My First Job

Original Spanish version published in El Comercio newspaper (Peru) on November 12, 2015 

I wanted to work in advertising. I was fascinated by the idea of working in an advertising agency, moving among the creative team, doing fun things. So, I got the ball rolling! As soon as I returned from studying in New York, I managed (through the friend of a friend of a friend) to get an appointment at J. Walter Thompson.

Thursday, 2:35 pm, ready to go to my first job interview. Wearing a skirt and jacket and with my hair well combed, I left the apartment where I lived with my husband (yes, I married very young), ready to answer the difficult questions I was sure I would be asked. I entered the elevator and bam! The elevator got stuck (or the power went out, I can’t remember) and I was stuck there for almost three hours!!! (That’s when my fear of elevators began.)

Through the door, scared and worried, I asked the custodian to tell my mother to call the agency (cell phones didn’t exist, of course). When they finally got me out, it was almost 5 pm. I rushed to JWT anyway. Can you believe my bad luck?

“It’s okay to think you have to be creative to work in advertising,” the interviewer told me, “but, come on, you are three hours late!” Days later, during a dinner party, I told a friend of my husband’s what had happened, and he found my story so amusing that he offered me a job selling advertising for his magazine, Debate? “Why are you offering me this job?” I asked him. “You could sell ice to an Eskimo,” answered Felipe Ortiz de Zevallos, still laughing at my elevator story (I think he didn’t believe me either). That is how I started making the rounds, briefcase in hand, going from appointment to appointment, and selling from 20 to 25 pages of advertising every two months for that wonderful but no longer existent magazine published by the Apoyo Group.

And with that job, my first one, I was able to help in paying the expenses for Diego, who announced his arrival less than a year after I started happily selling my advertising pages. And you know what? The more my belly grew, the more advertising I sold. I have never been able to explain that phenomenon: I don’t know if it was my hunger to earn, because with Diego came greater responsibilities, or if it was the empathy and affection my clients felt for a hard-working young woman who walked through the door behind her huge belly…

I learned to sell, to deal with clients, and to listen to objections and doubts. I learned to earn my money each month (I only earned commissions, nothing fixed), to make connections and create relationships of trust (many of which I still have 30 years later), to work with discipline, and, above all, to be persevering and dedicated, never taking no for a final answer. While I write these lines, I realize that much of what years later helped me to make DBM (today LHH – DBM) prosper, I learned during that wonderful experience. My first job!

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