"All sorts of entertaining" - Elizabeth Seckman

"Michael and his pals make me wish I lived in Adelaide" - Cherdo

"If I had a daughter, I'd send her to Australia to meet him (and marry him)" - Robyn Alana Engel

"An Australian version of me. Only younger. And Talented. And better looking. Okay, nothing like me." - Al Penwasser

"Whom must I fuck or pay to get a quotation at the top of your blog post?" - Janie Junebug

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Fear of Failure Week 8: Initiative

I never told this to anyone, but back in week 4 while I was trying to get in contact with Skip, Joel and Jarrod Walsh, I decided to send that email off to Nathan Davison (mentioned in week 3). I didn't think there could really be any harm, and I figured it would get the ball rolling.

I was so right.

Here's the email I sent:

Hi Mr Davison, my name’s Michael D’Agostino.

I’m writing because I spoke to your on-field announcer during the finals series last month. He said you’re the person to approach for anyone wanting a similar job. I’d love to join your organisation in a hosting/announcing capacity. Obviously not at the expense of anyone else’s job, but maybe as a backup for emergencies or a next-in-line if a current announcer leaves. I’ve included a link to my LinkedIn profile which details in the summary section exactly what my experience is with hosting and performing. I’d love to hear back from you so we can get better acquainted.
Congratulations on running such a hugely successful finals campaign. Despite the result, baseball is certainly gaining recognition in Australia and we have people like you to thank for it.

Thanks for your time,
Michael D’Agostino
I sent that and forgot about it. It was five whole days (the following Monday) before I heard a response. But sure enough, I was casually checking my emails when I saw one from "NDavison Re:Announcer". My heart got lodged for a second at the surprise and I had to unjam it before I could read the email. But eventually, I read this...
Thanks Michael for your email and registration of interest,
I am always interested in speaking to people who have a passion for baseball and take the time and initiative to make contact with me.
It is probably best to sit down at some stage in the coming months perhaps over a coffee and see what might be available.
Let me know when you are available, be it in working hours or out of and we can go from there.

Nathan Davison
Excitement was the main word I could use to describe my demeanour for the rest of the day. But it was tempered with a bit of humility. I was embarrassed at being told I had initiative. It's not something I'd ever seen in myself. I was explaining as much to my Mum that night.
'I don't think that shows initiative, I only emailed him because that guy I spoke to at the game told me he was the guy to talk to.'
'And why were you talking to the guy at the game?' asked Mum innocently.
'Well... I guess I did make the decision to chase him down. But I wouldn't have done it if I wasn't doing this "fear of failure" thing.'
Mum didn't say anything, just kept making dinner with a knowing smile. It allowed my slow brain time to connect the dots.
'Oh, and this experiment is something I did off my own back too! Wow, maybe I do have initiative!'

Unfortunately, I didn't hear back again from Nathan for a long time. That Friday I decided to send a second email confirming that he'd read the first. It was Monday again by the time he got back to me. It basically said
9:30am Wednesday, Cibo on The Parade.
Done. I locked it in. This was happening.
No it wasn't.
Apologies for the late notice, he emailed again the night before our meeting. We've got our MVP dinner coming up and there's far too much to do. Can you do Thursday at 10:30 instead?
I rearranged my schedule and replied, saying it was okay. Thursday came around and I headed over to Norwood. I found a park and was ready to head to the cafe, but I had a feeling... Just call it intuition. I took out my phone and sent Nathan a text message (I'd gotten his number from the receptionist at head office). It read.
Hi Nathan, it's Michael D'Agostino. Just double-checking we're still on for 10:30? I just found a park.
Sure enough, five minutes later:
Hi Michael. Apologies again, I know it might feel like I'm giving you the run around. I'm still packing up from the MVP awards last night so I'm an hour away at least. Brett Marshall is the assistant GM, he's a good person to speak to. I'll give him a call to make sure he's in the office.
Okay as far as results go, there are worse ones than that. I'd at least be speaking to someone and wouldn't have to go home and reschedule again. I made the short walk to the Bite head office and was greeted by a short man with an American accent who was wearing a zipped-up parker and a flat-brim baseball cap. Both had Adelaide Bite insignia on them. He took me upstairs to his office while I asked him how the MVP awards had gone.

