Life Lessons
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6 Things I’ve Learnt Working at the IT Show

So a week ago I decided to work at the IT Show. Well, my dad kept nagging at me to get a ‘proper’ job, and by ‘proper’ he means a job where there will be a boss scolding you. And partly, I thought it’ll be kewl to get out my comfort zone. I have a feeling that I’m getting too comfortable with the stuff I’m doing and my rising ego needs to be kept in check. There’s not much challenge anymore to keep my life exciting. Besides, there’s a lack of human interaction in my jobs. It’s just constant emailing and facing the computer for a few hours each day. My conversational English isn’t that great to be honest, so I thought I’ll go out there and improve on my speaking skills and find out how vicious is the dog-eat-dog world out there. Amongst all the friendships I made during the 4 days, I’ve learnt quite a couple of things as well along the way.

1. People are nicer than expected.
I’m talking about my colleagues actually. Before this show I have the perception that it’s going to be awkward for everyone. I always thought it’s going to be awkward to make new friends in new environments and settings. It’s bugging me a little how I always wait for people to introduce themselves or say hi to my serious looking face first before I let my shield down completely and act normal around them. My colleagues were approachable and friendly. After exchanging names and coming up with a li’ll bit of small talk, I was genuinely surprised at how open they were. We talked, laughed and joked. Tho I was the youngest there it feels like they’ve known me for a very long time that kinda feeling nayum sayin? Even the people working at adjacent booths struck up conversations and we had a friendly rivalry thing going on with our marketing tactics. Although me and my colleagues argued over commission a couple of times, the tension simmered down at the end of the day and when I approached them to clear things up, they were extremely willing to do likewise too. This came as a genuine surprise to me as I expected a li’ll less enthusiasm since Singapore is ’bout as emotionless as Kristen Stewart. Nonetheless I’m still glad I worked here because really, in a few months time I might actually forget how nice people can be.

2. Don’t give up and good things will follow.
It just happens so that the location of our booth is the worst and most awkward among the other 7 participating retailers for Dell. To put it into perspective our booth’s total sales for the 4 days is less than what my friend from another retailer sold in 2 days. I’m not gonna lie it got very frustrating, not to mention tiring, standing there giving out brochures and piquing customer’s interests only to see other booths potong jalan our customers and potential customers heading towards the other retailers and buying from them. I thought it was unfair at first that some customers just walk up to the other booths and purchase the laptops without bargaining prices or asking questions while the people in our booth have to keep dealing with bargaining customers and rampant questioning by potential customers. And it got harder when we constantly get rejected because the other retailers are offering deals and prices that we can only dream of matching. Sales was dismal the first day. Throughout this journey I realised that as long as I didn’t give up, continue to work hard and do my job, a customer will eventually buy. Sure enough, sales improved 600% the next day. We see a lot of motivational quotes nowadays about not giving up and are constantly exposed to people telling us the same thing. To be honest I never really fully believed in them, but this is the first time where I fully understood what “not giving up” means. After all, nothing worth having comes easy.

3. When you get presented with a good deal, take it.
A lot of people usually come into the IT Show that they are gonna get the best deals on the last day. Likewise, I expected that I would close the most number of sales on the last day. However, those are not what happened. Stocks are low on the final day. Yes, the interest is there, but the products ran out. Most people decide to enquire about our product, and then go one big round to compare prices. When they realised we got the best deal, they come back to purchase it only to find out that we sold the model out. Even tho I’m not the one buying, from the seller’s point of view I learnt something as well. It’s a li’ll like life doesn’t it? When we get offered a good opportunity, we decide to stall or haggle and then go around looking for better opportunities, and when we decided to take up the first offer, we realised it was given to some other (intensely) grateful person. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to do so. I know of one person who got graduated from college and got offered $5,000 per month as starting pay to work in the financial sector. He thought it was too low and go around looking for a better deal. After a few long months of searching he got his wish. A company offered him $20,000 for the same position. You might be asking hmmm doesn’t that contradict with what you said? Well, not really, because I also know of 19 other people who decided to ditch their first deal and ended up with something even less favorable. It’s true that we must take calculated risks in order to succeed, but thru the IT Show I realised that if something is already better that what you originally expected, you should take it instead of naively thinking that there would be a better deal coming your way if you continue searching. There’s a small chance there might be, but the chance of losing your first offer in the process is way, way, way bigger. At the end of the day it still boils down to what you believe in. The $20,000 guy believed that he should be getting paid more, and he went for it, but if a golden opportunity that far surpassed what you believe you deserve is in front of you staring right at your face, is it still worth it? Think about it.

4. Talking to strangers isn’t as scary as I thought.
Have you ever got this urge to say hi or smile at a stranger but you didn’t dare to? I know I did. After giving out flyers and fielding questions to complete strangers, I got a li’ll more comfortable talking to people I’ve never previously interacted with before. On the train to work I smiled at strangers (they smiled back too, which further reinforces my first point/paragraph, and led me to believe that Singaporeans really want to be nice, but they don’t know how to) and it really made my day. I’ve never felt that feeling before to be completely honest. Like I mentioned earlier this IT Show has really removed my mindset that talking to new people is going to be awkward. From now on, as long as anyone looks in my way and if I walked past someone, I’ll make it a point to wish them a “Good morning” or “hi” with a smile. Thanks to this experience, life is going to be much richer and vibrant from now on.

5. Don’t be an asshole.
When I’m thinking and focusing about something I switch off everything around me. During previous editions of such fairs I would unknowingly ignore people who give out flyers or simply brush past them thinking that they are irritating. (I know, I’m such an asshole) Well after standing for most parts of a 10 hour shift and dealing with a minority of difficult customers, I realised that something minute, like a customer accepting my brochure can really help with my confidence. Hence, I feel that everyone should just take a flyer from anyone who offer them to you because it’s really not easy facing not only fatigue but the prying eyes of rude or judgemental people. It might seem like a small act that probably wouldn’t help much, but trust me it offers more encouragement than you think.

6. Not caring about what others think of you.
Personally for me, the most important ingredient for success would be to not care about what others think of you. Some people told me to relax and take a break that kinda thing, but I’m here to give my 100%, do my best and do my job. If I wanna slack, relax, and do nothing I’ll apply to be the CEO of SMRT. Like what I said earlier, a lot of things comes down to what you believe in. If you decide to be active and not give up, follow your plan thru. I wore a blazer and shoes that, well, aren’t meant for standing for extended periods, as I believe that I should take pride in my work and as long as it’s reasonably comfortable I’ll insist on looking smart for work. Thru this 4 days it strengthens my belief that the more people criticise or cast nasty remarks towards your way, the more you should stick to what you believe in. I’d rather feel exhausted at the end of the day knowing I stuck with my ethics than to feel elated being a people pleaser.

There will always be people who say mean words because you are different, and sometimes their minds cannot be changed; but there are many more people who do not judge others based on how they look or where they are from. Those are the people whose words truly matter.

Starfire, Teen Titans

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1 Comment

  1. Pingback: “You’re Too Young To Think About Your Career” | Lhu

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