“I can’t, I’m not qualified, I don’t have the experience, I just… I CAN’T.”
If any of this negative self-talk resonates with you, then please allow me to share my story of Flockjay: the 10-week online sales training program that transformed my life. Once a pessimistic hospitality worker, I’m now an educated tech sales professional embarking on a new career.
By design, every Flockjay student, or “Tech Fellow,” comes from a different place. A place not necessarily oriented around sales or tech. Different locations, levels of education, years of experience, and overall diversity are what make each batch of “Flockstars” unique.
Everyone has a personal Flockjay story: this is mine.
The Past: Hospitality Life Before Flockjay
These words kept playing in my head: “I’m not a hard worker. I’m not a hustler, I don’t have it in me anymore. That’s just not who I am.” I shared this with my therapist in early February, 2020.
Her response: “So what you’re saying is, you want to be a dilettante?”
Me: “Basically, yeah.”
Plainly put: I didn’t want to do anything. At the time, I was in a rut working a restaurant gig that wasn’t moving me forward or earning me nearly enough money to be comfortable. I had no attractive alternate employment prospects, no desire to work a dead end job, and little interest in learning the ropes in an entirely new industry and starting fresh.
The latter concept was later presented to me as “reskilling.”
This seemed daunting. I’d already changed careers – leaving a job with “executive” in my title (not followed by “assistant”) in order to become a part-time host before moving my way up in the restaurant world. At 32, the prospect of a similar transition was extremely unappealing.
Additionally, I was tired. Fall of 2018 found me out of work on medical leave through May of the following year – at which time I went back to work just 3 days a week, no longer a manager, but a server. And for the next 9 months, that’s all I did. After more than a year of part-time low-stress work, the prospect of a full-time gig terrified me.
The only way forward I saw in my inflexible state was to go back to school, get my undergraduate degree while working part time, get my Master’s, go into practice as a therapist, and start making decent money by the time I’m… 40? 41? Shit.
As you can imagine, the word “dejected” didn’t adequately cover the degree of my melancholy.
The Search: Finding Flockjay’s Online Sales Training Program
Upon this realization, I found myself trolling Craigslist, hunting for a magical position close to home that included great money, with little work. (I know, not exactly the picture of healthy motivation.) I came across an ad for what looked like a tech sales position and – while I had no experience in that department – I thought, “What the hell?”
Flockjay’s post included a few key phrases that stuck out to me:
- “Your new career in tech sales starts now.”
- “No financial risk – you don’t pay until you have a job making more than $40k.”
- “Average salary of graduates post-program is $75k.”
The ad looked professional. But in response, the key phrases that entered my cautious brain are the ones you’d expect:
- “Craigslist scams are a dime a dozen, this seems way too good to be true.”
- “Professional education and job placement with no money up front? Right”
- “Let me scan this bogus ad for typos and formatting errors… wait, there aren’t any.”
From there, I took to Google and sized up Flockjay’s website, which seemed legitimate, because it is. In this process, I also learned that Will Smith and Serena Williams are Flockjay investors (you know, real people).
The Leap: Applying to Flockjay
So, I stopped second guessing myself and submitted an application. Internally, my head was swarming with ‘what-ifs,’ but realistically, I assumed I probably wouldn’t move forward. Why? It felt like a lot of moving parts, in addition to my loved ones being skeptical.
No one thought it was for real, except my husband, who did his due diligence. He reached out to a tech-world friend of his, who was familiar with Flockjay, and confirmed I should go for it. He assured me that I shouldn’t worry about having to work weekends:
“I’ll take care of the kids. You need to do this. You’ll kick so much ass.”
A couple days later, I was accepted into the program as a Flockjay Tech Fellow.
My manager approved my schedule change request and I was on my way – all the while that adversarial voice was grating inside my brain saying, “You can’t do this, salespeople work hard. They’re organized. You can’t get your shit together, what are you thinking?”
I temporarily silenced the voice, knowing I’d have two weeks after the start of class to drop out without financial repercussion if things didn’t work out. In which case, I could go back to applying for mediocre jobs to dull my wits and barely cover expenses. Whoopee.
The Moment: Embracing Flockjay as the Right Choice for Me
Reading over the introductory email from the CEO, Shaan Hathiramani, I homed in on the name of one of the founders: Kelly Schuur. I went to high school and church with someone named Kelly Schuur, in addition to a trip to Belize as teenagers, but what are the odds?
I tried to find her on Facebook, failed, and didn’t think much of it past that. Until orientation day, when I joined our first Zoom call and saw Kelly’s face – adorable chin dimple and all – brightening up the screen.
Holy cow! It was really her, someone even more real to me than Will Smith and Serena Williams. (I mean, they’re real, but I don’t know them.) Kelly’s smart, really smart. And while I hadn’t connected with her in years, I distinctly remembered her as a good person.
I didn’t admit it to myself until a couple weeks later, but making that connection was the pivotal moment when I knew Flockjay’s online program was the right thing for me. That I could do it.
