My Open Letter to Salespeople – My Comfort Column

MY OPEN LETTER TO SALESPEOPLE (Take with a pinch of salt)

Dear Salesperson,

I’m writing to share my concerns about your sales techniques that I have observed in my 5 years as a Marketing professional.

I empathise that we all have a job to do, and granted, it might be that your advertising slot, new piece of software or even the whole of your business could contribute towards me achieving my professional targets or indeed surpassing them. However, please understand a few things when making your pitch to me.

I’m not stupid. Your ‘special offers’ are fairly transparent and it’s hard to believe your claims that they are exclusively for me, especially when we have no history. In most cases, we have never spoken before and , often, I will have ignored all your previous emails offering something similar, if not the same. Whilst finances are always going to be important, you’re wrong in thinking that’s the eye catcher. But thanks for trying to make me feel special.

Whilst on the topic of emails, if you’re going to recycle a mirror-message over and over again, after pressing Ctrl-Alt-V, please take a moment to change the font on my name, check your formatting and keep some consistency with the rest of the email. Listen, I’m probably going to ignore the email anyway but at least give yourself a chance.

Now, just because I ignored your email, this is not an implicit invitation to start hammering redial on my direct line, or worse, my work switchboard. You wouldn’t try entering my garden door if I didn’t answer the front. It’s the same. As well as an analogy let me kindly translate some code and offer some inside information: if you are told that I’m busy, in a meeting or away from my desk repeatedly, take the hint, I’m not interested in what you’re selling.

Okay, you’ve got through to me. I’m British so will typically make every attempt to be as polite possible and humour your pitch. The factual reality is it will be the last thing on my mind and often the last thing I’ll need. Don’t try to pressure me into a booking a meeting or a phone call within the next few days. It’ll force me to fob you off with “I need to have a chat internally” or worse shut you down there and then.

This leads me neatly to my next point. If I do decline your unbeatable ‘once in a life time offer’ – please don’t proceed to ask me why I don’t want it and try to prove me wrong. I’m now thinking about my 100 unread emails and outstanding tasks. I don’t owe you an explanation but now you owe me lost time and guess what, I still don’t want your sale.

LinkedIn – please let me remind you, it’s not Facebook. A connection doesn’t make us friends suddenly. Please don’t message me with niceties such as “How am I enjoying my day?” in the hope to lure me into a sale later. Keep it professional, please!

I know things aren’t static and business needs change, but having declined in the first place, I’m probably not going to want to mull over the same ground in 6 months’ time and repeat the process with you, and surely you must be bored of repeating your script.

You’ll probably be thinking, how do I sell to you Tom? I don’t know the answer to your question but maybe if you can begin to understand my grievances and work on creating long term understanding with me, as opposed to focusing on what you need to sell here and now, we might be able to begin to have mutually fruitful partnership in the future. Just an idea, but you’re the salesman, not me.

I hope this feedback proves helpful and you will consider a revision of your strategies and methods. It will benefit you, me, and your fellow sales people. How about that for a sale?

Kind Regards,

Tom Rose

My Comfort Column: The Blog Awards UK

An evening to celebrate and recognise all good stories that come from behind a desk, whilst staring at a computer screen and tapping away at a keyboard.

Incredibly, after 2000 blog entries and 73,352 votes… My Comfort Zone Challenge had been shortlisted to the final 10 in the ‘Most Innovative’ category.

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It’s a far cry from where I’ve come from… 18 months ago I was just a crazy kid with a crazy idea. I only decided to write about my challenges as a commitment to the world to complete them all. I remember the day I was first described as a ‘blogger’… It took me back, I laughed at the description. I’d always thought that to be labelled a blogger, you’d have to write about fashion, beauty, health or travel. The event showed just how naïve I was. The world of blogging is quite incredible, the subject matter is wild and wonderful, and contrary to my initial impressions, limitless.
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In general, I worry about the future of writing. Like many, I believe that the standards of grammar are falling and the social media style of writing is taking over. Who knows, in 100 years emoji’s may substitute words and journalism only be portrayed in only 140 characters… Perhaps virtual interaction is killing how we communicate.
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However, that said, as I sat in the Big Friendly Giant themed Park Plaza, surrounded by professional and amateur writers, I soon realised the world is adapting and evolving. Blogging is something powerful and influential. It can only grow. I found myself inspired to improve and develop my writing. The one blog that particularly inspired me, was the Girl on Top by Laura Saudagaite. Laura tells her story of dealing with breast cancer and courageously shares how a young woman can both live and deal with an all consuming disease, without letting it stand in her way. Sadly, she passed away weeks before the event but through her blog, her words are everlasting, her message infinite.
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I didn’t win an award on the night, and to be honest, I didn’t expect too. The competitive side of me of course wanted to come home with something to put on my bedside table, but for me it was never about winning awards or gaining titles. I took on a personal challenge, and I’m proud to declare that I’ve stepped outside my comfort zone,  completed 52 challenges in 52 weeks, started a next set of challenges, raised over £2000 for 2 charities, found a love passion for writing and reached the finals of the UK Blog Awards. Safe to say, it’s been great so far.

