A close friend recently told me, "No matter what job you do, you're in sales."
I tend to agree.
As a musician, I sell my art and my performances. As a general contractor, I sell my ideas and visions to my trades. As a mom, I sell the notion that reading is better than Youtube and that broccoli is delicious.
(Which is of course the hardest sell of them all).
Anyway, in less than 3 weeks, I'll be selling food and drinks at my new restaurant, The Norwegian. I'm nervous and completely broke, but I'm also happy it's finally happening. This week, I began booking company Christmas parties, and I had a sit-down with potential clients.
As we sat together at one of my pub tables, the clients asked me what kind of food I could serve them. I started my usual excited rant about giant sides of salmon and sea bass, cascading piles of curried lentils, vibrant bowls of chimichurri and homemade pickles, luscious mounds of Nordic cookies and confections...
Crickets. My rant was met with blank stares.
The clients--who were extremely kind--asked if I could make them something less messy, more like bite-sized appetizers. Which was a perfectly reasonable request. And so I plunged into an optimistic diatribe about how eager I was to try to make them little tartlets and terrines. I would make them dainty morsels fit for royals. I would make them anything they could dream up!
As I spoke the words, I hardly recognized my own voice. And inside my head, there was a different internal dialogue:
Dear God I don't want to make little tartlets and terrines.
Later that night, I was at odds with myself. My mind raced. I'm not even open for business, and already I'm selling something that's not an accurate reflection of who I am. Granted, I do like challenges, and I do need the money from private events, but how much of myself am I willing to give up to make it happen?
Anxious, I sat down at the computer to write the clients. In the end, my authenticity won out, and I told them truth: I'm not great at making bite-sized foods. That's not what I do. And even though I will try, I really hope they'll let me serve them epic boards of fish and pickles, because that's what I'm good at, and that's what I'll do best.
I breathed deep. I had made my pitch. Only instead of selling them what I thought they wanted to hear, I sold them what I believed. I sold them who I am. I sold them what I love. And the result?
I don't know. I still haven't heard back from them. They may have taken their business elsewhere.
But on my end, I feel great.
Reader, if it's true that we're all selling something, there's really very little point to trying to sell something we aren't. Life is too short to be inauthentic. That's not to say that we shouldn't take on challenges. But if those challenges compromise what you are, it's ok to honestly own the fact that you would do something differently. After all, the biggest part of sales is confidence, and confidence comes from believing in yourself, not from compromising it.
And with that, myself is off to put my 3 year-old to sleep. Tomorrow I look forward to my new daily breakfast board of fish and pickles, because that's what I love. So let's all get out there this week and sell ourselves (which of course sounds very prostitute-ish, but you catch the drift). See you next Sunday. -Em