'Really good,' he said in a laid-back way. We held it at the SAJC, they've been really good with events. All the staff were very capable and the food was great. Here, have a seat.' He sat me down in a computer chair and he sat in a matching chair in front of me.
'And who won in the end?' I asked, a split second before realising that I didn't know any of the players.
'_______ _______,' he replied.
'Oh sweet,' I said, hoping I'd pulled it off.
'It's kind of like when you look at all the stats in front of you, who else was it going to go to? It was kind of a formality in the end.'
'Yeah, of course,' I agreed and shut my mouth before I could say anything stupid.
'So Davo tells me you'd like to join us as an announcer.'
'Yes, that's right.'
'What appeals to you about it?' He'd adopted that stance and tone of voice that bosses use when they're formally interviewing someone.
'I just love entertaining people. I love any job where one of the requirements is just to be as outgoing and personable as possible.'
'So you've had experience then?'
'Oh definitely. I host quiz nights, I work on radio, I do stand-up comedy...'
'So you're no stranger to public speaking,' he chuckled. 'I'm the opposite, I just feel their eyes boring into me.'
I chuckled back, but I'd become a bit nervous. To be honest, I hadn't expected this to be a proper job interview. The tone of the emails I'd had with Nathan made me think it would just be an informal chat just so they could find out exactly what I want to do for the team and whether they have a spot for it. In fact, having looked at the website, I wasn't even sure there would be a paid position on offer. They seemed to only have about eight staff members and there was a section where you could apply as a volunteer. One of the volunteering positions was in "On-field promotions & entertainment". Luckily I'd decided to wear a shirt and slacks, but I hadn't done any prep on what questions I might be asked.

We continued chatting and as the interview went on, I started to pick up signs that he liked me. Some of the language he used and the way he looked at me indicated that the position of the off-field announcer would become vacant soon and if I was capable, I'd be the one to fill it. He described how he wasn't too happy with the announcer they had now because he used too much jargon and it went over the heads of the casual fans who were there for the first time. Half way through, in walked the on-field announcer who first told me to email Nathan. He started contributing to the interview and I could tell he was interested in me too. He brought up that he also announces for the Adelaide Adrenaline (ice hockey) and that he needs someone to help out there too. Would I be willing to do that?
"Yeah, absolutely!" I said. Obvious question.

The interview finished and Brett told me he'd report back to Nathan and get back in touch with me.
'Can I ask when I can expect a call back by?'
'Oh, definitely within a week,' he said. 'Here, I'll give you my card so you can call me back if you need to.' I took the card and, studying it, said
'So if I don't hear anything by Thursday...'
'Even Wednesday,' he replied encouragingly.
The other guy asked for my phone number too so he could get in touch with me about the Adrenaline. Unlike the Bite, the ice hockey was already in preseason, so I could start there straight away. I walked out of the building feeling very confident that I'd made a good impression. But just to make sure, I grabbed two cartons of Lindt chocolate out of the car and dropped them off with the receptionist. I told her to spread it around the office and to tell Brett that Michael said thanks. Now I just have to wait.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015


For the upcoming A-Z Challenge, I've decided to spend one day answering questions from you. Put your question in the comments section, make it as unique or personal as you like. I'll answer them in April.*

*Try to make the questions about me, I don't know much about anything else :P

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Fear of Failure Week 7: New-Found Power

Back in 2012, I spent some time as a door-to-door salesperson. It was a really hard time of my life, because I was willingly putting myself in situations where people didn't like me and I was nothing to them but an enemy and an inconvenience. People would shut doors on me mid-sentence and I couldn't get why they wouldn't at least just hear me out. Of course I know now, it was because I was interrupting them to try and sell them things they didn't want. But back then it seemed awfully unfair.

Anyway, the reason I bring it up is because during that time I learned many of the principles of how to win someone over. Things like the law of averages (the more people you try and sell to, the more people will buy), the breakdown of communication (70% of any message is conveyed through body language, 30% through tone of voice and 10% through the actual words that are said) and the SEX principle (it stands for Smile, Eye-contact and eXcitement, but I'm sure actual sex would get results too). I've carried these lessons with me theoretically since then, but I haven't been entirely sure how good I am at utilising them. I'm pretty sure when I'm not confident about something - be it my stand-up act, asking someone a favour or handing out my free samples - people read that on me straight away and I lose them.

