“And the winner of the award for salesperson of the year is non-other than Mike Pelekowski” announced the CEO. There was a massive roar of approval from the crowd. “Mike, Mike, Mike” they chanted with adulation. Mike walked up to the stage winking at the new sales lady that just joined the company. She seemed rather pleased to see this handsome man receive the ultimate sales award. “Say a couple of words, Mike, tell us what makes you such a sales winner,” said the CEO. Mike took the winners’ cup and approached the microphone.
“I just want to say thank…..”
Mike was startled out of his daydream when his Whatsapp suddenly bleeped. It was his sales manager Stan Kitt “Hey Ski, motivational session tomorrow for all the sales reps at the office at 13.00 don’t be late”. With a mouth full of hamburger in his left cheek like a hamster, Mike returned the message with one hand “OK”. Mike shook his head and wondered why, as the top-selling salesperson in the company, he had to attend. He is numero uno in sales this year, and this stuff is for those losers at the other end of the sales scale.
The next day just before one pm, Stan called the sales reps together in the boardroom explaining the reason for the session. Stan closed the door and quickly said: “Guys I met this motivational speaker in Cape Town, and I think we should listen to him”. Before Stan could continue, Thabo Mhlobo asked abruptly: “Who is it? Because the last speaker was a self-righteous dick”. Everybody giggled. Ignoring Thabo, Stan said, “His name is Vettori Bianti, and he will only talk for thirty minutes.” At that, the door opened, and Thandi Mkwebane the HR manager walked in followed by Vettori.
Mike was glad this guy was only going to talk for thirty minutes, he looked scruffy, and was visually unappealing for a motivational speaker. He sarcastically wondered what speaking fee he charged. After the necessary introductions, Vettori arose, “Hello everybody, I am here to tell you to live your life to the full”. Mike looked across at Thabo and rolled his eyes. Thabo agreed with a shake of his head. Vettori continued; “life is precious, no matter your situation, you can make the most out of your circumstances…” at this point Mike lost interest and picked up his cellphone and started to read the news on Google with Vettori’s voice fading into the background.
“Mike, it is Mike Pelekowski, isn’t it?” Mike looked up startled and bemused and saw Vettori staring at him. “Umm yes, its Mike but my friends call me Ski” and with that Mike sheepishly put his cellphone down with the excuse he had to look at an urgent email from a customer.
“So Ski do you agree?”
“Sorry Vettori what were you saying about circumstances?”
“I was saying that I have leukaemia and I’m trying to beat it and live my life to the full, and I am here to encourage you to do the same no matter your circumstances”
“You have leukaemia like that blood cancer thing?”
“Yes Ski” Vettori said softly.
“Oh shit,no way, you’re friggin kidding me bro,where the hell did you get that from,I mean how did you get that and how long have you got to live buddy? Mike blurted.
There was a deathly silence; Mike could feel the eyes of his colleagues burning into him with disgust. He immediately realised what stupid thing he did and could feel the embarrassment rising; his face was turning red. He wanted to dig a hole and jump into it. There was no way out of the situation; it was hopeless. He felt he had to say something but couldn’t find the words. No words. Nothing.
“So in ending I would like to say live fully, live your dream, get going and don’t delay” and with that Vettori wrapped up. Thandi thanked Vettori for sharing such a compelling personal story. Looking around the room and staring intensely at Mike, she urged everybody to take the message and apply it to their lives.
Mike realised he had to do something. He plucked up the courage, “wait wait,” he said, I need to say something” he stood up quickly. “Vettori, geez I apologise for my behaviour, it is completely unacceptable, I should have listened, I feel terrible” Mike felt himself tremble with regret.“Its OK Ski,” said Vettori in a gentle manner. He shook hands with everybody, including Mike, he gave everybody his business card and departed. Mike walked slowly to his desk, staring at the business card and deeply troubled about what he did. Suddenly Stan Kitt appeared behind him, “What’s your problem Ski? you are an embarrassment to the company, and you can be lucky that this is not a dismissable offence, I should fire you anyway and deal with the consequences later.” Before walking away, Stan said, “he did it for free.”
Ski drove home that day wondering if he still had a job. He had to think about his actions. Deep and clear thinking was critical, something he hasn’t done for a while. At home, Mike turned off his cellphone and spent the evening thinking deeply about his ridiculous behaviour.
The next day, overcome by feelings of regret, Mike called Vettori and apologised again. Vettori again said it was OK and gave Mike some sound advice. “Ski, pour your emotional energy into the quality of your life and your work and the outcome will take care of itself.” Now that was good advice, Mike thought to himself.
“Oh Ski, one more thing.”
“Forgive yourself; because regret and guilt don’t bode well for sales success.”
“Noted Vettori thanks.”
“Anyway Ski I gotta go, perhaps we will chat soon again.”
Somewhat bemused Mike thanked Vettori for his gracious advice. They said goodbye and Mike quickly scribbled the advice on a note pad and pledged to forgive himself. Mike felt better in speaking to Vettori. There is always something good about forgiveness. Perhaps it was the fate for them to meet. Mike looked up, smiled and made the next sales call.
The Life and Times Of Mike Pelekowski – By Marcus van Wyk.