerable to the impending layoffs that occurred and reduced the company from 100k+ employees to nothing in the next year. So, here I am out of work, applying for every tech job I could find, only to be told that there were 1000's of applicants so I knew this process would be slow and painful.
My dad always worked for himself and told me that I could work for him if I needed some extra cash. The problem, at least in my mind, was that he sold commercial restroom accessories, and quite frankly, that was not in my wheelhouse. That being said, I had a lot of downtime so I decided bonding with my dad and trying something new couldn't be that bad?
My dad gave me the largest three-ring binder I have ever seen. It was filled with restroom-related items from sinks to washers to tampon machines and all the parts that make them up. Then he said, "Now to the fun part, you get to go cold call on some building maintenance departments with me." He took me around to some large buildings and we went through the sales process.
I learned a valuable lesson about sales. Selling isn't about price but relationships. That could be said about restroom parts or freelancing because although the price may inform someone's decision there is always going to be a price point above and below you so working on the relationship is what is generally important especially regarding longer-term projects/clients. I worked for my dad for a short time, made a few sales, and generally regarded that as a positive growth experience in my life.
Let's fast forward a bit when the economy opened and I ended up working for a large restaurant chain, Carino's Italian (Fired Up, Inc), as the Application Development Manager. This was a fun place to work and part of their internal process was for the home office staff to work in the restaurant for a couple of days. I was younger and at the time really didn't see much of the value in this and for whatever reason and I don't recall the exact one, I never manned my spot in the restaurant (this was over 15 years ago). Looking back on this, I really missed an opportunity to spend time with the manager of the restaurant, the staff, to see how some of the projects we were building/built really impacted them for better or worse.
We sometimes get overly focused on our immediate job, in my case, building software. Reaching out to the users where they are, letting them provide feedback, complain and compliment, can go a long way to not only building a better product but also a better relationship.