I would return each year from College back to Long Island from Indiana. For three years, I was a “summer manager” for a Long Island newspaper. This was essentially a fill in role for route managers, typical 10 -20 year veterans, who worked full time and took off longish vacations each summer. A time when paper routes existed and kids received dropped off paper bundles daily on their driveway and delivered these papers to neighbors on bicycles. Everyone was in the revenue line in this model.

I learned about confidence in two very different ways as a college man. Each day I would have to be at work ready to deliver the bundles to these kid’s houses and on weekends, I pulled Sunday duty, which was 3am to get that paper out the door early. I never missed work and earned good money all season long – helping me with college funding. The second confidence experience was memorable and has stuck with me all my life. There was some situation in which a business ball was dropped (I do not even remember the specifics). What did happen was I was pinned as the primary culprit by the overall Supervisor manager who had all these managers in many offices reporting to him. I knew I had nothing to do with whatever it was and I was not happy about it.

On the phone, for about 10 minutes I was dressed down, loudly. All the managers in that office and probably others all grape-vined in on the issue and my apparent fault. Then I redialed this Super Manager and asked him what office he was in (yes this was before digital displays). I jumped in my car and on the 25 minute drive over – I rehearsed my approach.  I went in, shook his hand firmly and framed his issue correctly. Looking him straight in the eye, I explained it was not possible for me to be responsible for this great failing and that it was fine if he needed someone to blame, but not acceptable that he would adversely affect my good reputation and hard work in such a public manner. He took a moment, and then put out his hand and said, “you know Eli, I may have gotten it wrong, and I am sorry for acting so rashly”. Please accept my apology, I will make it up to you. And he did, I got the next 3am Sunday off.

What I learned was to not avoid confrontation, stand up for yourself, and commit to your craft. This was not about wrong or right. The lesson I learned was about being true to me. In sales this is vital because the level of rejection, disappointment, and long slow days and nights can be overwhelming for many, but personal internal commitment is the ingredient to help oneself to get to the good stuff, closing deals.