Well, practicing getting rejected over the past few weeks (especially at the food sampling) has turned up very sudden and exciting results. This past week, over Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I was asked to work at an event at the Festival theater. It was a tour of the Octonauts, a kids' show about a team of animals who cleans and protects the ocean and its creatures. My job was to stand outside in the foyer and ask people to sign up to the mailing list for the promotional company that ran those tours. There were eight shows over the three days and I was told that 20-30 email addresses per show would be a good result. As an incentive to sign up, I was to give out special Octonauts stickers to all the kids.

It took me a bit of time to warm up to it. The two shows on the first day were both only half full and I only managed 39 sign-ups. But as time went on, things seemed to click. On the second day, I started to remember the lessons I learned during food sampling in week 5. I made more of an effort to catch people's attention and I could feel that my body language and tone of voice had just clicked. I was looking people straight in the eye and smiling very warmly and genuinely. I wasn't fidgeting with my hands or giving non-committal statements. And the way I asked them to sign up made a lot of them think "Well, that makes sense." After three shows that day, I'd collected another 75 email addresses.

There's still one rule I haven't touched on though, and it's one that presumably anyone who's ever worked in marketing knows - all of our actions come from either a fear or a desire. I've known that rule for a long time, but I haven't had a clue how to MAKE someone want something or be scared of missing out on something. On the third day, I came in and tweaked the actual words I was saying. I found that using specific words in a specific order reduced the impression that they were being sold on something. And I told the parents why joining the list was in their best interests as well, rather than just a means to getting their kids a sticker. So by the end of the run of shows, my pitch had evolved from

"We're giving away free stickers! All you have to do is sign up to the Lifelike Touring email list and we'll let you know when the Octonauts come back to Adelaide."


"We're giving away free stickers to anyone who joins the mailing list. We run events like this, Peppa Pig, Hi 5 and a bit of Sesame Street too and we can let you know next time any of them come to Adelaide!"

Those two sentences, plus my ability to share jokes and engage with anyone who approached, plus the message and SEX principals that I was improving all the time, led to an extra 150 email addresses after three shows. I was brimming with confidence at that point. I decided to see where else I could take these skills. As one of the shows began, I strutted up to the lady at the door and said 'Do you mind if I go in and watch the show?' She replied,
'Well actually I have got one seat free right by the door here. You can take that one.' I got to see the show for free. Twenty minutes before the next show started, I walked up to another door-girl with a camera. She looked at it suspiciously as I approached.
'Do you mind if I go in and take a quick selfie in front of the stage?'
I went in and with everyone who was already inside watching, I walked within a few meters of the stage and took a snap. It didn't turn out too well, so I turned to a couple of Dads a few meters away.
'Excuse me, do you mind taking a photo of me with the Octonauts sign in the background?'
'So you can tell everyone you're here?' one of them joked.
'Yeah, I want to show all my burly man-friends,' I joked back.
He took the camera, shaking his head and framed up the shot.
'It's hard to get both of you in focus because the sign is all light,' he said. 'Could you jump up on the stage?'
I was a little hesitant about that just because I didn't want to give the little kids ideas. But I quickly sat on the stage's edge and the dad took the best shot he could.

So when it comes to my fear of failure, there are three things that that can split into. The first is simply a fear of spending a lot of time and energy on something only to have it fail. The second is a fear of looking stupid - worrying that I'll do, show or say something that makes people think I'm a moron. The third is a fear of rejection - being dismissed without being given a chance or being disliked by anyone at all. So far, I've made a TON of progress on my fear of rejection. And it's taken me until now to notice. But it's super encouraging and I hope I can keep building on it until the word "no" loses all its gravity.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Fear of Failure Week 6: The Station

For those who don't know, I volunteer some time at a community station called Fresh 92.7 where I'm the producer of a drive-time show. The station's content manager - the guy who's in charge of everything that goes to air, a sort of 2IC to the general manager - is a young maverick genius named Tom. In about a year and a half at the station, he's taken it from a very respectable alternative option in radio to a serious market player threatening to take away the profits of the big commercial stations. As such he is very, very busy. Finding time to meet with him is like finding that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Except the pot of gold doesn't make you terrified of "fucking it up" as Tom would put it.

A few weeks ago, the three of us the were involved in our show approached him to try and book a weekly aircheck - a time to listen back to the last show we did and analyse what went well and not-so-well. He told us to make a list of possible times and send it to him via email. So we went off and did just that. And then I sent him an email with the list of possibilities.

