The Millionaire Next Door

Dan’s Journey: 9 Jobs to Wealth

Do you ever wonder why the large majority of millionaires have little interest in early retirement?  It is more than love of the job. Most, 81% of millionaires, selected their vocation because: My job/career allows me full use of my abilities and aptitudes.

It is a whole lot easier to become an economic success if you are well suited to your job. This is why you have to know something about your own aptitudes. Once you do, you can match talent with opportunity. The following case of Dan R. illustrates my point.

I met Dan at a focus group of high performing sales professionals I was conducting. He was supposed to be a millionaire who succeeded because of his skills as a successful sales professional, but halfway through his introduction, I almost stopped him because I thought the recruiter had made a mistake. All Dan talked about was a series of sales positions where he either underperformed or was fired. I thought Dan was in the wrong place that night, but I let him continue;  it was a good thing I didn’t interrupt.  Consider Dan’s path to finding the ideal vocation.

Position 1. After graduating from a top business school Dan took a job with a corporation selling electronic watches to large retailers.  I never seemed to get the knack of it . . . didn’t sell a lot.  After two years I was asked to resign.

Position 2. Dan then went to work for a major producer of electronic games, but once again I couldn’t get the knack of selling and they asked me to leave about a year and a half later.

Position 3. Hired by a start-up computer company, Dan resigned after nine months of never selling one computer.

Position 4. Dan was hired by a small computer company.  He didn’t sell much of their product either and once again resigned this position.

Position 5. This position was also with a computer company.  Dan didn’t meet his sales quota and again was asked to resign.

Position 6. In Dan’s next job, I was really doing well because I wasn’t in sales . . . [I] was in marketing . . . .  But nine months later, the company ran out of money and went out of business.

Position 7. Dan accepted a sales position with a start-up computer company and made only $45,000 annually until the last year I was there . . . .  I made $200,000!  But then the market slowed up and the company went out of business.

Position 8. Dan accepted another sales job. But the company had problems with me because of low sales volume.

Position 9.  Dan hired on with a company that produces scanners at cash registers.  They let me go.

I wasn’t the only one who thought Dan was in the wrong place.  The fellow who sat next to him laughingly blurted out the following comment after Dan’s story of position 5:  I don’t want to sit next to this guy anymore!

Finally, Dan revealed the unique career that closely fit his abilities and aptitudes.  He landed a job that was entitled “sales professional,” but it was much more than selling as defined by most of his previous positions.  This job not only required Dan to close major deals, it also called for considerable market planning, understanding of each customer’s unique needs, preparing detailed proposals, and most importantly, focusing on major accounts.  Dan viewed his position as being more of a market consultant than merely a sales caller.  He realized that he had been outperformed by other sales professionals because he is a thinker, not a sales commando.  It took nine experiences with other employment situations before he fully conceptualized his definition of the ideal position. 

Dan never regrets his previous experiences working in sales for nine other employers.  He searched until he found his niche-his marketing orientation perfectly matches the needs of his current employer, who manufactures, markets, and distributes custom-designed handheld computers.  After working in this job for six years, Dan was happy to report to the group that he received a $35 million dollar contract from Home Depot. . . my W-2 read $1,033,000 commission on the check!

Dan’s journey to wealth was long and filled with many disappointments.  In the end, however, his perseverance paid off and he has become one of America’s best-paid, most-productive revenue generators.

3 thoughts on “Dan’s Journey: 9 Jobs to Wealth”

  1. Thank you for sharing this story. I realized that what I am going through now is just part of the journey to self-discovery. I’ve been to 8 jobs yet I haven’t found my niche that would make full use of my talents and capabilities.


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