Today my blog is about a personal story that ended up changing my life and the life of my co-worker and dear friend Joey Zhou. I want to share this with you because It’s rare for kindness to be the choice tactic when working with a potential competitor. However, by choosing kindness….In this case, It encouraged a friendship that may never have happened otherwise, and in the end, karma came back around to reward the act. Here’s what happened….
Joey Zhou is one of my closest friends, but it didn’t start out that way. Actually, we are so different, that had we not been hired at Tesla at the same time in our lives, we would have probably never met and definitely never would have been friends. Joey is a young Asian guy. Our cultures are different, our circle of friends are different, but fortunately we both have super luxe cars in common. When Tesla was opening their first Canadian store, somehow we both applied and aside from the fact that neither of us had any experience in the car business, they hired us. We were hired along with 7 other sales people. Everyone was of different ages and backgrounds, but we all believed in the company and the product, so we were excited to be on board. We endured a two week training and hit the ground running selling the first high end electric car on the market. We learned a lot but most importantly we built a life long friendship from it.
I was new to Canada at the time. My husband and I had no money and we were drowning in debt. We had no car and unfortunately it took a 15 minute walk for me to get to the nearest bus station. Then I had to take the bus, followed with two subways after. The entire commute took almost an hour and it was a brutal winter. The whole thing was quite a shock for an LA girl who had never encountered winter at all. At the time I didn’t even own a proper winter coat, I just couldn’t afford it. But somehow, even with the challenges, I persevered. I was the top sales person, most of the time. Every time I would get my numbers to the top, my competitor would be right on my tail. My sales were always neck and neck with Joey Zhou. At the time…I knew Joey a bit, but not like I do now. He and I were the top two sales people and in most cases that would have encouraged a competitive nature. The store certainly tried to do that. They would write each days total sales under your name and taunt you to “beat out” the other sales people. But Joey was alway nice to me, and I was nice back. I think ultimately we were confident in what we could do and chose to rise above the drama of competition.
We started to develop a friendship and he soon offered to pick me up for work. At the time I didn’t realize that it was out of his way, but I was so grateful for the opportunity, so I quickly accepted. After a few weeks he asked the management if we could coordinate our shifts to the same schedule because he was my ride to work. They were shocked, as we were the top two sales people, and they questioned if their sales would drop with us always working the same shifts. Would there be enough qualified prospects for us to both close deals when we were always on the floor at the same time? Honestly, they just weren’t sure. However, we encouraged them that it was not of their concern and somehow they allowed us to follow through with our plan. So over the continuing months, we began to get closer and closer. Our friendship grew and I was no longer having to walk in the cold. It was such a blessing and I was forever grateful.
Long story short, one day I ended up meeting someone who encouraged me to apply for a position at Grand Touring Automobiles. They heard about my sales numbers and it just so happened that they were looking for a new sales person for their team. I quickly applied and patiently waited. After a series of interviews I found out that they were opening a Lamborghini store in Vaughan and I made it clear that I wanted to be there. I loved the brand and I knew that it would be a perfect fit. I told Joey about it and he was so impressed. He continued to tell me that working somewhere like that would be his dream job. Soon after telling him about the opportunity, I was hired. I was thrilled to be moving out of the mall and into the big leagues, but I had to leave working with my friend behind. This was very sad especially after all he had done for me, and it was hard, because deep down I knew he was ready to leave Tesla too. However, he was never jealous or mean about it. He just congratulated me and asked me to keep in touch.
But then something miraculous happened, about three months into my new job, they said they were seeking another sales person for the same location. I instantly thought of Joey and devised a plan to get him hired. Then, I made it my mission to not give up until we were working side by side again. I knew he would be as strong a sales person as anyone, and I would be reunited with my friend, but I also knew that he was very young and they might not trust him with the value of cars he’d be selling.
I told Joey about my plan and begged him to be patient, and not to go anywhere else. However, this proved harder than I expected. The whole thing ended up taking about three more months of him patiently waiting for me to report back with good news. At this time he had left Tesla and was jobless, so he was basically going on faith that I would get the job done. Finally, he got an interview but then it was another month before they acted on it. I rallied for him like no other, I told them about how he spoke Mandarin and how he was born to close deals, and I’m sure they questioned why I cared so much, but most importantly I didn’t give up!
A few weeks later, Joey was hired. He’s now the Aston Martin specialist and I’m the Lamborghini specialist for Grand Touring Automobiles Maple. We work together on a daily basis and we continue to have each other’s backs. We laugh, we strategize, we split deals to help each other out, and most importantly we love what we do and we get to do it with one of our closest friends.
This story is just one example of how taking the high road is the right choice. Joey and I could have easily chosen to hate each other and to compete, but we didn’t, and I so glad for that. I hope this story encourages and inspires you to be kind to others. You never know when it will come back your way, especially when you least expect it.
Be sure to check out my you tube video interview with Joey Zhou, I look forward to your comments!