Almost a week went by before I realised I hadn't heard anything back. I should have realised that would happen - he hadn't responded to any of the emails I'd sent in the last few months. I still haven't figured out if it's because he's so busy he forgets to reply or because I'm so low down the pecking order at the station that he always has better things to do. That's not as unreasonable as it sounds, we've both agreed that I'm not a very good fit for the station. The station plays modern EDM music and I talk about how I wish I could see Dire Straits in concert.

I digress. I sent him another email and again, he didn't reply. It was getting important, because we were planning some interesting things to go to air soon and we needed his input. So what to do? I'd heard stories of people who had just bugged someone over and over and over again until the person caved. It was most famously done by Andy Dufresne in the movie The Shawshank Redemption, where he sent a letter to the council every week for a year to get funding for a library. They eventually sent him some tattered books to shut him up so, sensing weakness, he upped it to two letters a week until they snapped paid for the best prison library in the country. Then of course, there's this famous moment...

In a more realistic sense, I recently watched a speech by David S. Goyer, writer of the Dark Knight trilogy and Man of Steel. He talked about being new on the scene, right out of screenwriter's school, and needing to look for an agent. He found a guy who was the youngest person to every reach the position he was in, and figured that anyone who could achieve that must be a hustler and should be representing him. So he called up the agents office. Naturally he got hold of a secretary who said the agent was busy and would get back to him. The next day Goyer called back to see if the agent could talk. He still couldn't so Goyer called back again the next day. And the next day. He repeated this process for 45 business days until on the 46th day, he rang the agency and on the first ring, someone picked up the phone and yelled "Who the fuck are you and why do you keep bothering my secretary?!" Unfazed, Goyer politely said "Hello, my name is David S Goyer. I'm a new screenwriter and I'm going places. I'd love it if you could take a look at something I've been working on recently." "Whatever kid," the agent replied. "Send it through, I'll give you some feedback in three weeks.

One week later, Goyer called back again to check on the agent's progress. Naturally he hadn't read it. So he called back the next day, and the next day, and then finally after three weeks, the agent picked up the phone again and said "Yeah I read it... It's pretty good. Would you like some work?" Later down the track, the agent revealed that he would have picked Goyer up anyway, even if the script was awful. He just admired the way Goyer went about it.

So I decided to take the relentless barrage approach. Starting last week, I sent Tom the same email every day. It had the same subject line and the message was just copied and pasted from the previous message in my "sent" folder. When this week pulled around and I still hadn't heard anything, I upped it to two emails a day. Then on Wednesday, I saw an email which contained two glorious sentences:

Tuesday afternoon is best for me. I'll send you all a calendar invite.

It worked! I messaged the other two members of the team and they cheered as well. I felt like I'd achieved something small, but significant.

Back in week 4, I began the process of seeing if I could get some sort of announcing job for a sports team. It kind of fizzled out for a bit, so this week I tried to reignite it. I never heard back from Jarrod Walsh, even after I sent him a direct invite on LinkedIn. So I figured for now that pathway was dormant. You may also remember that I sent a message on Facebook to my friend Joel from the station, who does the MC work for the Sydney Swans. He asked me when I'm in the radio station next, and then I never heard back from him after that. That's where I set my next target.

I figured that just hounding him on Facebook wouldn't be that effective this time, so what I did was waited for a time when I knew he'd be at Fresh. Friday morning between 9 & 12. I caught the bus into town and came to see him personally. It was the first time I'd been to the station any day outside Monday for months and since I hadn't been in this particular Monday (public holiday) there were people there that I felt like I barely recognised - Joel being one of them. Nevertheless, when he saw me he greeted me with the grand, warm, sly greeting he always has.

'Michael! Thanks for the opportunity!' he said with a grin.
'That okay, you deserve it. You're going places around here,' I replied with an equivalent grin. I followed him into the studio where he was broadcasting his show.
'To what to we owe the pleasure?' He asked, taking a seat.
'Well, I came to surprise you. I wanted to ask you about applying for announcing, MCing jobs. Where I could apply, what the best way to apply is, all that... I mean, do you need to have some profile already?'
'Well of course, that helps,' he replied. Joel burst into the national spotlight in the mid-2000s after appearing in the Australian version of Big Brother. He's one of a long list of C & D-list celebrities that I occasionally try and namedrop to no avail. I'll never forget the time I bumped into a friend from stand-up that I don't see often and he asked me what I'd been up to.

