Find relevance in your work

May 28, 2017

Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, in his book — Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike — shares some invaluable insights on success.

Knight’s first job was to sell encyclopaedias. He did not have much success. His second job was to sell securities. He did not do well here either. Just when he was beginning to lose faith in his ability as a sale person, he set up Nike and started selling shoes. According to Phil Knight, he succeeded this time because he was selling a product he believed in, and liked.

Knight had been an athlete on his college team. He loved running. He knew how important a good pair of shoes was to a runner. This made him a credible shoe salesman, and the rest is history.

Knight’s personal life story reinforces the point that secret of success lies in doing what you like doing. Knight was not failing as a salesman, he was just not selling the products that he was interested in, or had the passion for. The moment he got to sell shoes, he excelled.

Everyone is not as fortunate as Knight to find a job or a career of his liking, though it is worth trying. Not everyone is daring enough to make a career transition either.  As a result, there are people who have the aptitude for selling shoes remain stuck in selling shampoos. They struggle to deliver the results and don’t reach their peak. And, this affects their self-esteem.

No one likes all aspects of his/her work. We have only two choices: Either dare to change or find relevance in the work we do. Finding relevance means we should see the connection of our work with a higher level goal. Pursuing a worthwhile goal most often gets the best out of us.

In one of my earlier posts – Managing Self-Esteem at Work – I had made a few suggestions. Contentment comes in finding relevance in things we do; and in pursuing goals that give a sense of satisfaction. Since Knight had been an athlete himself, he did not just sell shoes, he believed in making shoes that would help sportsperson achieve their dream. This led him to constantly work on improving the design and features of his products.


Learning while shopping

August 29, 2011

One of the reasons I like shopping is that it gives me an opportunity to observe people’s attitudes, of sales personnel as well as customers. And yes, it makes the family happy, particularly my daughter. Recently, we were on a short trip to Spain with a group of friends. Although shopping was not on the agenda but like most of the times, we ended up finding time to do a quick round. We landed up at a shop that sold women’s bags and shoes. The lady at the shop patiently showed a number of bags. This any sales person would do but what impressed me more was the way she did a thorough quality check before packing the bag and accepting the payment. She ensured that all zips were working fine and the piece was perfect.

On our way back, I asked my daughter if she noticed the lady’s attitude. She could have simply packed the piece because we had selected it ourselves. But she cared, for us and for the credibility of her shop. I wish all of us develop this attitude of serving our clients with an eye on quality of products and services that we offer.

In the same trip, our group had a meal at a restaurant. To our surprise we received a much inflated bill. We settled on a figure but not only after having an argument which was absolutely unnecessary. I admired the way our friend handled the restaurant guy, keeping his cool and going through the order a number of times with him. He managed to reach a consensus some where mid-way between what we thought we had ordered and what was put on the bill. Naturally, we left the place in a bad mood with a decision not to visit it again. We wondered if the restaurant person really got confused because our group had ordered different things at different times or he simply wanted to cheat. I would prefer to assume that he got confused. When you feel you got a rough deal, try to give the benefit of doubt to the other person. It will make you feel lighter. It is much better than carrying the burden that you dealt with a dishonest person.