February 27

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Leaving Coke Alone To Take Success By Force…

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After receiving well over a thousand rejection letters from liquor organizations over the years, I attempted to follow my passions for the beverage industry to the non-alcoholic side. Equipped with previous mid-level sales experience as the former Northeast Regional Sales and Marketing Manager for L’Oreal, USA and coupled with two new Master Degrees (MBA in Marketing and Human Resources), I settled for an entry level position at a major soft drink bottler out of the desperate need to find a job after being denied two other more suitable roles with the organization.  In June 2014, my job primarily entailed stocking approximately 30,000 cases a month of soda pop on the shelves of large grocery stores as a Merchandiser Supervisor. As a supervisor, I managed forty front line employees who stocked the shelves of 75 large grocery retailers. Due to the high turnover rate, a supervisory team that was once composed of six people had dwindled down to just me after only three months on the job. The pressure to keep soda on the shelves in Texas would surpass anyone’s understanding as the Houston, Texas area ranks number one in North America for this particular bottler. Nonetheless, those shelves came crashing down on me in February 2015 after only eight months on the job.

So, unannounced to my family or friends, one year ago today on February 26, 2015, I walked away in the pursuit of happiness and knowing that I deserved more out of life than being stuck in an unappreciated role within the company. It seemed that this hugely successful beverage supplier thought nothing of my talents and education and placed me in a mediocre role with no action plan of a definite career path to a more professionally, suitable position. As a native city guy who was  raised and lived in the nations most largest cities of Chicago, New York, Atlanta, and Houston I felt stuck and stranded in the small country town of Beaumont, Texas after relocating myself there (90 miles east) from Houston, Texas.

Pic 2Additionally, there was significant other work related matters that contributed and weighed heavily in my decision to leave the beverage giant. The ultimate reason was that I knew my own worth and value and that I deserved more. I realized that I had worked extremely hard and made many sacrifices in my life to gain a quality education so that I could expand my opportunities in life. Instead, it felt that I had been put back years and multiple levels within my career at the soft drink manufacturer. Whereas only 12% of my peers across the nation possessed a bachelor’s degree, most likely I was the only one nationwide to hold two Masters Degrees while working in this entry level role. I knew that in order for me to exponentially increase my potential in life, I would have to leave.

Pic 3However before leaving, I wrote to over a dozen executives in the organization via email and flew myself to Atlanta, Georgia to the North America headquarters to meet with several other Vice Presidents to express my love for the company. I requested each of their assistance in fostering my development within the organization to get me out of the weeds of a position that I held, knowing that I was capable of being a bigger asset in a more suitable role for my experience. Unfortunately, there seemed to be no desire to retain my talent as everyone responded alike, “you would have to wait 18 months to qualify for another position.” It was very disheartening to hear over and over, and I knew that I would feel like hell if I chose to stay another year in the same role at that point and even still there was no guarantee of advancement. As a result, I chose happiness and was pleased to know that I had reached a level of self-actualization that gave me the power to choose happiness over unhappiness and not remain a victim of my circumstances.

Although society has dealt me a different hand in life while striving to achieve success, I will not let it deter me from my quest. It only forces me to snatch victory by force. It’s a very disparaging feeling when you are twice as smart, work twice as hard to only be considered as not qualified.  I am currently enrolled in a Doctor of Education degree program concentrating in Organizational Leadership, and I do guest lecturing at universities on “Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Discovering Your Passion, Conflict Management, Emotional Intelligence, and Reinventing Yourself.” I encourage, motivate and inspire students to think beyond traditional boundaries to create the future of business. I am also the founder of Cocktail Chronicles, an online digital media publication that empowers consumers with information about their beverage choices (both alcohol and non-alcohol). Since its launch in September 2015, the release has garnered over 16,000 monthly followers and is continuously growing daily.

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While I made a brave decision that took a lot of faith and courage, I am happier and surviving independently as an entrepreneur. I’ve learned to pursue my dreams while still scared, realizing the fear will never go away and you just sometimes have to do it scared. My current goal is to be the leading source of beverage industry news. I encourage each of you to never give up on your dreams, always look at the glass half full and be willing to pave your way when doors are closed in your face. Please continue to follow and support the fastest growing online digital media publication on beverages at www.cocktailchron.com.

Kindest and best regards,

Je’ Wesley Day, Founder of Cocktail Chronicles