From Monday through Wednesday, I traveled to Greenville, SC to help my sponsor, Charter Communications, kick off a new sales initiative. Dubbed "Selling for Success"("S4S"), it's a program to improve their customers'experience by training their customer sales representatives to follow a carefully researched call-flow procedure -- or at least, that's what I got out of it. Charter flew call-center managers and other middle-management people to Greenville from regional offices all over the country to spend anywhere from a few days up to three weeks learning from an outside consultant group how to teach their CSRs the new procedure they'd devised.
My job? First of all, to address all the assembled managers, introducing myself and my relationship with the company as my sponsor and trying to draw parallels between what I do as a ski racer and what they do as a company: "Goal setting is important," "You have to be open to changing the way you do things," etc. People were generally pretty nice and forgiving of the fact that I don't have much public-speaking experience, and they listened to what I had to say and asked good questions even though what I was talking about seemed marginally relevant, at best.
Then I had to give a similar presentation six more times to groups of CSRs who work at the Charter call center there. This was a substantially tougher job. Imagine a 24-year-old upper-middle-class white kid in a wheelchair and an Oxford shirt talking to a room full of mostly working-class, mostly-African-American phone operators of varying ages about a sport whose existence they're barely aware of and trying to explain to them why they should try and make more money for the multi-million-dollar corporation they all work for. I got better at it with each talk, but to be honest I've never felt so much like the Man in all my life. I'm only trying to do what Charter asks me to as a way of saying thanks for funding my whole ski season, but the experience left such a bad taste in my mouth.