When I was in 5th grade, I lived with my dad who was addicted to cocaine. It happened to be one of the most intense times of my father’s life as it relates to addiction and I was exposed to all of it. We were on public assistance and from time to time my dad would go on what we would call a drug binge. He would be gone several days at a time sometimes and I wake up after crying myself to sleep to prepare myself for school. I’ve learned that much of my life today was shaped by this particular time in my life and I have learned to view this time in my life as extremely positive. It has also built the framework for how I have tried to approach my career in sales, business development, and customer service.

During this difficult time in my father’s life, there was a drug dealer that lived around the corner from us that supplied the drugs to my father and other users that would be in our home. What was so interesting was that this drug dealer drove a really nice blue Cadillac with chrome and gold rims, and had a really nice sound system in it. In fact, you could hear him coming from miles away. I don’t know if I saw him as successful or unsuccessful at that age. I was probably too overwhelmed at the time to even think about what I thought of him. As I’ve gotten older, I realize he’s had a significant impact on me as a professional.

He was the first image I saw as a sales professional. He had a sales route, product, and clients to serve in the community. And he had it all, nice cars, nice clothes, nice homes, he even had a nice sound system!!! The most important part, lol. He also had loyal clients. And whether he cared or not, his product was destroying hundreds, if not thousands of lives in the process.

He became what I didn’t want to be remembered as.

You see as a young kid in 5th grade, I suffered on the other side of every sale he made that added more zeros to his check book. Every sale he made eroded my father’s self-confidence and belief in himself. He was in the business of win-lose relationships. An experience in my life that I have never forgotten.

As I’ve grown as a sales professional, I’ve tried to do my best to sell and service my clients in a way that is a win-win for all parties involved. At the end of the day, the client must be taken care of along with the companies that provide the solution, and myself as the person that supports the account.

Today I am grateful for what the drug dealer taught be about sales and success. Success is about win-win partnerships and relationships, not about getting nice cars, homes, and additional zeros to your bank account at the expense of the client relationship. I am forever grateful to the authors, sales professionals, and leaders that have reached the pinnacle of economic success in sales by doing it the right way. For through their mentorship, I am able to maintain strong relationships with clients and advocates while reaping the rewards of building my own business.