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My Comfort Zone Challenge: Brighton Marathon

Brighton Marathon

Things I knew in my head before the marathon:
– I would finish
– It wouldn’t be easy
– The crowd would be helpful
– My body is going to hurt

After casually assuming the challenge of a marathon 6 months ago – during my phrase of being a yes man – the day finally came around to run 26.2 miles. Can I first say, this was one hell of a commitment. As a guy who had never attempted any kind of distance, trying to complete 15 miles a week quickly became a chore.

We’ve all heard the story, do one marathon and you catch ‘the bug’… Well, I didn’t. Not even in the slightest. Apparently, it’s not that contagious. Don’t get me wrong, going out for a quick half hour to an hour jog, that’s really nice… A great chance to clear your head whilst getting a bit of exercise. When I had to start running 10 miles and upwards, my body just did not agree. First, the knees –dodgy at the best of times, yet alone without the relentless pounding onto concrete. Then, the shin splints – Christ, if you’ve ever had this, you’ll know what I mean and won’t need me to elaborate. For those who haven’t – consider yourselves lucky. Finally, the mind – The boredom and constant plea with my body to stop running was often my most painful injury – the hardest to prevent and sooth.

It’s said you should get up to about 20 miles distance in your training, ahead of the big day. Well, I got nowhere near this distance – 14 miles was my best effort. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

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I started the day with my new trainers on, my new vest, and with a sense of optimism. This was only enhanced as David Bowie – Heroes was played minutes before the start of the race, which then I quickly added to my running playlist. I was inspired and ready to smash it. The first 13 miles, whilst hot, I found easy. I had run this far and was used to the distance. I really enjoyed the experience.

You’re told before the race you’ll hit ‘The Wall’… around 20 miles, a part of the race where you feel you can give no more. I didn’t hit The Wall. I smashed into The Wall face first, and got flattened like a pancake upon impact. I had nothing left to give. Every muscle in my leg got attacked by cramp. I’d try and stretch one out, for the opposite muscle to cramp. Like a game of whack a mole that you can’t win, and except it wasn’t a game. It wasn’t fun. It was a pain unlike any pain I’ve had before.

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What comes with pain and exhaustion, is the mind playing tricks on you. With a rough goal of trying to finish under 5 hours, as I was cramping, I was convinced I had messed up and was on for a 6 hour time. I was gutted and  convinced I’d failed. It only took my work colleague Lisa, who was there for the final stretch to give me some motivating words, as I was on the edge of breaking down, to keep me going.

I’d accepted every sweet, drink, gel, biscuit along the way but it was half a mile from the end, where I saw my good friends, Jake and Holly, who were there with my favourite chocolate Minstrels, that I knew “this is the last of the on route treats” and I was metres away from finishing. I shoved the minstrels in my mouth in the least polite fashion. I then continued with my walking pace jog and lapped up the applauds to the finish line. The exhaustion brought tears to my eyes. I have no idea why, I had finished and there was nothing to be emotional about. Perhaps tears of joy? It was over – 6 months of training for this moment. It was brilliant.

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I didn’t get the bug, and I couldn’t walk for a good week after finishing. After promising myself a few days after I would never do a marathon again, I sat there watching the London Marathon, and thought ‘Never say never’. There really is something about achieving things that is addictive. My mum told me a good analogy, it’s like giving birth – after the first time a woman will say never again, but 5 years down the line she will sit there with two kids. Pain is temporary.

A lot of people told me a lot of different things in the lead up to the marathon. Some true, some not. My advice to anyone doing a marathon, try to ignore the advice. Get yourself a half decent pair of trainers, and work the rest out for yourself, it’s part of the fun. Everyone is a different standard, and it’s not a one size fits all approach – just get out there run. My second piece of advice, don’t do it!