"I've been producing a breakfast show at Fresh 92.7. I'm working with Jay Bangers."
"Oh, you don't know him... He's a personality in South Australia. He's on TV with Cosi."
"With who?"
"You know... Cosi. He's been on Triple M and SAFM and he's got that show now South Aussie with Cosi."
"Nup, don't know him." There was an awkward pause. "So you're in radio huh? How'd you get into that?"
"Oh I did a course at the Australian Radio School with Sean Craig Murphy."

'You just need a really good resume and a showreel,' he said. He turned to his laptop and opened up what had to be the most professional-looking resume I'd ever seen. It had his name plastered in red over a grey margin, with a handsome photo at the top of him in a suit holding a microphone. Then of course underneath was all his MCing experience, a couple of pages full.
'Wow, that looks really good! I exclaimed. Do you think you could email that to me so I can use it as a guide?'
'Absolutely mate.'
'And you mentioned a showreel. You haven't done any acting have you?'
'Well yes a bit, but that's a different kind of showreel.' He went back to his computer and opened up another file. A video opened up which showed a montage of him hosting events. Then the scene changed to a shot of Joel sitting behind one of the microphones at Fresh doing a talk break.
"A very good morning to you, and what a morning it is. Our might Adelaide Crows got up against the Bulldogs last night and- oh, hold on..." He stopped and turned to the camera. "Hi, I'm Joel Scalzi. You might remember me from something I did a while back let's revisit that for a moment." Cut to a shot of a much younger Joel:
"Big Brother, sometimes I've been going out to the kitchen late at night and... stealing Salada biscuits. It's less about the taste... and more about the thrill of getting caught. Tell me Big Brother, does this make me a bad housemate? Or just an adrenaline junkie? I did plan to shake things up while I was here," and his face cracked into a big cheeky grin. Modern-day Joel reappeared.
"But that was then. This is now." And the video went back to a montage of photos and videos from all his MCing jobs. He was wearing all sorts of outfits from team colours to suits to just wearing underwear and a scarfe. In most of the shots there was all sorts of branding visible behind him. Over the top was a soundtrack that I recognised as something in the charts at the moment. It was really engaging to watch and I had nothing like that to give. So that's what I have to do now. I'll film myself hosting my quiz nights to get the ball rolling, then I could add photos of performances I've done, stand-up and otherwise. Work on getting a few more little hosting jobs to get my experience up and I might have something worth showing.

'Thanks so much man, that really helps,' I said.
'No worries mate. I'll email that resume to you.'
'Thanks! I'll let you get back to doing your show.'
'Yeah, I'd probably better do that.'
I left feeling strangely buoyed, despite the fact that the goal posts had just been shifted almost out of view. It was probably to do with how willing Joel was to help. It was a bit of a risk to catch the bus into town and drop in on him while he was working. He could have just said "Look mate, I'm a bit busy now. Can you come back another time?" But he actually put his show on hold for a few minutes to help me out. I was thinking about it as I was walking out. I also thought about the email from Tom. They'd been a couple of really good wins. I decided on the spot to go for one more. I changed direction and headed upstairs to the office of Tarlia our events co-ordinator.

'Hey Tarlia, how are you?'
"I'm great! Busy as always, but I feel like I'm getting on top of it now.'
'That's such a good feeling isn't it?'
'Yes, you have no idea.'
'Well, I'm glad I came now then... Do you have room for an extra person on the Street Team?'
'Yeah actually I do.'
'Oh... That was easy.'
'Two people have just told me they're leaving. I'll be able to put you in at the end of April. I'll send you an email with all the T&Cs.'
'Alright, well... Thanks!'

Three for three ;)

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Fear of Failure Week 5: Creep

For those who don't know, mid-February to mid-March is Adelaide Fringe Festival time. It's by far the busiest time of year for many of the people I know, including myself. I've been taking part in a lot of improv stuff during the festival, dedicating a lot of my time there. I've also been rehearsing for a new run of kids' theater shows starting later this month, and the hours I've been getting at work has been picking up. Add to that my weekly pub quiz and some other quizzes I've been guest-hosting, and the fact that practically every spare night I've had has been spent supporting friends who have their own Fringe shows, and it's meant my little rejection-therapy project has taken a backseat for now. But rest assured, I don't come tonight empty-handed. There was one thing that tested my resolve this week.