The New Beginning: Joining the Positive Flockjay Community
Right off the bat, I got hit with a wave of positivity from an incredibly supportive community. If you’ve worked in bars, you’ll understand that I initially found this repellant and unnatural.
I guess that’s what happens when you spend most of your time with pessimists lacking in enthusiasm – when confronted with genuine encouragement and cheerfulness, your gut reaction is a red flag. You assume these people are not for real. As it turns out, they are.
It didn’t take long to realize that all the “Way to go!” encouragement came from a true place of kindness and empathy – not just from my fellow “flockmates,” but from the sales trainers and Flockjay staff as well.
Two weeks in, decision day brought a serious question to light: Do I stay or do I go?
I leaned into the, “If I go it will be trouble,” mindset and opted for sticking it out.
The Middle: 5 Takeaways for Future Flockjay Tech Fellows
A brief tour of Flockjay’s website will tell you it teaches solution-selling, that you get 200+ hours of training by industry experts, as well as real-world experience using ubiquitous CRMs such as Salesforce and SalesLoft. All of these things are true and absolutely important.
But what the program really did was show each and every one of us Tech Fellows without a sales background, that we already possessed all the skills to succeed. All that we needed was the language to define those skills and a little push to identify and refocus them.
The realization that my background in hospitality (and entertainment before that) would serve me well in the sales landscape suddenly made the whole prospect more approachable and a lot less scary.
I’d like to share some key takeaways that might help incoming students (or those of you who are on the fence about applying):
1. Be honest. Share your doubts – chances are, others in your Flock will have them, too. Connect, work through them together.
2. Don’t wait to reach out to your Flockmates outside of class. You’ll spend a lot of time with them, so get over that initial awkward feeling and dive in!
3. Use the office hours. I was always worried about wasting the trainers’ time, until it occurred to me: that’s what they’re there for, as a resource for me to ask an expert the basic questions I might not grasp yet. I cannot tell you how much I took away from those calls. Book them liberally!
4. You get out of it what you put into it. I can’t stress this enough, coming from someone who has half-assed her way through a great chunk of life. I threw myself into this whole-hog and came out a new person.
5. Remember that Flockjay is there for you. They are. Even if they don’t respond to your questions immediately, you are their priority. They will get back to you!
The Growth Mindset: My Personal Shift to Positive Thinking
All of that said, my biggest gain by far was much more personal. It was prompted by the inclusion in one of the classes of a 5-minute video outlining the difference between “fixed” and “growth” mindsets. I’d heard about these concepts before but hadn’t given them much thought.
But the video gave me pause… a long one. I picked up Mindset by Carol Dweck, a book I’d bought years ago but never got around to reading. Three days later, I finished it and my life had changed. It’s true that we all have the answers within ourselves and sometimes just need to be pointed in the right direction. None of what I read was shocking, it all made sense.
I’d heard it all before, I just wasn’t ready to listen until that moment.
The collective energy of the flock, the video, and the book resulted in a life-changing revelation: That voice inside my head was a liar. An adversary. And an asshole.
For me, these concepts were revolutionary.
With the help of an incredible reading list given to me by one of Flockjay’s trainers, I read 8 books in 5 weeks, I made commitments to new habits (and broke up with some bad ones) and followed through on them. All of a sudden, that voice started sounding a lot less convincing, and less noisy. This resulted in a can-do attitude that had been sorely lacking in my life until then.
To illustrate: I wake up at the same time every day, I exercise, read, write, do some Duolingo Spanish lessons, and floss. This might not be a big deal to some of you, but for me, it’s massive. I enrolled in a coaching school and have three clients already. I have goals, both short and long term that are clearly defined with steps in place to help me on my way.
I went from a self-described “lazy asshole” who rolled her eyes at bright and shiny motivated people to becoming one of those shiny motivated people.
I wouldn’t have guessed in a million years that just a few months from that therapy session in February, I’d have a new mindset and real, sincere, untarnished optimism. If you’d told me that I’d be gearing up to work in tech, I’d do a spit-take of my oat milk iced latte right in your lying face. And yet, here I am.
The Future: Life After Flockjay
In our first week of class, we were asked to write our future selves a letter to read on graduation day. I took a silly approach, considering that I didn’t really believe I’d make it that far. Thinking about how I felt writing that letter compared to where I am today leaves me breathless.
Truthfully, the real value of Flockjay lies outside of those 10 weeks. I got an amazing, highly concentrated education, yes. But I now have a network that will support me in perpetuity: through landing my next job, aiding in my success at that job, helping me as I transition to my next job, or through a difficult layoff, or with a difficult manager, and so on and so on.
And more importantly, I made real friends. Not just LinkedIn “network-type” friends, but meaningful, “meet-up-with-masks-on-in-the-middle-of-a-pandemic-type” friends.
About the words that used to play in my head: “I’m not a hard worker. I’m not a hustler, I don’t have it in me anymore. That’s just not who I am.” These are lies. People can change. I changed.