Today's Reading

CHAPTER ONE

A NEW ME

"I got fired."

Three words I never imagined I would say.

Three words I was too embarrassed to say to my family and friends.

Three words that changed my life—forever—in ways I had no way of predicting.

Some people describe being fired as a "humbling experience." That's not how I would describe it. Maddening, shocking, psychotic are all words that instantly come to mind when I look back on that terrible moment.

And what made it all that and more was how it all went down.

It might be a little easier to understand if I give you some backstory first. I grew up poor. My childhood was not one I like to sit around and reminisce about. In some ways this has been a blessing, because I learned to be driven like no other. But in other ways, this has been a holdback. For much of my life, I was driven to chase a paycheck more than anything. All I knew was I didn't want to be poor—I didn't want to struggle. I didn't want the kids I dreamed I would have someday to grow up in a trailer, as I did.

That feeling of standing in the grocery checkout line and realizing you would have to put back half of the items on the belt because you didn't have enough money pained me. Oddly, some people would have no problem with that. For some reason, however, when it happened to me, it ripped my heart out. The shame I felt thinking others were looking down on me, realizing I couldn't buy what I wanted and had to operate differently, was long-lasting.

Once you feel like that, there's a really good chance you will do anything in your power to never feel that way again. And that's exactly how I responded.

 
WORKING MY WAY UP

I started delivering newspapers at ten years old, then busing tables at a diner, then working the front counter and drive-thru windows at fast-food restaurants, then waiting tables and eventually bartending my way through college. My dream was to graduate and join a sales team. To be completely honest, I didn't just dream of joining a sales team—I desperately wanted to join a sales team. Not because I felt a passion or excitement to work for a business, but because I quickly learned that the owners of the nicest cars in the parking lot where I slung drinks were always salespeople.

They were the ones who left the biggest tips. They were the ones who had the nicest houses. They were the ones who had enough money to buy the most expensive suits, dresses, and shoes.

And they never had to put their groceries back.

I joined a top winery's sales team as soon as I graduated, and I flat outworked everyone else—even the old-timers. It didn't take long before I became the top salesperson and was promoted to brand manager.

It also didn't take long after getting promoted that my new boss started sexually harassing me. I was too afraid to take on the company, too afraid to fight for what I knew was right, so I quit. I aggressively put myself out there looking for another sales job while bartending on the side.

At a networking event a couple of weeks later, I met a man who stood out from the rest of the crowd, and I decided to chat him up. He told me I should go to work for him, and I told him he wouldn't be able to afford me. When he asked me how much I expected to be paid, I told him $75,000—never imagining he would pay anyone he just met at a networking event that kind of salary.

"You start in the morning," he told me.

I was of course excited by this stroke of good fortune—I walked into the event a part-time bartender and walked out newly employed with a $75,000 salary. What I didn't realize at the time was that I had left a lot of money on the table. I had undersold myself. This was something I would do again many times in my career.

When you don't see your own worth, others won't see it either.
People pay you what you believe you are worth
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