Haley Price – University of Texas
When asked about my proudest accomplishment or my most valuable experience – at the top of my list, no doubt about it, is “selling books door-to-door in the Southwestern Advantage Internship”. There is no better way to catapult oneself into emotional and mental maturity than through going door-to-door.
Right around Spring Break of my freshman year at the University of Texas, I got a phone call from a guy I didn’t know at the time named Wade. Wade wanted to talk to me about a summer work program, in which the average salesperson made over $8,000. I went to the introductory meetings, and learned all about the program and what I could expect from it. I remember, after a few meetings, Wade asked me if I wanted to come out and work with him that summer. I thought about it, and decided that I could certainly do at least as good as the average guy, and that a little hard work might be good for me. I had been relatively successful at just about everything I had done in my life, so I assumed this would come rather easily for me. After all, I was “good with people.”
I enthusiastically agreed and told Wade I was “in!” Then he looked at me straight in the face and said, “Haley, if you come sell books this summer, and you do the following three things, I guarantee that you will make a lot of money, make a lot of friends, and learn a ton about yourself. Those three things are: Study Hard. Work Hard. And Be Coachable.”
And that summer, I went off to New Albany, Indiana. And I cried on my first day on the bookfield. And my second day. And I cried my third day, too.
I cried because, for the first time in my life, it seemed that nobody knew nor did they really care what I was doing. For the first time ever, I was (sometimes rudely) being told, “NO!” and “get out of here!” I was not used to this level rejection, and I certainly did not like it very much.
But as the days wore on, I learned the powerful skill of how to control my emotions. I learned that I was not ME that these people were rejecting. They didn’t even know me! The way they were acting had absolutely nothing to do with me. And once I finally learned this, I was able to overcome the crying, as well as several other mental and emotional fears I had brought along with me to New Albany.
About midway through the summer, I thought back to that thing Wade told me back on campus about doing those 3 things (study hard, work hard, and be coachable). I looked back at my performance, and I was shocked how RIGHT my student manager had been. Just like he said I would, I was actually making money (a lot more money than I had ever made before). I was meeting new people. People from different cultures, backgrounds, and norms. I was getting to sit down with these people, inside their homes , and talk to them about whatever I wanted to talk to them about. I asked people what they believed in and how they think and what they value. I got to see how people treat their spouses and their children and how they keep their living room.
I met people who were so unbelievably kind to me, even though I was a complete stranger. I met families who had adopted over a dozen children, simply out of the goodness of their hearts and generosity of spirit. I met a family that owned a SKUNK, and another one that owned a fawn that had a collar and slept in a dog bed in the living room (hey, to each his own). I met successful business people, professional writers, dancers, farmers, lawyers, factory-workers, artists, teachers, and lots of Mom’s that worked their butts off being great Moms. I met families that were overflowing with love and respect for one another; and I met others who were not. I met women whom I aspired to be just like someday; and I met some whom I vowed never to emulate.
I learned more, about myself and about human nature, than I ever thought possible. I learned the value of hard work and the value of a dollar. I learned how to run a successful business, how to make decisions for myself, and how much impact a positive mental attitude can make on your life. I learned that complaining gets you nowhere, and making excuses almost sends you backward. I learned that supporting a friend is one of the most special gifts in the world, and that leadership can literally move mountains.
But above all, I learned that life is about living it. It’s not about fame or power, nor status or rank. It’s about figuring out who you really are, and how you can be that very best version of you – for the betterment of yourself and those around you.
After 3 years of selling books, I went off to work at Microsoft in online advertising sales in New York City. After 4 years there, I decided to come back to work with Southwestern Advantage, helping to develop their educational and success-readiness websites called Southwestern Advantage Online and SkWids. And quite frankly, I couldn’t be happier.