Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tell an interesting story about yourself (some of the best advice I ever got)

I was at a company sales meeting in New York City this past weekend.  I know, normally not my cup of green tea, but it was actually an awesome event.  I got a chance to touch base with a lot of my customers, get valuable feedback, hear from a great speaker, launch our iPad app, and even go out and have a good time.

The meetings took place over the entire weekend, starting with a reception Friday night and going solid through Sunday evening.  On the final night of the event we had a small awards banquet, and were provided assigned seating.  This meant, of course, I wasn’t able to sit where I would be comfortable and among those I normally associate with.  Then again, this isn’t so bad of a thing.. it get’s me more involved with others, and many of these folks I knew on a casual basis anyway.

So one of the socialites of the group said “OK, lets go around the table, and everyone introduce yourself and tell an interesting story.”  So of course, they start with the gentleman to my left, and by this order I’ll be the last person to speak. Over the next 15 minutes, each person follows suit, providing details about themselves, talking about various accolades and crazy sales trips they’ve been on.  Finally they get to me, and at this point everyone is talking amongst themselves.

GOOD!  I thought everyone lost interest and they would forget about me.  Instead, the socialite said “Hey! It’s Eric’s Turn” and everyone went back to drinking moderately and staring at me making me rather uncomfortable.

So I gave my brief introduction (married 9+ years, have a daughter, etc.).  And then I gave my story, which was the only story I could think of.

When I was a senior in high school, I took an Advanced Placement programming class.  It was in C++, and the whole idea is that if you take the AP exam and score well, you get college credit.  At that time, the exam was scaled on a 1-5, 5 being the best.  I took the exam, and I got a 1.

Dejected I did so poorly, I went over my girlfriends house, who’s father was working for IBM. When I told him how I did, and mentioned I was going to change my declared major from programming to something else, he told me that you don’t go to college because you know everything, you go to college because you know nothing.

So, I stuck with my major, continued to struggle with software development, graduated, and kept grinding and working on getting better, and hope that I’m halfway decent enough to provide help today.

Well, the brief memoir was met with instant applause, I felt really proud they enjoyed the story, and even prouder I was able to think of something to say other than a silly joke.

However it did make me reflect on what I do, where I’ve come from, and how far I need to go.  It was a great reminder for me to remember that I am far from gifted in my field, but I am fortunate enough to enjoy what I do, enough so that when I have a problem or am interested, it’s hard work and dedication (just like anything else) that helps me continually improve and grow.

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