Not every company has the same ideas when it comes to office decor … or decorum
Today was my first long day at JKL Sales Corporation. Long as in almost 12 hours. One thing I’ve figured out already is that even though the office is only a few more Expressway exits further than ABC Insurance’s offices had been, this translates into at least 20 additional minutes of driving time. Traffic seems to slow down markedly at Exit 62 and doesn’t begin to clear until about Exit 56. Following the morning meeting, a bit shorter than usual today, I headed off to the business location of my group’s main customer for some technical product training, a location that coincidentally was not far from ABC Insurance’s office. When I say “customer” I mean in the sense that it is this business’s products and/or services which my group markets. This training session lasted about two hours, in a conference room that was more than a little overcrowded. There would have been enough room if just the people from my group were in attendance, but our counterparts from the Nassau County office (technically a separate company) were there too. Despite the crowding I found the training quite informative. It involved a product and/or service of which I had little prior knowledge, so learning something new was interesting.
In the early afternoon my manager and I made the relatively short trip to the day’s work location. As this was my first day of field training I didn’t participate in any sales or marketing activities, but instead watched what the manager did. Learning about these activities in the office for the last two days was one thing, but to actually see them in action was much more informative. Tomorrow I’ll be participating myself, under the manager’s supervision, and I’m eager to start. (Note: sorry about being rather cryptic, but I can’t give more details without risking loss of anonymity.) We worked until about 7:30, which made this just about an 11-hour day for me. That’s what weekdays are going to be like, in addition to about five hours on Saturdays.
It occurred to me this morning just how sharp the contrast between the facilities and atmosphere of XYZ Insurance (where I spent six months last year) and JKL Sales really are. ABC Insurance was somewhere in the middle. At XYZ Insurance – heck, it’s been long enough, I’ll come out and say that it was New York Life – the offices in Melville were plush. All deep carpeting, wood-paneled walls, nice furniture. About what you’d see in the lobby of a 5-star hotel. Everyone was well-dressed, New York Life not having gotten onto the “business casual” bandwagon, and the overall level of decorum was high. No one ever would play a radio at his or her desk loudly enough for anyone else to hear, for example. The whole atmosphere was that of a highly esteemed professional corporation providing insurance and financial services to an upscale client base, and last but not least I would guess that the average age of the agents and staff members was at least 40.
JKL Sales Corporation is about as different as one could imagine. It operates out of some sparsely furnished rooms in an industrial park, sparsely furnished even if one discounts the (presumably intentional) lack of chairs in the meeting room. There’s always loud music playing. The energy level is not just high, but bouncing-off-the-walls high, and as I’ve noted the workers are very young. I really mean that, the average age is probably no more than 25. People dress at different levels, but it’s much more casual than at New York Life. Despite all this, I believe that there’s some quite decent money to be made, far more than at New York Life and its odious “sell to people you know” philosophy. “Relationship marketing” and “networking” (pardon the short delay while I vomit) simply have no application to what we do here. Besides, I actually think I prefer working with enthusiastic 25-year-olds as opposed to dour middle-aged types.
Postscript: Remember how I said that I’ve gotten some calls and e-mails from employers who saw my resume on Careerbuilder and now want to offer me sales jobs? I’ve actually gotten two such calls from (drumroll please) … New York Life. Trust me – my chances of ever wanting to go back there are far below zero!