One of my many jobs involves handing out food samples in grocery stores. It's an alright job, but only in certain situations. The company's biggest client is Lindt chocolate, which is naturally a very popular product. I just have to walk around a store for four hours at a time, dressed in a chef outfit and saying "Would you like some Lindt chocolate?" over 500 times. It's when I do any other product that it gets tough. I don't know if it's just Adelaide, but people tend to be very closed-off here. I'll be standing behind a table with a tray full of small cups of yoghurt in front of me. I'll try and smile at passers-by and they'll avoid eye-contact with me. I'll say hi to someone and they'll reply with "No thanks." I've literally seen people take turns down different aisles to avoid passing me. It makes it hard for me because I don't want people seeing me get rejected by scores of people for no reason and feel pity or embarrassment for me. So I only actually offer people a sample if they look directly at me or my table and slow down.

I did a shift sampling yoghurt on Wednesday. It was a quiet store to begin with, but add to that the fact I'd been put in a place where customers could see me a mile off, it meant that for four hours I was just standing there half asleep. I handed out 12 samples in those four hours. So the next day I decided I needed to be more proactive. I went to a new shift, sampling the same yoghurt again, and decided to just catch people's attention as much as I could. That old trope of "You'll never see them again" came in handy this time. I figured anyone who sees me and feels embarrassed for me will only do so for about a minute. Then the stuff they actually care about will seep back in and I won't even be a distant memory. So I grabbed the attention of anyone I could, offering them a sample. Naturally most of them said no, but a surprising amount said yes. I didn't end up feeling embarrassed at all and we actually sold out of the yoghurt before my shift even finished. Doing another shift that afternoon, the same thing happened. All stock sold out, a-million-and-one samples served... I was full of confidence. The next day I went into a new store to sample the product again... Not so successful. nobody wanted to try it and we didn't end up selling much at all. But I kept on catching people's attention, even if I could tell by their face that they weren't interested. And I didn't feel embarrassed at all.

You may have noticed that the title of this post has nothing to do with food sampling. There was one more thing that happened this week... But I just don't feel right talking about it. It brings me back to the whole girl situation and it paints me in a light that isn't very flattering. I hope it's enough to say that while two weeks ago I mentioned that I'd be more careful about asking out friends, I've now realised that propositioning strangers probably isn't an option either. I think this is all you need to know.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Powerful Statement

Help me out here... There's something that often happens in relationships that I just don't know how I feel about. It gives me very conflicting reactions every time I hear it. It's just one sentence. Not even that, it's just half a sentence. Yet it's one of the most powerful things that can happen in a committed relationship. I've only ever heard it said by girls, but I'd be interested to know if any males have said it too. The sentence is this:

"I don't think I can continue to be with you if..."

It's been said for a large number of reasons. One partner will say to another that if they believe a certain thing or behave a certain way, they'll have to end it. I'm very conflicted about that idea, because on one hand, we've all got the right to break up with people for whatever reason we wish. yet on the other hand, it sounds like a form of emotional blackmail. A declaration of "If you don't change who you are, I'm leaving."

It may depend on the reason it's being said. I've had conversations with people who have used that sentence before. In those cases, their partners were:
  • Watching pornography.
  • Play-fighting with the kids in their family.
  • Not wanting to go to University and just work hospitality jobs to get by.
  • Constantly describing their exes and how great they were.
  • In the case of a long-distance relationship, refusing to spend the money and time to come and see them and insisting that they always be the one to do it.
I think the line should be drawn at the separation of actions and beliefs. When the concern is over an action such as the last two examples above, the person should be congratulated for making a stand and not just taking it. It's when it's done over a difference in beliefs that it gets murky. If one partner believes pornography is wrong and the other doesn't, is the first partner allowed to say "Please change or I'm leaving"? Is it a refusal to sacrifice who you are for the sake of a loved one? Or a refusal to allow opposing viewpoints into your life?

With the play-fighting scenario, two people were in a committed relationship that they were thinking would lead to marriage and kids. But when partner one saw partner two play-fighting, that brought up the issue of how they wanted their own kids raised.
"I don't want our kids to be brought up fighting like that."
"It's what kids do, it's natural."
"Well if you want your kids to be like that, I'm not sure I want to be a part of it."
Perfectly reasonable or mean and unfair? Help me out with this one guys.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Fear of Failure Week 4: Moving Forward and Looking Back

So last week I decided to make some sort of attempt at becoming an on-field announcer for a sports team. I sat down on Monday and thought about how best to do it. Surely there was something better I could do than to just say "Hi Mr Davidson, can you give me a job?" I decided to consult people I knew for advice. First on the list was my friend Skip, who works for the the NBL's Adelaide 36ers. I sent him a text message...

