I have spent 27 years as Chief Marketing Officer at Walter E Smithe Furniture. I love it because it is really two, two, two jobs in one. I spend my morning wearing a Director of Sales Hat. I work with a great team of recruiters, trainers, store managers and field managers to bring our best 200 Interior Designers to the game each day.
After lunch, I head to my marketing office where my Ad team writes and produces TV, print, and digital ads, writes strategy and copy, and places media buys.
All in all, it’s one very interesting day after another.
My first real-world job:
I don't know if Ice Cream Man counts as a real job, so I would have to say that being a Furniture Salesman on commission was my first real job. I learned about the power of personal "relationship" selling, about living on a commission check, and about putting my client's experience front-and-center.
As the furniture company grew, we had a need to add staff, so I took on the role of Sales Trainer. Knowing how to sell and teaching others to sell are 2 different animals entirely. To this day, I spend time at Smithe Furniture University each week with new Smithe designers.
I have managed to find happiness, challenge, and fun in my work. As far as bragging, we have won back-to-back Emmy awards, and over a dozen Telly awards (the Academy Awards for TV ads).
My brothers and I took a single furniture store and grew it into eleven. We grew one million in annual sales and took it over one hundred million in a year.
Best of all, we have hundreds of employees who feel pride and satisfaction in their work. They are each masters of their own discipline.
My career is driven by:
A fire in my belly to sell furniture, even when times are tough out there.
My 3 pieces of advice for students:
Don't think someone is an expert just because they have grey hair.
Take a job at any level in the area you love to get the ball rolling.
Do you least favorite assignment first, and then the rest of your homework is a piece of cake.