Leaders and Mentors in Retail?

Every Christmas when I’m wrapping gifts to put under the tree I can’t help but remember the first job I ever had.

I suppose because I was working for a couple of Japanese owners in their retail Asian Import store back in Alabama and I wrapped a lot of Christmas gifts. It never fails to take me back to that moment in time.

I was fifteen and I.knew.nothing.

I was scared to death to even walk up and greet the customers and I couldn’t wrap a package if my life depended on it. This particular job and my mentor owners would be something that would help me throughout my career and life, I just didn’t know it then.

I learned to interact and come out of my “somewhat introvert” shell. I learned to wrap gits like a super-sonic ninja and they were (and had to be) perfect before the customer left the store with their gift.

It was here where I first did any modeling. (I was a still model in the window wearing kimonos) and this would later be added to my resume for the modeling I did in my twenties.

I even had to have my appearance (clothes, hair and makeup) approved by the owner or she would send me straight into the bathroom for a redo. It was insane, or so I thought at the time.

I was this pissy kid who thought “how dare she try to tell me how to dress.” But I would give in and do it. And it paid off.

I had no idea that it was preparing me for so many things for the future. I worked there until I was 18 and moved away.

This training was crucial in preparing me for the real world of work and for the 10 years I spent traveling as a professional singer and musician.  This couple would periodically take all of the employees out to the local Japanese restaurant and were the ones who taught me how to eat with chop sticks – and that was way cool.

I always wanted to be able to tell my boss how grateful I was for taking me in and grooming me for life.

I had that wonderful opportunity a few years back at a local convention we both were participating in. She was so excited to see me, and to be able to tell me in her own words how proud she was of me for doing so well in my life and career. In fact, she quoted every newspaper article that had talked of me and my success with my music and with my sales career. She acted as if I was some sort of celebrity.

It made my day. I finally had the chance to thank her and that meant the world to me.

Sometimes when we are experiencing difficulty we can’t see past it and instead think we’ve just been given a raw deal.  Often we cut and run instead of sticking with it. I know I’ve done my share of that. Perhaps if we would buckle down, persevere, and determine to get past it we would come through it all having matured.

We never know what life may be trying to teach us.

Photo Credit: WanShop

Leave a comment Posted in Culture, Difficulty at Work, Leadership, The School of Hard Knox Tagged difficult working environments, hard asses, leaders, , life coach, life preparation, mentors, preparing for a career, preparing for life, , susan avello, , when life is difficult, When work is difficult, working in retail, working with hard asses