Time and Place are Critical to Career Success. When I joined Procter & Gamble, I had planned on the same career progress that I had made in the Navy. I worked hard while I was in the Navy. The Navy promoted me twice ahead of time. I progressed from ensign to lieutenant junior grade to lieutenant in three years. I had good supervisors who recognized my hard work and my performance. I had a commanding officer who was a superstar and on a meteoric climb to four-star admiral. No doubt, his signature on my performance evaluations helped my advancement.
Procter & Gamble hired over a hundred sales people to support the expansion of the paper products division to the Western United States. I was one of those people who went to work during that expansion. The paper products division sold Pampers disposable diapers, Charmin bathroom tissue, Bounty paper towels, and Puffs facial tissue. The day I started to work, the paper products department only had one product to sell: Pampers diapers. That brand was already in place in the West as a brand that the toilet goods division sold.
Because of delays in the completion of manufacturing facilities, the paper products division did not get any of the other products for over two years.
My expectations for promotions were just dreams. During the time I worked at Procter & Gamble, none of the new people the company had hired for the expansion got a promotion.
I had two years of frustration. An honor graduate and a former junior military officer, I went to Procter & Gamble and spent two years calling on retail stores and small headquarters to sell disposable diapers.
Unlike my experience in the Navy, I had a mediocre supervisor. In the Navy, I had worked for people who excelled in their performance. At Procter & Gamble, I worked for a man who did just enough to get his job done.
For twenty-two straight months at Procter & Gamble, I was the Sales Representative of the Month. The job was so simple, that anyone with any initiative could stand out from the crowd.
My wife bought me a copy of Og Mandino’s The Greatest Salesman in the World. I applied every principle of the book to my work in a job that was very basic. One of the simplest principles was that before I completed my day, I would do one extra sales call or task.
Procter & Gamble sales representatives had daily objectives: sales, new item distribution, increased shelf space, price corrections, floor displays, and out of stock corrections.
Other sales representatives at Procter & Gamble made ten retail calls a day. I made fifteen. Because I was making fifty percent more calls than anyone else, I was producing greater numbers in every category of performance.
Even with the much higher call rate, I did not find the job challenging. I just worked briskly and efficiently to get through the day.
I gained national recognition at Procter & Gamble very quickly and often. Procter & Gamble published a national magazine for the sales organization. The name of the magazine was Moonbeams. Each edition featured news about accomplishments in the enormous sales department, which had over four thousand sales people. I made five appearances in Moonbeams in two years.
Moonbeams featured articles on truckload sales. I sold a major discount retailer on buying a truckload of Pampers, running a large newspaper advertisement on the promotion, and leaving the tractor-trailer decorated with a banner featuring “Pampers Truckload Sale” in one of the parking lot of one of their stores. Moonbeams ran an article on the event.
The magazine also included pictures of people who wrote policy suggestions that affected all sales departments on a national level. I appeared in Moonbeams 4 times for creating new ways to operate more efficiently and effectively.
After two years, Procter & Gamble still had not promoted anyone among the people who were part of the expansion of the paper products department.
Time to Make a Career Move
My wife and I were starting a family. I had savings from the period I was in the Navy. We could afford a down payment on a house. However, the income of a Procter & Gamble sales representative would not have given us much of a lifestyle with the addition of a family.
I wrote my resume based on my accomplishments at Procter & Gamble. I interviewed with some great companies. I got a job with Polaroid Corporation. Polaroid increased my salary thirty percent. The increase in income enabled my wife and me to buy our first house and start a family.
At Polaroid, I continued to be a leading performer. I lead the western region in sales. I took honors as the Marketing Representative of the Year. Polaroid promoted me to from Sacramento to Houston. Finally, my career timing was better.
Five years after leaving Procter & Gamble, I became a corporate recruiter. I built my recruiting network from the people I knew since entering civilian industry at Procter & Gamble. As a recruiter, I spoke with the first person to receive a promotion among those people Procter & Gamble hired when they hired me. He also was a former junior military officer. He and his wife both worked for Procter & Gamble. He received his promotion at Procter & Gamble after four and one half years. He and I talked about the unfortunate timing he and I had in joining Procter & Gamble in the paper products department. We had joined the company when there was no business growth to create career opportunities.
Time and place are critical to career success. A career change is often the only way you can improve your opportunities for career success.