Chapter Twenty-One

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At 7:00 a.m., my alarm rang. I got up and made myself some breakfast - raspberry jam on white toast with a glass of orange juice. After I ate, I had a quick shower, put on my work uniform, threw on a hoody, and jogged to work.  

When I arrived, all the lights were off except for the lights in the back office. I banged on the cage door a few times until Marc emerged from the back with his usual grande Starbucks coffee. 

"Good morning."  

"Hey, Marc, how's it going?" 

"I'm alive, so I can't complain." 

"Good to hear." 

Marc unlocked the gate and let me in. "So today is the big day, are you ready to host your first sales seminar?" he asked, as we walked into the back room. 

"You bet," I replied. 

"So how are you adjusting to the new role so far?"  

I didn't really have an answer for him. It had only been a few weeks since my promotion and so far I was doing what I had always done. Each day I went into work and sold shoes and clothing. There was no adjustment. "Uh, well, you know, so far so good," I said tentatively. 

"So what aspects of this new role do you find most challenging?" 

"To be honest with you, Marc, I don't really feel like I have fully embraced the new role yet. I guess the hardest part for me is to make that transition from being just a regular sales associate to a manager."  

"Do you know why I promoted you?" 

"I'm guessing it had something to do with my performance." 

"Yes, in some respects that's true, but a lot of guys on our team have good performance. I promoted you because you're not just a regular sales associate." 

"What do you mean?" 

"You're a natural born leader. You just have to know and own the fact this is what you were born to do. You just have to own it, you know?"  

I nodded in agreement, but I had no idea what 'owning it' entailed.  

"So if you see someone not doing what they're supposed to be doing, get on them, say 'hey, go fix your section', or 'go talk to those people'. You're in charge and you have to let them know that. This is very important. If an employee doesn't believe you should be in the position you're in, then they will lose respect for you and it will become incredibly difficult to manage them."  

"Okay, so what you're saying is that if I don't act managerial, then the employees won't take me seriously as a manager, and then they will not work hard for me?" 

"Exactly. But you also don't want to be a jerk about it because then nobody will want to work for you either. There's a fine balance, like everything in life." 

I sat there a moment and pondered this wisdom. 

"So I recommend you take charge and be a little more assertive, but take baby steps, you don't want to come in here one day and whip everyone into shape." 

"Okay." 

"Don't worry, you'll get there." 

Throughout the day I was getting into the routine of 'owning it'. I told the cashiers if they needed anything, to come get me first. I also observed the staff when they dealt with clients and gave them a few pointers or words of encouragement. Other than that, it was a pretty slow day, so I instructed everyone to restock shelves and tidy the store.  

After closing, we all stayed behind for our team meeting. Marc went over a few administrative details and Jamie, the assistant manager, talked about some of the new products that were coming out. When it was my turn, I stood up and faced my audience. 

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