Landlord Proxy

My university is about an hour (by car) away from the city (let’s call it The City) where my brother owns a condo. Since my brother is so busy with medical school, my dad generally handles most of the landlord responsibilities. He flew up this last weekend to show the condo to some potential tenants, so I met up with him in The City.

Aside: Whenever I type “The City”, I keep thinking about The Emerald City in Wicked / The Wizard of Oz. I’m seriously addicted to that musical!

I don’t have a car, so I had to use public transportation to get from my apartment at the university to the condo in The City. For some strange reason, the campus shuttles don’t run on weekends, so I had to walk about half a mile to the nearest public bus stop. I took a short bus ride to the train station, where I then took a 40 minute train ride to the nearest subway station (it’s not exactly a subway, but close enough). The subway took about 35 minutes to get to the station closest to my brother’s condo. Door to door, the whole journey took nearly three hours.

Out of four potential tenants, three of them flaked on their appointments. The one who didn’t flake didn’t seem very enthusiastic about the condo. She spent only about five minutes looking around before saying that she liked it but was still looking at a few other places too. Not a good sign.

My dad and I almost started thinking that the weekend trip was wasted until someone called my dad asking to see the condo a little later in the day. The guy who called turned out to be a potential tenant who had originally flaked but actually just wanted to reschedule. About an hour later, the guy showed up at the condo.

He was really cute/hot. He brought his girlfriend along, but we don’t care about her. He was really cute/hot. He had a great personality, an amazing smile, and he spoke fluent French! Be still, my heart. I know, I’m terrible. I would be the worst landlord.

My dad wasn’t selling the condo very well, so I became more proactive in showcasing the highlights. I certainly learned a lot in my brief stint as a salesman! I actually love my brother’s condo, and it’s easy to sell a product you actually believe in. The potential tenant and his girlfriend stayed for nearly an hour.

Long story short, the cute/hot potential tenant was very interested, and it looks like he’s definitely going to be the new tenant! Out of everyone in my family, I live the closest to the condo, so I will be acting as a mini-landlord (or, more accurately, a landlord proxy). I have my own set of keys to the condo, as well as the two sets we’ll be giving to the tenants. I will probably have to make another trip to The City next weekend so that the tenants can sign the lease. It’s a long trip, but at least I’ll get to see the cute/hot tenant again!


Accounts Receivable

My accounting job so far is pretty fun. It’s a lot less stressful than sales, but it’s not necessarily easy either. I’m currently in charge of accounts receivable (AR), but I’m eventually supposed to be fully trained in accounts payable (AP) as well. Besides my boss who oversees the whole department, there is only one person doing accounts payable (just like I’m the only person doing accounts receivable). Once I’m up to speed, either one of us can cover for the other if necessary.

Learning my basic everyday responsibilities was pretty easy; it took about two days, and those days weren’t all that busy. The real challenge (and the real fun) comes from working on my “AR Aging Report,” which is a list of all our customers who have outstanding invoices and how much they owe. I have to contact the customers with past due invoices and find out why they haven’t paid us yet. Of course, if there are invoices from six months ago (for example), there must be a reason why. The researching and investigating into the stories behind everything is really interesting. I love knowing things, and the research sometimes feels like a puzzle game. If and when a situation is resolved, I get to check it off my list, which is a great feeling.

On a related note, I think that working in sales for a while helps me appreciate and understand the accounting side of business more than if I hadn’t worked in sales. Our accounting department is in its own little world, off in the far corner of the building. If I hadn’t had exposure to other departments first, I would only see numbers going in and out. But since I’ve worked with our products and customers first hand, the numbers, orders, and invoices all have more meaning. The girl who works in AP only does accounting, so I don’t think she’s quite as excited as I am over everything (though she does have an associate’s degree in accounting, so she at least knows what she’s doing, whereas I’m picking it up as I go along).

Anyway. I feel a lot less stress throughout the day, and I find the work is fascinating. I worked late tonight because I was having fun researching for my AR Aging Report. It’s almost like when I was in college and used to do my math homework on Friday nights just because I was so into it (yeah I was a big nerd).

Disclaimer: I don’t think I’m doing real accounting just yet. It’s too early to tell whether I would want to become an accountant professionally. But for now, I’m having fun learning.

One More Week In Sales

The countdown is on. The official date of my move to accounting is February 17th (next Tuesday), so I only have one more week of being in sales. Most of my responsibilities have been transferred away now; I mostly just make sure the little things are done and done properly. My boss/friend will be away toward the end of the week, so I’ll be watching the sales team during that time too.

In addition, my boss/friend, my replacement, and I all took a trip down to my biggest client’s office today to tell them that I will no longer be managing their account and that my replacement would be taking over. My primary contact played it off during the meeting like it wasn’t a big deal, but when I got back to the office, he messaged me online (and called me later) to express how upset he was (in a completely macho manly way) that I was leaving and didn’t tell him sooner (as if it would make a difference). I never really thought he liked me all that much (he always got along better with my boss/friend), so it was interesting (and nice) to see his reaction.