Things I learnt from the marathon:
– I did bloody well just to finish
– Running 26.2 miles is BLOODY HARD
– The crowd are simply incredible
– Cramp in every single muscle in my leg is the most painful experience I’ve ever had

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THE NEW LIST

2015. The year I opened to mind to all the things that can be done in this world and how it feels to achieve something you never thought you could. 52 challenges in 52 weeks – My Comfort Zone Challenge took over my life and by the end of the year, I was just happy to say I completed it.
2016. I sit here in week 14 of the new year, and I can’t believe I’m saying it but… I miss it. I’ve seen a couple of people who are embarking on their on 52 challenges in 52 weeks, which is great to see, but remember, it started here first!

The pure intensity of trying to complete 52 challenges in 52 weeks, meant that, I couldn’t always complete certain challenges and I certainly didn’t do everything I wanted to do. So the next phase of my comfort zone challenge is ‘THE NEW LIST’. I never shared my list in 2015, it was just an ideas list, none of you needed to see it. THE NEW LIST is yours to share with me. The rules aren’t as strict this time. No time frame to complete it. It can be ambitious. It can be added too over time. The key to this list is not to become a bucket list – this is a comfort zone challenge list (they are completely different).

So here it is:

– Raise £20 000 for charity in my lifetime – Currently £2 385.55 – 11.9% Complete
Run a half marathon HERE
– Run a marathon – DONATE HERE
– Make national news HERE
– Complete a skydive
– A charity boxing match
– Climb a mountain
– Fly a plane
– Paragliding
– Hold a snake
– Wing walking
– Bungee jump
– Complete a Trek
– London to Paris bike ride
– Visit every continent
– Travel for more than 2 months
– Drive a race car
– Speak in front of a crowd of 500+
– Try surfing
– Act in a play/tv/movie
– Be an extra
– Go on a game show
– Have a swimming lesson
– Shark diving
– Break a world record
– Walk on a nude beach
– Become a mentor
– Be an organ donor
– Learn a new language
– Pay a bill for a stranger
– Babysit
– Aerobatics
– Hitch hiking
– Buy lunch for a homeless person
– Play in a band
– Life Modelling – Model and Artist
– Get Lost (Find my way home with no technology)
– Book a flight at the airport
– A day of complimenting strangers
– Juice Cleanse
– Canoeing
– Volunteer in a hospital
– A dance competition
– An EXTREME challenge
– Abseil down a building
– Meet a personal hero

The list will be added too. If you have ideas, particularly Charity Challenges, let me know. I’m interested in partnering with charities to achieve some of these ideas.

Running the Brighton Half Marathon

The half way point in my current goal to complete a marathon. I made a promise to myself that once I reached the 13.1 mile mark in my training – I would return to posting. So here’s the story so far.

Whilst in full flow of accepting challenges in 2015 – I signed up for the Brighton Marathon. A decision that was made with no real consideration to how much it would impact my life. It’s only since new year, I that I really started to take training semi – seriously. Sunday’s can’t just be hangover days anymore.. they’re meant to be for long runs. I’ve never been a distance runner, in fact, I’ve always despised it. Give me a 100m sprint all day – anything over 200m and I’m struggling. I think prior to starting this challenge the longest I ever ran is 5k – so not a great base to start with.

Training has consisted of running three times a week on Brighton seafront, gradually increasing the distance of the run. It’s a frustrating process, some weeks you think you’ve made some real progress, only for your body to tell you ‘no you haven’t’ a week later. Add on the fact, my body doesn’t seem to agree with running. First my knee then my shins – everything seems to be in pain post runs. Having said that, there’s something therapeutically about running – particularly after a stressful day at work. Plug in, listen to your tunes and just free your mind.

It was my aim to be smashing half marathons well before Brighton half marathon race day came around. However, injuries and illness, for the two weeks lead up to the event I couldn’t really train. The closest I got was an 11 mile run on a Monday evening before my body completely shut down and gave up on running. I was hoping to complete 13 miles on this night, but I crashed. The body had nothing left to give and had to walk myself home, tail between my legs.

The start line
The start line

My preparation didn’t feel quite ideal coming into race day. The 6.30am alarm in order to get my porridge down me was painful but the view walking towards the start line was special. It was a perfect day to run – not too hot, not too windy. Over 8000 people turned up to the start line – way more than I ever imagined. All the runners filled the waiting time by doing their stretches, jogging on the spot, looking the part. I try to join in at this point, and act like I knew what I was doing. There’s only so many times you can stretch your quads though.

Barefooted!
Barefooted!

