Matthew Smith – Indiana University
Roughly two and a half years ago my roommate, best friend, and current student manager Wes Linette opened the door to an opportunity and reality that I’m forever grateful for – Southwestern Advantage. No, I wasn’t a believer from day one, but a few years later I am and as a result continue to challenge myself each and every day. Southwestern isn’t simply a job, Southwestern is a daily decision, a lifestyle.
Following Wes’s first summer with Southwestern, where he sold in and around Beaumont, Texas for a full summer, he immediately told me that not only would I succeed at the job, but I would love it. Love selling books door-to door? Love sweating, a lot? Love hearing ‘No!’ over thirty times a day? Love not seeing my family, friends, and golf courses all summer long? To me, the thought of loving this job made absolutely no sense. Thanks to Wes’s passion, persistence, and the perks of living a short three steps away from him, I gave him some time.
Long story short, I came out for my first summer of selling books, semi-reluctantly. Ultimately, the trust that I had in Wes, the fact that I love to succeed, and Wes’s continued push for me to work with him led me to hot, humid, and lovely Waco, Texas. The summer began quick, as I actually sold a massive package (sarcasm) at my first contact of the summer at 7:54 am, a full set of My Fun with Words! BOOM, three units and counting! The success continued as I signed up another set of books, this time some My Books, then a whole Kids Collection! Shoot, I was on pace to break the company first-year record, Ricardo L. Desoto (8000+ units) look out!
The record pursuit slowed down, in a hurry. The humidity, the rejection, the hours, the attitude caught up to me quickly. Rather than ‘Yes’ it was ‘No’, rather than ‘How’ it was ‘Should’, rather than ‘Find a way’ it was ‘Find an excuse’. The reality of the summer began to hit hard, this was a tough job. As the summer continued I found average success yet learned that the system only works if I work. I learned that taking the stairs isn’t easy. I learned that my natural ability couldn’t carry me. I learned that it is definitely easier to look for an excuse than a way. The summer came to an end; it was humbling, challenging, and extremely eye-opening. I am forever grateful for being humbled, challenged, and now able to see myself in a more accurate/real manner.
I began my junior year of school far from 100% on board with selling books again. The doubts, the skeptics, and the uncertainties involved all gave me fear. It wasn’t until multiple tough, honest meetings with my DSM and good friend Brandon Devlin that I made the decision to come back, and SUCCEED. Thanks to Brandon’s ability to listen, respond, and find the best in me I am now typing this with utter confidence in my abilities, decision-making, and goals.
Summer two began and our group was back in Texas, this time finding myself in Victoria, Texas. GoogleMap it if you may, that’s right, deep south, like Mexico almost. This time instead of living with my friend and student manager I would be living with some guy from Washington, who I had just met in sales school, who had a real weird name: Kielan Stewart. Little did I know, working, living, and joking with Kielan made this summer what it was, that being successful, memorable, and hilarious all at once.
This past summer in Victoria can be best summed up by one word: GROWTH. I’m far from perfect, heck I’m good at best, but what I learned in Victoria, Texas was perspective, work-habits, and what a winning-attitude really means. The summer and the challenges it presented definitely didn’t get any easier, I got better. I personally made the decision to work more hours, see more families, work early, work late, have fun, and grow. As a result of these decisions I made the impact that I was looking to make on the families of Victoria, Texas. I wasn’t a solicitor, nor an outsider – I was ‘The Bookman’ in the area. My sales almost tripled from the first summer. My confidence was restored, and my belief in the system and myself was real. The money, the experience, the challenge, the travel, the impact, and the growth excite and motivate me for summer three. This is a GROWTH business, a personal growth business.
A big thanks to Brandon Devlin, Wes Linette, Jake Fowler, Lester Crafton, Kielan Stewart, Dave Kleifgan, Jake Hoffberg, Danielle Roos, Tyler Smith, Bryan Fink, Jake Valley, Jessica Starrett, CJ Burtner, and all other people I have the privilege to work with. Also, thanks to all my skeptics and anyone who’s ever said ‘no’, because of you I continue to strive to be my best and find a way.
“Discipline allows for YOU to be in charge of your results.” – Rory Vaden: Take the Stairs