Resilience in Business Endeavors
On April 28, 2014, winner of The Apprentice Season 1, Bill Rancic, took the stage at an annual sales training conference in Chicago and spoke to over 700 college students across the country. This event, organized by Campus Special (Acquired by Chegg, Inc.), marked the beginning of a 13-week summer internship where interns were responsible for selling advertising products and services to business owners around their campuses. In the short 90 minutes he had with the young, enthusiastic interns, Rancic shared his experience competing in The Apprentice and what led him to emerging as the winner.
“Trump gives us our first task, and it was to sell lemonade in the middle of New York City…But then the tasks got larger and more complicated, and you start to see the winners separate themselves from the losers. The sleep deprivation started kicking in, and the people who really wanted it were the ones fighting tooth and nail, willing to do what the other people wouldn’t. One by one by one, I see my competition falling by the wayside. Close to the end, some people were volunteering to go home because they weren’t willing to do what it takes to win…”
Sitting in the audience that day, I knew I wasn’t the only one riding on the wave of emotions, from excitement to anxiousness. I wondered if I possessed the tenacity and intelligence to excel simply complete 13 weeks of outside sales responsibilities. After 4 days of training in Chicago, I returned to Cincinnati with 4 other interns from UC. Each of us was given the individual goal of selling at least $25,000 of revenue in 13 weeks.
“I can assure you this won’t be easy. But I can tell you it will be worth it. The truth is, when things get hard, everyone thinks about quitting, regularly, but don’t ever do it.”
~ Chau Nguyen, Campus Special President & CEO
The internship proved to be more challenging than we imagined, and after week 1, two of my teammates quit. Rejections, mean remarks, yelling, and broken promises, all part and parcel of doing sales, yes, that’s what we told ourselves. Waking up with a positive attitude everyday however, became increasingly difficult to do. After week 5, my closest friend in the internship resigned. It made me realize how much of a toll this experience was taking on my finances, but that was an easy excuse. I wanted to quit, and I wanted to quit badly. Yet the desire to prove to myself that I could do it, that I’m made of much more was tugging at me. I knew quitting was easy but unfulfilling.
“Today I will do what others won’t, so that tomorrow
I can accomplish what others can’t.”
~ Chau Nguyen
Over the 13 weeks, I learned to not find excuses, to not blame the poor weather, and to make just one more business call after what I wanted to be the last one for the day. “Don’t ever quit” may not be the most positive advice you can give to a person, but it sure works. Every individual will find what speaks to him or her most – his or her own story or some personal experience – to fuel the motivation for not quitting, and to build the ability to be resilient.
In her exploration of the topic on resilience, Journalist Diane Coutu learns how Dean Becker, president and CEO of Adaptiv Learning Systems defines this term. “More than education, more than experience, more than training, a person’s level of resilience will determine who succeeds and who fails. That’s true in the cancer ward, it’s true in the Olympics, and it’s true in the boardroom.”
We will no doubt, experience setbacks at some point in our careers or personal life. A company needs a resilient workforce to withstand any outside pressure and to successfully adapt to changes in the business environment. We often place emphasis on natural talent and intelligence but beyond talent, one needs hard work. And beyond hard work, one needs resilience.
If you’re wondering what happened with my internship, I’m happy to share that with my only teammate left, Elaine and I successfully completed the 13-week experience and I hit my goal of $25,000. To look back and to know that I pressed on was truly the most rewarding aspect of my summer last year. And I know if I can do it, anyone can do it!