The run itself started off feeling quite easy – the atmosphere of the day and nervous energy seemed to make the first few miles feel comfortable. I ran past a gentleman, running without shoes on and thought now there’s a challenge! I don’t know how this man got on, but he was cruising at the 5 mile point, fair play to him. I wanted to complete the run without stopping or walking, so I would find myself just getting into a zone where I would just be looking down on the road just concentrating on each step. In this zone, I became completely unaware of the crowd supporting me, no idea what song I was listening too and not really sure if I was thinking about anything!

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The 11 mile point came along. Where in training I had previously failed. At this point, I was no longer in the zone. I was exhausted – using every little boost from the crowd to pick me up. Touching signs for energy, taking sweets of strangers for sugar and shouting at my legs to keep running (followed by a few laughs by runners around me).  It was hard by this point.

But as I jogged towards the Brighton i360, I noticed the time I was doing. I didn’t really care what time I finished in, but at the 12 mile mark my running app told me I was at 1 hour 51 minutes. At this point, I did start to care what time I finished in. Could I finish under 2 hours?  Could I run an 8 minute mile?

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No. My jelly legs had nothing left in them and my face was pulling all sorts of expressions. The crowd cheering made it possible to get to the end and the feeling at the finish line was an emotional relief. 2 hours 1 minute and 16 seconds. A time in hindsight, I’m very happy with. At this point, the thought of running double the distance is terrifying. Two days later, at the time of writing this post, I can’t walk down a set of stairs without a gasp of pain coming from my mouth. Half way point – It all gets harder from here. I’ll report back in April.

Exhausted
Exhausted

In the words of Dory from Finding Nemo – Just keep swimming. Or running in this case.

I must thank Rockinghorse Children’s Charity for letting me represent them in the race, and for the free killer post-race massage. They’re still looking for runners for the Brighton Marathon, so feel free to join me and represent a good cause. A shout out to Rachael Phelps – alarm clock, baggage holder, general support and putting up with my post-race moaning – Much appreciated.

2 hours 1 minute 16 seconds
2 hours 1 minute 16 seconds

A year outside my comfort zone

So here I am. 1 year, 365 days, 52 weeks, 8760 hours, 525600 minutes (you get the idea) of attempting to live outside my comfort zone. Here’s a story of a 24-year-old guy, just making his way in life, taking on what starts as a personal challenge and ends up being something so much more than that.

I remember the moment I came up with this idea, driving in the car on the way home from work, just pondering life. In my head, the idea of doing a challenge a week would be easy. Would people buy into the idea? I wasn’t so sure.

I remember the moment I told my friend Jake about the idea, the first person to hear about it. We were standing in a bar, with a poster of an open mic night being advertised, and I said, I’m going to do that. I shared my idea to him and he completely encouraged me.

I remember the moment I put that first ever post up. My friends, Dan and Andy, messaged me saying what a great idea, and giving me ideas for challenges. Everyone that saw it were so receptive of the idea.

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I remember the moment I received my first bit of criticism about the idea. A colleague of mine jovially told me what’s a guy of my age doing stupid things like this, every week. I smiled, told him he was probably right, and ignored him.

Here’s the thing – everything single part of this comfort zone challenge taught me something. I’m talking far beyond learning to paint, learning to play guitar, learning a comedy sketch. I’m talking far things about learning things about myself a human being:

Commitment

I’ve never committed to something so intense. When people ask me what the biggest challenge of the year was, I simply tell them, the challenge of sorting out a challenge every week. Once they novelty had worn off, finding the motivation to find challenges became for want of a better a phrase ‘a pain in the a**e’. If someone organised a challenge for me each and every week, I believe this would have been easy.

Unfortunately, in a moment of weakness, three quarters of the way through, a drunk Tom Rose declared to his friends “I WANT THESE COMFORT ZONE CHALLENGES TO END.” And proceeded to ask his friends to “MAKE THEM END!!”. They say the truth comes out when you’re drunk – I can confirm this was the truth at the time.

I’ve never been a quitter, it’s something I pride myself on. During the lowest points of this year, I reminded myself that I would not be quitting at any cost. I remember close friends of mine saying “I recon you’ll only get to week 33” and I was determined to prove these people wrong. One of the great pleasures in life is doing what people say you cannot do – A quote that sits on my wall at work (I do love a quote). What have I learnt – If you say you’re going to do something, do it. The thing is, letting yourself down is the easiest thing in the world to do, but by doing so, I believe the chances of ever achieving something worthwhile are completely shot. If you tell yourself enough you can and will do something – I promise you, you CAN and WILL!

