From Austin to Oz. I'm planning to flee the country for 7 months - working for 4 and traveling for 3.
Departure = 03 Sep 2003 / Re-entry = 03 Apr 2004

Monday, October 27, 2003


As of last Thursday (24 Oct), I now have a job! (Insert heaps of relief, here.) Being trilingual, degreed, and with a strong I/T background, what kind of work do you think that I have found after several fruitless weeks of responding to on-line job ads ranging from Lotus Notes DBA to night shift stocker at the local supermarket; phoning people about posted work announcements in the Saturday newspaper spanning from web content editor to night porter for a backpacker hotel; and dropping off my resume at countless bookstores, restaurants, bars, and hwhutnot in search of some little "hobby" that would pay my bills? No, not the spot for "Brothel Hostess/Receptionist" at Intrigue of Marcoola posted in the 11 Oct 2003 edition of the Courier-Mail, (Brisbane's newsrag) -- altho the announcement mentioned "no experience necessary".

Door-to-door salesman.

After searching for about 6 weeks now here in Brisbane and learning that there really isn't much short-term work in Australia outside of Melbourne and Sydney, I am now an independent contractor who goes door-to-door selling discount cards along the line of those Entertainment Books. Sorta like an Avon Man, I guess. It's pure commission, and I get paid between A$10-20 (US$7-14) for every card I sell.

Sales. This is so unlike me. The skeptic that I am towards salespeople, the shoe is now on the other foot. But, I figure that I'm here in Australia to try new experiences, so I took it. I'll only be doing it for 8 weeks, too, so it's an opportunity to learn new skills that I could always use later, right? And, no one else in Brisbane has offered me work (except for door-to-door appointment setting for TimeLife books while traveling around Oz).

So, what is it like to be that guy who at one time or another, knocked on your door offering "the next big something you can't live without"?

I arrive at the office at 10h15 AM, when the other salesmen and I have almost 2 hours of meetings and motivational talk. Then, from noon to about 8 PM (minus a 30/45-min lunch break), I am on my feet, knocking on doors in various Brisbane neighborhoods and trying to persuade people to part with A$35 for a movie rental, restaurant, cinema, or whatever discount card that we are distributing that day. Not very glamorous. Lots of extemporaneous speaking. We return to the office around 8/8h30 PM and have a recap of how our day was, which techniques worked and which did not. Plus, the leaders reiterate the "GIFTS" of good salesmen (or, how salesmen persuade people to buy things):

G - Greed. Using words like "free", "unlimited", "bonus", "2-for-1", etc. answers the question "What's In It For Me?" that customers have while you are explaining the product.

I - Indifference. Present the product and act like you don't care if the customer buys the product or not. That way, you don't appear desperate and the customer believes that s/he is buying something instead of you selling something.

F - Fear of Loss. Mention "well, I started out with 2'000 of these cards and only have 77 left." That makes customers think that they will miss out on a good deal that hundreds of other people have snapped up.

T - The Jones Theory. People are sheep and want everything that their neighbors have > "Keeping up with the Joneses." If you show that other people bought the card, it evaporates skepticism and makes people think that they are not being swindled since all their neighbors are buying the card, too.

S - Sense of Urgency. Tell the customer that you will only be in the neighborhood until 8PM and this is their only opportunity to purchase the discount card. That forces on-the-spot decisions and to "act now, supplies are limited".

And, so, that's it. (And, as a sidenote, I had no idea how many men answer the door wearing nothing but underwear.)

I'm using suncreme / sunlotion and drinking lots of water, since summer has begun here in Australia just a few weeks ago. Also, I am going to start taking a lunch with me because our lunches are usually at fast-food places, which I don't like at all. What good is walking all day going to do me if I eat bad food? Further, I have been taking the train to work, but I will begin riding my bicycle to the office (about a 15-minute ride). That will save me A$2.70 (US$2.00) in trainfare every day.

Things that I don't like:
* Wearing a tie
* Wearing a long-sleeve shirt
* Having to work from 10h15 AM to 8h30 PM every M-F and 10 AM to 5 PM every Saturday
* Not having guaranteed income
* No health insurance
* Lunch is fast-food

Things that I like:
* I get paid in cash at the end of every day.
* I can choose which days that I work. If I want to take a day off, I do. Of course, I won't be paid that day.
* Saturdays are optional, so I probably won't work those days, since I will have already worked almost 60 hours by then.
* I learn about Brisbane neighborhoods
* I am exercising at least 8h every day by walking
* I ride my bike to work

In order to convert my work visa to travel visa (which will allow me to travel in Australia for 3 months after my work visa expires), I need to prove to the Immigration Office that I have at least A$3'000 (US$2'000) in my Australian bank account. I think that I can earn A$3'000 in the 8 weeks (@ A$375/week) that I will have this job. I worked last Friday and Thursday and have already made A$65. Only A$2'935 more to go!


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