In 2009, I received by BA in Literary Journalism from UC Irvine. After graduation I went back home to the San Francisco Bay and began working for my parent’s company, J&J Vending Inc.
It was never my intent to work longer than six months (literary journalism and vending didn’t seem like a good fit), but six months turned into six more months, which turned into nine years this April.
I started in Sales and although I still help with attaining new customers my business card now reads Director of Business Development. I chose the title for myself (#familybusiness) because it seemed like a fitting description of my current responsibilities which consist largely of creating training programs, marketing programs and dreaming up new ways to improve on our existing services.
The only reason I mention any of this is because half the time I have no idea what I’m doing and the other half, I may know what I’m doing now, but I certainly had no idea what I was doing then.
My journalist degree taught me nothing of the business world and although I could have gone back to Business School, it seemed impractical both from a financial standpoint and a time one (time after all is our most precious resource). Instead of going back to school I’ve dedicated myself to self-education in three main forms: podcasts, books and organizations.
Podcasts are my FAVORITE form of education. As I mentioned earlier I still handle sales for J&J as well as account management and emergency product runs which means I spend a lot of time in the car. Podcasts have been a great way to learn as I drive and have served as a way to keep me sane in Bay Area traffic (it’s a real two birds, one stone situation).
Here are two of my favorites:
- Building a Story Brand with Donald Miller – Building a Story Brand helps companies clarify their message; the podcast gives incredible business advice through interviews with experts in their field.
- The School of Greatness with Lewis Holmes – This one is a little all over the place but he interviews incredible people who encourage you to live your greatest life both professionally and personally
Insider Tip: If you spend a lot of time on planes, make sure to download a few episodes before takeoff. You’ll be going to business to school at 35,000 feet.
I am a huge fan of reading and as long as they exist I will always prefer a paper copy over a digital copy because I love writing in the margins. My wish list on Amazon grows faster than I can keep up with it (primarily because people interviewed on podcasts typically have a book they just released). Here are a few of my recent favorites:
- #GIRLBOSS – all of you WIN members grab a copy. In addition to having an inspirational story Sophia Amoruso shares very practical advice on things like hiring/firing, managing money and building a brand
- Take the Stairs – Rory Vaden’s book is a great reminder not to take shortcuts on your way to success
- Essentialism – Greg McKeown’s book is a necessary read for all entrepreneurs who believe they can do it all and who inadvertently take on too much. Everyone has 24 hours in a day; how you spend them is up to you.
- The Customer Rules: The 39 Essential Rules for Delivering Sensational Service – Lee Cockerell uses his time working for Disney to share some best practices when it comes to dealing with customers. I love this one so much it’s now a mandatory read for all employees.
Insider Tip: If you don’t enjoy reading download the Audible App and listen to the book just like you would listen to a podcast. Employees are given the option of reading or listening to The Customer Rules.
I don’t typically like telling people what to do but….if you aren’t a member of your state vending council or NAMA you need to join. In addition to annual meetings and of course the NAMA One Show, these groups offer invaluable networking opportunities (sometimes the greatest lessons we can learn are from peers who are willing to openly share their success stories and their failures).
I’ve only been in the business for nine years now but within these organizations I’ve met people who, like my dad, have been in it for forty plus years; they have paved the way for the industry and in my experience are open to sharing their knowledge.
I’ve also met others on a similar journey as mine, people who found themselves in the business unexpectedly and are throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks. They also have knowledge to share and can be invaluable if only because their existence means you aren’t alone in the wilderness.
In short, never stop learning. Whether you are just now getting started or are nearing retirement, stay hungry for more knowledge. Our industry is continually evolving, business in general is changing and quite simply you can never know enough.
For a full list of book and podcast recommendations visit thevendorsdaughter.com/recommendations
To contact Jennifer directly you can email her at jandjvendinginc.com or follow her on instragram @thevendorsdaughter.