I landed a job at Merrill Lynch by selling Cutco cutlery as a community college student.
Seriously. While other kids were hanging out at the beach or having fun with no real responsibility other than homework, I was criss-crossing all across San Diego selling knives between classes and on the weekends.
Sales was my lifeline. As the daughter of a single mother providing for five kids, I had to contribute financially if I wanted to eat, let alone create a better future for myself. When you’re hungry, there’s no time for rumination—you get out there and make things happen.
But, truthfully, I loved it! It wasn’t just a job—I believed in Cutco. (I mean, have you seen how easily their kitchen shears cut through a penny?) Plus, sales was the perfect excuse to get out of the house and talk to people. As a guest in clients’ homes, I was inspired by how they crafted their lives in ways I didn’t know were possible.
On one particular evening, I gave my usual, passionate pitch in a beautiful mansion in San Diego. As the wife was signing the order form for a new set of knives, the husband mentioned that he was the Director of Latin American Sales for Merrill Lynch. Without thinking, I said, “I’ve always wanted an internship at Merrill Lynch!”
He looked me dead in the eyes and said, “Look, I don’t typically give internships to community college students. But based on what I saw tonight, clearly you could sell sand in the desert. If you’re serious, come see me Monday morning.” And he handed me his card.
When I walked into his office that Monday, I realized I had sold knives to, no kidding, 90 percent of the salesmen’s wives.
“Momento…is that the knife girl? She works here now? No me digas!”
They were shocked, but they couldn’t deny I was fluent in sales when I’d already managed to close them.