Saturday, December 1, 2007

Two Days as a Business Professional

On Tuesday the VP told me that the company hasn't been utilizing me and that she wants me to do a presentation for our Korean Representatives whom are visiting the headquarters later in the week.

Well, updating contacts and fixing quotes has been boring me, so it's about time I do something more external sales. I confidently told her that it wouldn't take me that long to prepare so she asked me to do a mock power point presentation the next day. OMG. She asked me basic questions that I couldn't answer. "What else do we measure Chris?" "Thin Films" "No... what's the name of this company?" "OH OH Yes yes yes, we measure optical properties." Fuck. How long have I been working here? 4 Months? She was patient, but obviously disappointed.

During Thanksgiving my cousins' spouses talked about their first job and how horrible it was until 6 months in when it just all makes sense finally. But this reassurance didn't help me while I was on the chopping board. I did another mock presentation and did much better. When the Korean Representatives came, I was very nervous, but my presentation got pushed back until Friday.

On Thursday was a heavy presentation by others and a dinner with the boss and the reps at Santana Row. I didn't leave the office and drove straight to dinner. There was no parking and I thought I was late. There were awkward silences during the meal when the Korean Reps and my boss has nothing else to say. "Can I get the calamari appetizer?" We already had that for lunch and I decided to chime in, "Oh, Dr. We already had that for lunch!" My boss responds, "Then they can compare which one is better!" Great, now the reps think we have some sort of an obsession and I'm sure they were sick of it. I came home from a 8-9:30 work day and still had to do my presentation; at least I get treated to 3 full expensive meals... bah, my "extra" will never disappear!

With a Tie and nicely gelled hair, I stepped in the conference room shacking hands. My account manager told me. "You re going to be helping with the Korean accounts, so you need to get buddy buddy with these guys.. esp. during lunch" Maybe I'll get promoted faster than I thought, I better stop fucking around." (That's why I haven't been blogging.) We had another company meal at a Sushi place and my account manager warned me, "you drink Chris, right? We're going to be having sake, but keep it on the down low. It's just business, Koreans love to drink."

On the road, the application engineer asked us, "so how much do those threads that you guys wear go for?" Earlier he said I've been looking sharp. I guess he was impressed by how the sales team dresses. But thats sales.

At the Sushi place I found myself more comfortable than the day before because we weren't talking about the company. "How do you say cheers in Korean?" "Kampai!" Or something that sounded like Kampai! I reminisced about NSU. "Kampai everyone." I contributed to the conversation. "In Vietnamese we say, '1, 2, 3 IN!" The reps were amused. The account manager order 3 larger bottles of Sake and it was customary in Korea for people to pour each other's drinks. "This is a dangerous custom," the application engineer was intrigued. "Yes, in Korea we do business from Dinner to Breakfast drinking all night." The Korean guy next to me got blotchy red and poured me more. I participated by pouring Sake into others' cups. They talked about marriage, drinking, some business laughing in between. "If someone doesn't want to drink any more they flip over their sake cup..." I was able to decipher the general manager's thick Korean accent. I was a child in game made for adults. "HAHA, then we can just hand them the whole bottle!" The application engineer was a heavy drinker from Oregon. I decided that since I was presenting after lunch I should stop after 3 shots of sake, I flipped over my cup. "Can I order two more bottles of Sake?" My account manager was playing the game. Fuck... I evaluated the situation. I decided to flip my cup right side up. It's 1pm, it's business, I'm a business man. "Are you okay Chris?" "Yes yes, I'll be fine." I said that about three times. "Hey hey!" The application engineer lifted his cup. Everyone followed. Kampai......

Two hours later, 6 sushi roles and 5 lunch dishes, I was stuffed and tipsy after 6 shots of sake. I have a presentation. I noticed my account manager put on his seat belt for once and the rosary hanging from his rear view mirror. Catholicism wont protect you from drunk driving. I did a small prayer.

We made it into the office. Shit, the boss. I dashed into my cubicle and found a mint. I prayed that he wasn't going to sit in on my presentation. Okay, deep breath. Here we go.

I announced it was my first presentation and the Korean Reps clapped their hands with encouraging smiles. Sake made them very friendly; sake made me comfortable. Even with that, I was tripping over words and I talked really fast. They didn't bother to ask questions. Obviously I was the idiot without answers. 8 Slides later I was done and I took my seat. When they left I went to my cubicle amused at the whole ordeal and felt like a big man. But I still had 2 hours before I could go home.
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The sales support asked me to print 2 documents double sided. Easy. She added a third document and since it was only 16 pages I printed it single sided. After binding everything I noticed the boss talking to sales support and IT. I walked up to him and handed him the documents. "Apparently Christopher likes to play by his own rules." His Iranian accent made him that much scarier. "I asked these to be double sided." "I'm sorry, the document was shorter." OHHhh "so because YOU think it's doesn't need to be double sided you can ignore what I said?" He was excessively harsh. "It's not subjective!" He wasn't yelling, but he was mean. The sales support noticed that my pride was shattered. She said to me, "it's okay." I nodded. The boss' sarcasm was 10 fold a normal person. "I misunderstood..." I had a good day, I stood tall acknowledging my mistake and moved on. But I was very embarrassed in front of every one.

I had two choices: be pissed and leave work or compensate for mistake. The company paid for 3 of my meals and I'm a slacker. Plus I developed business experience with overseas reps. My presentation was fine and I have a job. I decided to stay 15 minutes later to help prepare for the boss' trip to Japan. "If you don't need anything else, I'm going to head off. Have a great trip Dr." I was smiling through my teeth. He nodded and I could tell that he noticed that I was trying.

I rushed out the door trying to forget that the game starts over on Monday.

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