"Hey Skip :) I'm going to try and apply for the type of job you do, but in other sports. I'd love to pick your brain on where/how I should apply?"
"Hey mate, I just fell into it. Got asked to fill in at the last moment and it went from there."
"Of course, I should have seen that coming :P"
"I guess your best bet would be to just write to the teams themselves. What kind of software do you use?"
"Um, what do you mean by software?"
"What do you think I do at the 36ers?"
"Haha no mate. I look after the music and audio."
"Jarrod Walsh is our on-court announcer. He also does Adelaide United, Port Power, Adelaide Strikers and others."
I'd heard of him. Most people know him as a radio announcer for Nova 91.9. He sounded like the perfect person to ask for advice, although he seemed to have all the jobs taken already.
"Do you think you could ask him if it's okay for me to contact him by email or phone?"
I didn't get a reply to that. Sometimes that happens with Skip, I wasn't too upset over it. What I did get upset about was an email I received later that night...

I'd recently been accepted into a company that runs birthday parties for kids. I'd been very proud of myself for getting in, because initially I'd been told that they weren't really looking for new staff. They agreed to look at my resume anyway, so I wrote a new one up and sent it to them that afternoon. I got a call the next day asking me for an interview. I impressed enough at the interview that they asked me to attend an observation shift, where I did the apparently-rare thing of jumping straight into a dinosaur costume and joining in on all the games. The very next day they called me back to ask if I wanted to start training there properly.

That was a week ago. Then on Monday I got this email. It said:
"Unfortunately, we're unable to keep training you at this time. Looking ahead, we we just don't have enough boys' parties to offer you any work. Thank you for your time and if you send us your details, we'll pay you for the shift you've already done."

It was very disappointing, even though I'd been warned that this might happen from the outset. Parents don't like having men host girls' birthday parties, which means I would have been limited to just the boys' ones. And clearly, their clientele are mostly girls. It was strange seeing all the other employees marvel that there was a male in their midst. But anyway, it meant I was down a job and had to work extra hard to get a new one back. I came up with a new plan on Tuesday.

At Fresh - the radio station where I volunteer - I have a friend named Joel. He's the on-field announcer for the Sydney Swans - an incredible achievement considering that there are 4 million people in Sydney and Joel isn't one of them. They fly him in every second week to do the job. I sent him a Facebook message and sat back, eating a sandwich while I waited for a response. In the end I only had to wait for a day ;)
"When are you in the station next?" He said.
"Monday afternoon."
"I'll see you then."

Well... I guess that's that for now. I went to work in Rundle Mall, handing out Lindt chocolate to Woolworths customers. Yep, that's a job I have. I have to dress up in a big chef outfit and carry around blocks of chocolate on a tray.

I was in unusually high spirits that day, despite the setbacks I'd been having. I posted a picture of myself in the chef outfit on Facebook and told anyone who was in the area to come and visit. People did come and it made me even brighter. That's when I met Belinda. Belinda was a tall girl in a very smart-looking red shirt and black pants. Her hair black hair fell in neat waves onto her shoulders and she carried herself with the air of a successful business professional. I handed her a piece of chocolate with the usual friendly grin and she started chatting to me as she ate.

'So this is what you do for a living is it?'
'You must love it.'
'Sure do.'
'How many hours do you do this for?'
'I've got four shifts this week.'
'The reason I ask is... Well, are you looking for a bit of extra money?'
The pain of the kids party place was still fresh in my mind.
'I am...' I said more seriously.
'Do you drink much coffee?'
The answer was no. I used to have it once a week when I had to get up at 4am to produce a breakfast radio show. Nowadays I just drink tea. I also thought of a time, very on in my post-high school working life, where I attempted to sell a new range of pod-coffee machines. I lasted a month, then got an email saying the campaign had been discontinued. I went back to the store the next weekend to find another girl doing that same job.

But on the other hand... I don't really like letting opportunities just slip by.
'Yeah, occasionally,' was my reply.
'Well, I've been selling this coffee for a while and it's helped me set up a passive income, so I don't even have to work for my pay any more. Tell you what, I'll give you a couple of samples of the coffee and give you a call tomorrow and see what you think. We can take it from there.'
She reached into a satchel that hung from her should and produced two brown sachets with the words "Organo Gold" printed on them.

