2 weeks ago I upped and left my job. A few mortgages, rent, bills, a life and no income. It’s alright, I thought, it was only a temporary job anyways. One that I needed to fill the time with while I searched for another one that was more relevant to my experience and goals. It’s a funny and ironic path that’s led me to where I am right now actually. I’ve always been a sort-of-lucky kind of guy. Ask my friend Gracie to tell you some stories, she knows them all, but sometimes things just happen to fall into place for me. I’m always grateful of course. Being a Chinese kid, my mom always told me stories like “‘Aaaah Jai, people are lucky in this life because in their past lives they were kind and good and now they are being rewarded for it. If you take it for granted, you will be punished for it in the next life by having no luck!” So being the listen-to-your-mom kind of son, I’ve always been thankful for my luck and fortune. While I believe in Fate, I think it only goes as far as showing you the path and leaves the choice of whether you walk that path of not up to you. I think life is like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book. There’s always a choice as to which path you want to take, but Fate only offers you a limited number of choices based on your environment.
For me the path started in 2001 when I graduated from SFU with a BBA. A young and eager, fresh faced businessman out to make his mark. I had dreams of the corner office in a downtown company, complete with the custom tailored suit, Italian silk tie and convertible BMW in my own parking spot. I’d be wheeling and dealing, closing deals and making acquisitions. Holding board meetings with my directors and being a firm and performance driven Executive but one that listens to the everyman of the company as well to continually drive profits and growth from every aspect.
My first career was working for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Hardly the board meeting type of company, but nonetheless, offered great management and entrepreneural training. I excelled as a corporate accounts manager, closing bodyshops and dealerships on using rental vehicles instead of owning their own fleet of courtesy cars. That led to my second career at Canon Business Solutions. Headhunted to fill an Account Executive role, they stole me from Enterprise Rent-A-Car and thus ended my days of washing cars in suits and selling car rental services to grease-faced, monkey-suit wearing body shop managers. At Canon, slanging 50k photocopiers was fun for a bit. I made top rep in Canada for a while but the best thing to happen to me out of Canon was that it enabled me to buy my first condo. I remember my days at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, my manager at the time would look at the picture of a decked out suite displaying a living room of a condo I had cut out and had pinned up above my computer and laugh. “Pius wants to buy a condo downtown on his Assistant Managers paycheque.” Well, I did it, but he was right. It was on the Canon paycheque that I did it. Thanks though Robbie, if it weren’t for what you said, I probably wouldn’t have worked that hard to prove that you’re an idiot.
While I was going through the process of saving up and buying my first condo, I fell in love with real estate. I looked at 16 places before I found one I loved and bid on and ended up buying. I enjoyed browsing through each condo though, seeing the differences in layout and spacing. I nerded out on stats of the market and fluxuations of interest rates and types of financing. I calculated and recalculated the investment versus profit margins and ratios and would stay up until 3-4am every night dreaming of what I’d do with 10 properties. I’d retire and play all day. One night, after I’d finished renovating the place for the day, I sat in the dark and empty living room by myself, my tools around me, the place a messy construction site. I looked around and told myself “This is mine. Finally.”
I left Canon because I had problems with my manager and we didn’t see eye to eye on some practices. I had briefly contemplated going into real estate, but with a fresh mortgage and not enough knowledge, I decided to take the offer at Business Objects. I had gone in to sell them Canon copiers, but lost the deal to Xerox instead (How can you win against Xerox when half the executives at Business Objects were old Xerox employees?!? Outright epic fail). Even though I was unable to secure the contract for Canon, Business Objects liked my mad skills and offered me a contract. Of all my careers so far, I’ve enjoyed working there the best. I made Presidents Club twice in 3.5 years, rewarded with all expenses paid trips to Australia and Hawaii as well as earning a decent income along the way which enabled me to purchase more property.
Alas, all great things must come to an end and we were bought out by SAP. The Germans came just like they did in 1944 and scooped us right up, bought out and taken over. My career path came to an abrupt halt with all the changes that followed. Shizer. I was fairly unhappy with the way things were and after about 8 months, it came to a point where my personal health was being affected. I was moody, lazy and didn’t want to work. I was late everyday and left early as often as I could. My ambition and drive were dropping faster than the Japanese economy and it wasn’t the direction anybody would want to go towards. One day during a weekly meeting with my manager, I quit with no near future plan and lived off my savings for a bit. I spent the next 4 months on an extended vacation, the first time in 15 years that I was unemployed. I played hockey at night and rode my bike during the day. Woke up at 1pm and went to bed at 5am. I even went to Cabo San Lucas and kayaked, tanned and swam in the ocean. A dream life I gotta say.
Coming back home on the plane from Cabo, I started talking with the passenger next to me. It turned out he was the CEO of a growing software company and was looking for an experienced rep to start and lead a sales and marketing team. Another month of freedom later, I sat in my new office (no longer cubicle) and proceeded to make this small 20 man company into a multinational corporation. Unfortunately, Wall Street USA had different plans and October 2008 hit, sending the world economy into a puke bucket and taking hundreds of thousands of people with it. Although we were never effected as much as the States, Canada still felt a recession and my small 20 man company went bankrupt and I was laid off. I was given 2 weeks to find a job due to another mortgage that I had to sign in 5 weeks and needed a show of employment or the deal was off. Luckily, I’d found a few companies willing to hire me and this brings us back to the temporary job that I’d just upped and quit 2 weeks ago due to moral reasons.
Coming to a realization after my 4th career change that I would be much happier and fulfilled doing my own thing, after 7 years of ‘could of’s’ and ‘maybe next year’s’ and ‘soon I will’s’ I’m finally taking the realtors course at UBC and getting my license. I’ve been studying my ass off for the past couple of weeks (hence the lack of posts recently!) and it’s been refreshing to be a student again. Selling car rental services, selling photocopiers, selling enterprise software, selling custom software developments, selling internet marketing services, selling homes. That basically sums up my professional experience for the past 8 years and the only things that stayed consistant in that time was that I was selling something by showing a value to my client in what I represent and that I followed real estate since that first cut out picture of the living room of a condo I had tacked above my computer screen at Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Follow your passion, I always say. Take a chance, I said before. Who knows how successful I’ll be at my next challenge but what I do know is that it’s going to be hella fun and I’m going to be a happier, more relaxed version of myself and that in itself is success already.
(Let me be your realtor!)