Shafiq Amarsi, Amazon Web Services
First Big Spend: A burgundy Mont Blanc pen
As a college graduate in the early 1990s, Amarsi struggled to launch his own company, InterLogic Systems, which specialized in IVR technology for companies with automated phone systems. The first deal he inked was with the government of Ontario, Canada. He re-invested $35,000 back into the company, but after selling the business several years later, Amarsi finally splurged, buying himself a top-of-the-line burgundy Mont Blanc pen, which he still uses to sign his signature on new deals.
Vicente Alvarez, Concordia Healthcare
First Big Spend: Apartment renovations
Navigating his first job as a salesperson with Ikan Solutions, Alvarez was eager to prove himself. The company specialized in selling printers to commercial businesses, and Alvarez was a color specialist. His first sale was to a small school district that was printing everything off-site. In those days, printers were larger, less sophisticated and costly. “The most basic unit was a desktop color copier made by Canon that was over $32,000,” recalled Alvarez. His commission was a nifty $6,000. Upon receiving the paycheck, Alvarez was cautious. “I think I saved it,” he said. “Not to be boring, but at least half of it went into the bank, and with the other half I updated my apartment.”
“With his first commission check Eatmon took his family to Disney World, partly in homage to his role model, Walt Disney.”
Jason Eatmon, Live Eyewear
First Big Spend: A family trip to Disney World
Eatmon began his career in Florida while his wife went back to school. He launched his career at Aflac insurance and discovered he had a gift for sales. “I never thought I could sell anything until I did Aflac,” said Eatmon. Soon after, he gained a reputation for his stellar work ethic, and with his first commission check Eatmon took his family to Disney World, partly in homage to his role model, Walt Disney. “Part of my philosophy is customer service first, then self second,” he said, referring to one of Disney’s tenets. “If you provide the best customer service, people will come to you.”
Amy Slater, Independent sales consultant
First Big Spend: A stereo system
Slater began her sales career with a company called Cable and Wireless. As a salesperson, she sought clients in need of long-distance services. “My colleagues and I would joke that we were selling fractions of minutes for pennies,” she recalled. During those days, Slater walked the streets of San Diego inquiring about companies’ communications needs and, like clockwork, each month she inked thousand-dollar deals, which gave her a steady stream of commission points that she used to purchase electronics from the company catalog. “My first purchase was a stereo system,” she said. Later on, she treated herself to luxury bags and luggage, watches and furniture. “I had things that no regular 24-year-old would have been able to afford.” After her stint at Cable and Wireless, she worked her way up the ladder at other communications giants, including AT&T, while managing a career as a writer, entrepreneur and sales consultant.
Phil Coxon, MotorK
First Big Spend: Paid off debt
Coxon’s first job was as an advertising salesperson at the London-based British National Radio station, where he and his colleagues scoured daily newspapers in search of companies willing to take the leap from print to radio. “This radio station had a lot of affluent listeners,” recalled Coxon. The companies advertised luxury accessories, cars and vacations. The starting price for an advertisement was the equivalent of $52,000, and if he had a good month, Coxon would receive a bonus nearly double his base pay of £700 British pounds, or $900. Upon receiving his first commission, Coxon paid off debt that he’d accumulated as a recent college graduate. “I was living well above my means,” said Coxon, who went on to work at Yahoo as one of the early pioneers of web-based advertising. “I might have also enjoyed a guilt-free celebration drink with friends.”