Right now, I expect about three people to burst into laughter. I had an amusing experience with this exact brand a year ago, back when this blog only had three readers. I knew then that nothing would come of this meeting but of course, not wanting to look stupid, I thanked her, gave her my number and went back to work.

That night I saw Skip in person. He came to help me set up a quiz night in a venue I hadn't done in ages. I still hadn't gotten a reply from my last text, so I decided to put plan Don't-Give-Up into action.
'Hey Skip, did you um... get my text about getting in touch with Jarrod Walsh?'
'I did...' Skip's face dropped a little. He clearly wasn't keen to bother his friend. 'I think your best bet is to contact him on Twitter. He's a good guy, he'll reply.'
I wasn't so sure about that, but that was the best I was going to get. Being too insistent was going to put a strain on the friendship.

I sent the Tweet the next day. It said
"Hey Jarrod, I'm a friend of @Skip. Could I ask you for advice on becoming an announcer? :)"
No response, just as I feared. This was getting difficult. Not only that, I still had to take the call from Belinda. She called me at three o'clock that afternoon.

'Did you try the coffee?' she asked.
'I did.'
'What did you think?'
'It's good! Very strong. Left me buzzing for the rest of the night.'
'Is that good?'
'Um... yes.'
'Well I think the next step is to find out a bit about each other. You don't want to go into business with someone you don't know.'
'Fair enough.'
We crammed our whole lives into the next 10 minutes of conversation.
'Well Michael, it seems that you've found your passion in life and that's really impressive.'
'Thanks!' I said grinning.
'I'm definitely happy to work with you, if you're interested in working with me?'
'Well, the thing is, I'm still not sure exactly what my role would be here.' All I'd ever heard about was how amazing the product is and how rich people have gotten off of it. No one had ever talked about how I'm meant to actually sell the stuff.
'Okay, here's what I'll do. I'll link you to a video which explains it all in better detail. Then I'll call you again tomorrow and get a final answer from you.'
'Sounds fair, hear from you then.'

On Friday I turned my attention back to the announcing gig. Jarrod still hadn't replied to me on Twitter, so I had to look for other ways in. A quick search on Google led me to his LinkedIn account. I'd made a LinkedIn account ages ago, but I hadn't actually used it and it was sitting there neglected with vines growing through it and litter around the place. I spent the day making it look pretty and respectable so that when I got in touch with Jarrod, he'd take me a little more seriously. At three o'clock, I realized in a panic that Belinda would be calling back soon and I hadn't watched the video. So I saved my progress and visited the link she sent me.

The video was an interview with Holton Buggs, the man credited with making the brand what it is today. He explained why he was so passionate about his company and how well the people who work there are rewarded. Then at last he got to the part I was looking for - he explained exactly how it works in a presentation he called "Test-driving the business".

'Imagine you started working for the company,' he said to the interviewer. 'Do you think that in 30 days, you could convince just 10 of your friends and family members to start drinking Organo Gold?'
'Yes, I do,' replied the interviewer.
'Okay, so those are your first 10 customers. Whenever they need their coffee, they'll order it from you, which based on average consumption figures, will give you an extra $300 per month, just after your first month. Now the next step is, we've established how easy it is to convert 10 people. What if those 10 people became distributors and converted 10 people of their own? You would get a percentage of those sales, bringing you up to an impressive $3000 per month extra in your pocket. Now imagine if all those 100 people converted an extra 10 each? You can see how it multiplies until you get quite a substantial figure.'
'Wow, I'm convinced,' said the interviewer, and she seemed to be genuinely intrigued. I wasn't so convinced. I was still stuck at the first step - did I think I could convince 10 people to change coffee brand? No I didn't. I would feel soulless trying to sell something that I don't use myself in order to make money off of them. When Belinda called back an hour later, my decision was made.

'Well, that's a shame to hear Michael,' she said. 'Do you mind if I keep your number and get back in touch with you a few months down the track to see if you're in a different place?'
'Absolutely,' I said. 'I look forward to it.' I genuinely did. I still wasn't convinced it was a good idea for now, but Belinda had done well in showing me it had potential. This may not be the last we've heard from Organo Gold.

That left one final order of business. On Saturday I finished cleaning up my LinkedIn profile and it's ready to go. I sent a request to Skip to introduce me to Jarrod, because I felt I could bother him one last time. Let's see how this pans out.
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