I earned one of my first pay slips selling shoes on Camden High Street in London. I’ve never been as good at something as I was at selling shoes. I was born for it, and I loved everything about it. I’d spend entire days organizing the warehouse so that the shoes were quick and easy to find. Then I’d come to the shop and sell enough pairs to snatch a fat bonus at the end of the month without breaking a sweat.
The boss must have noticed the prodigy and decided to send me to work in another shop of his, in a different part of town. It was an hour-and-a-half-long commute to a godforsaken place. Even on busy days, only a handful of people would enter the shop. I got the warehouse in shipshape, and then I risked dying of boredom. That wasn’t what I had signed up for, so I quit.
And that’s the parable of my short-lived career in sales. I learned nothing from the experience. But there’s another person that sold shoes when he was very young. That person is Jason Fried, and he did learn something from the experience.
For example, he noticed that he could talk at length about the materials and particular construction of a shoe, as well as the improvements over the previous models, but all most people cared about was that the shoes were comfy and came in a color they liked. It doesn’t matter what he tried to sell them, they would only buy what they wanted. It’s the first rule of sales: It’s not about you.