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The fear of failure

Ask yourself what is your biggest fear. Is it heights? Is it snakes? Is it death even? I truly believe the fear of failure is the biggest thing holding us back in life and something that resonates in us all and certainly with myself. In a world where we long for acceptance, failing, prevents us from gambling.

I can think of many occasions over the year people told me “I could never do that”. My genuine reply is, “If I can, you can. What’s stopping you?”. Many people will tell me an excuse along the lines of “I can’t blah blah blah”… In reality, they fear failure.

Throughout my life, I’ve cared passionately what people think of me. The fear of failure and publicly being accepted, prevented me from achieving anything. I have failed before, it’s rubbish, but the feeling of achievement is something much greater and more powerful. You’ll never avoid failure, it happens. I try to use failure and learn from it, or let it motivate me. Dream big and dare to fail.

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Enjoyment

Sorry, another quote to share with you, but I quite liked this one. ‘Some people have such good taste they can’t enjoy anything’. I learnt quickly along the way, just because I haven’t tried something or my perception isn’t something I’d associate myself with, doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy it. So many challenges I actually enjoyed doing. Comedy, performing, bike rides, dancing, beekeeping, horse riding etc. I enjoyed them all. Having the mind-set to enjoy things along the way, made everything that much easier. A smile heals all.

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Things could be worse

No matter how rubbish the challenges were, no matter how bad I felt, no matter bad things got over the last year, no matter how much I got fed up with being asked “what’s this week’s challenge”. I really found out things could be worse.

The final quarter of the year, I had a bit of an epiphany moment.. I was sleeping rough on a mild Septembers night. I was freezing cold, with pins and needles, wrapped in seven layers and a cardboard box and thought, how do people do this? I began to think more and more about the life I had compared to people that are lonely and do not have a home. So when I really needed some motivation to finish these challenges, I decided to dedicate my challenges to two amazing charities. Using the platform, I had created, I hoped I could help some people that really need it.

The support I received was overwhelming. I sit here today writing, having raised over £1500 and counting for the charities. My blog has taken me onto the front page of the newspapers, onto radio, on TV and amassed nearly 16 000 views. What started off as a personal challenge to myself turned into something I’ll never forget and will talk about for the rest of my life (unlucky, if you’re a friend of mine).

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People have asked what my next new year’s resolution is. Whilst not as big and challenging, I have decided to commit to use everything I have learnt from the past year and live by the statements I have made. Amazingly, three people have told me they are going to try something similar. To inspire people to try something similar, makes me proud. If you want to share your stories with me, I will happily post people doing something similar. This isn’t the end of mycomfortzonechallenge.com, I will be posting ad-hoc challenges that I do throughout my life, starting with Brighton Marathon.

YOU CAN STILL DONATE HERE

Ladies and Gentlemen – Life really does begin at the end of you comfort zone.

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Week 52: Tattoo

Week 52 of my comfort zone challenge – a tattoo.

Had you have spoken to me in the other 23 years of my life, I honestly would have told you I would never get a tattoo. It’s something I’ve never been interested in. I never really understood why people would want something permanently on them that didn’t really mean anything to them.

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Nervously waiting

That, however, all changed as I’ve embarked on this year. To be honest, it was only in the last couple of months I warmed to the idea of getting one. You’ll notice at the beginning I set the rule “nothing that effects my personal appearance”. Well here I am sitting here having broken that rule. It took 10 months to decide to break this rule, but the thought of having a permanent reminder of this year, is something I actually wanted.

So having overcome the fear of getting one, the question now was what to get? This was easy… Simply, the quote that inspired this whole blog. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”. The positioning of the tattoo was a tricky one in my mind. I wanted to be able to show it off, but I wanted something I could hide at the same time. The arm felt like the most obvious place.

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The getting the tattoo itself was quite a funny experience… In a tattoo parlour where you could barely stand without hitting your head, the experience was rather quick. The tattoo artist shaved my forearm and began to draw on the font. For 15 minutes, it felt like a cat (ironically the artists name was Katja) was scratching me. I actually found the pain really annoying. How people sit there for 5 hours getting tattoos, I’m not sure.

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As quick as that, there it is, this quote that will sit on my forearm for the rest of my life. Safely healed and with a ridiculous shaved patch on my arm, I sit here with a stamp that will forever remind me to live outside my comfort zone. Some people, including myself, laugh at the thought of me having a tattoo, but I’ve grown to like it. It means something to me, which is something I never understood until now.

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