Today is my Real World Anniversary
Today is the anniversary of my first day working a full-time job. Twenty-three years ago, I started my corporate career as a Telephone Account Representative selling yellow pages advertising for DonTech, now Thryv.
I worked at DonTech (or some derivative) for almost a decade. The experiences and relationships I forged at this prominent directory publisher shaped my life.
My first week I learned to do my homework
On August 4, 1997, I showed up at DonTech’s corporate headquarters in downtown Chicago. I opened the glass doors, straightened my navy Casual Corner suit and greeted Dennis Hanson, Director of Training. His enthusiasm and affability put me at ease. Dennis played a big role in my career — not only did he hire me, but he later recognized that my talents were best suited in sales technology rather than sales. He taught me one of my first corporate leadership lessons:
First, find the right people. Once you have the right people, put them in the right roles.
To succeed at DonTech, you needed tenacity from day one. All yellow pages sales trainees were mailed an 18-page script to memorize and recite on the first day of training. I only completed 16 pages on the first day. It actually took me two days to complete all 18 pages. But I did it. They gave the class the first week to complete the task. Some trainees did not complete it. They were asked to pack up and find another job.
After being in the real world for one week, I discovered we still had homework. And if you didn’t do your homework, you could be fired.
If you didn’t do your homework, you could be fired.
I made my first sale — I had no idea what I was doing
The second test of tenacity was field training. I was clueless. My sales experience was limited to high school class fundraisers. I had never used the yellow pages, let alone understood that businesses advertised in them. I didn’t understand the advertising industry at all. Until my senior year of college, I had…