I can feel the end coming. I’m both excited about moving to accounting and sentimental about leaving sales. Yes, I never felt entirely comfortable/suited/adequate in sales, but I think I gained a lot from working in it. Hopefully I will gain a lot from my accounting job as well.

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Too Reliable

As I mentioned in a previous post, my boss/friend has hired a whole new team of salespeople. Because everyone is new and still require a lot of training, my boss/friend uses me as his go-to guy. Whenever he needs an immediate answer on the status of almost anything, he’ll ask me and I can answer it (usually right away). When he needs something done quickly and accurately, he’ll ask me to do it. He never has to check my work (I’m more detail oriented than he is), and he always knows that he doesn’t need to worry about anything after he tells me to do it. He trusts me.

The problem is that he (and the rest of the sales department) is (are) relying on me too much. Maybe it’s my personality or my work ethic, but I’m too reliable. I’ve spoiled my boss/friend by making sure he never has to worry about the little details. There are a lot of things that he can’t trust other people to do yet, so he continues to ask me. How is he ever going to let me move to the accounting department if he always has to ask me for help?

Another problem is that my replacement is not learning fast enough. It took me many months of struggling, stressing out, and getting yelled at by my boss/friend to get to where I am now, but my replacement doesn’t have the luxury of time. The original goal was for me to transfer in about a week and a half, but that might not be enough time. Maybe I’ll never leave sales!

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New Again

My sales replacement is learning, but the progress seems slow. There is a lot to learn, so I’m not sure what is the best way to impart my knowledge. The president of the company seems anxious for me to switch to the accounting department (I think he has high hopes that I can relieve some duties from the operations manager who is handling most of the accounting department herself), but I feel like there’s a long way to go before that can happen. I guess we’ll see what happens in the next couple weeks.

In addition to my replacement, my boss/friend hired three other new salespeople (he’s really pushing to expand his sales team quickly). Since I’m the only “old” salesperson at the company who knows pretty much everything about our company’s products and processes, my friend/boss sometimes asks me to help train the new people. It makes me feel like I’m second in command (which is a great feeling).

Of course, when I move to accounting, I’m going to be at the bottom of the food chain again. I’m going to be the new person who doesn’t know anything (except that I’ll already be somewhat familiar with some of our internal procedures). It will be interesting to be on the other side of the fence again.

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My official transition from sales to accounting won’t happen for about a month. My boss wants to find a replacement for me before I make the move. In the meantime, he’s being just as hard on me as ever (I wouldn’t have expected any less).

I understand why he’s so hard on me, too. As long as I’m under his supervision, he’s trying to teach me as much as possible. I’m currently (very slowly) working on a PowerPoint presentation for a potential (huge) client. I’ve never used PowerPoint, and I haven’t really had to prepare formal presentations quite like this before. My boss understands that it’s difficult to prepare, but he still insists that I work on it as if it’s my own potential new account, even though I will leave the sales department before there are any results.

In the end, even though I tend to paint a picture of my boss always yelling at me, I know that my boss has always been supporting me and wanting what’s best for me. He only pushes me so hard because he expects so much from me. At the same time, it’s difficult to be his friend when all we talk about is work; it’s not always easy to separate business and friendship (you may have noticed at some point that I stopped using the term boss/friend). Hopefully after I move to the accounting department, I can refer to my boss as just my friend again.

My Own Two Feet

After a few days with my friends in Las Vegas, talking to them and thinking about my future, I decided to accept the accounting position. While the end decision seems like the obvious choice, I didn’t make the choice easily.

Before I revealed my final decision, I had a talk with the operations manager (who will be my supervisor). She told me the initial salary, which, as I expected, is a substantial pay cut. But there is room to grow. Beyond the starting job description, I can take on more roles within the accounting department and maybe eventually manage the whole department so that the operations manager can focus on her myriad of other responsibilities. Even further than that, I could end up as the controller, controlling all the finances for the company. If I end up liking accounting and deciding to pursue it outside of my company, the growth potential is even greater.

When I told my boss my decision, he didn’t seem surprised or upset. I think he already knew what I would choose; he knows me pretty well. From here, he’s going to talk to the operations manager to see when exactly the transition will happen. He’s hoping to find a replacement for me before I make the move, but the operations manager is pretty anxious for someone to help her handle her accounting responsibilities (she really has too many things to do).

All the friends to whom I’ve talked to about this (including a few coworker friends) thought that changing to accounting was a good idea. I guess I made it well known that I wasn’t too happy with my sales job. However, when I told my parents over dinner, they seemed shocked that I would make such a decision. Because I’m “lucky” and “do well at sales,” they thought I should stay in sales because of the potential financial returns. My mom was especially upset by my low starting salary, exclaiming that with my master’s degree, the amount was absurd (I’m paraphrasing, but it’s an equivalent sentiment). I had to explain all my reasoning to them, but I still don’t think I convinced them.

In many ways, this change is important for me. Not only does this mean I get to leave sales behind, but I also feel like I’m standing on my own two feet. The fact that I made this decision based on what I think is best, knowing full well that my parents thought otherwise, is a big step for me. Even though I’ll be making less money for a while, I think I made the right choice.