vacuumI recently completed 100 days as a door-to-door vacuum salesman. My main goal was to learn salesmanship.
It’s no coincidence that the mascot for the sales profession is the mighty rhinoceros. This is because of its tough, thick skin.
During the 100 days, I knocked on thousands of doors, and was told “No” at about 99% of the homes that answered.
Door-to-door vacuum sales is a seven-day workweek with each day lasting 12-14 hours. One Saturday in March lasted 18 hours.
Not everyone who signed up had rhinoceros skin. During the 100 days, 120 people quit.
Starting out, it was heart-wrenching to work 80+ hours and not even earn a paycheck. For the first few weeks I thought about quitting every single day.
I began with virtually no selling experience, yet developed skills to the level where I was I was the top salesperson in the division and then was promoted to be a Team Leader, which meant that I would go into demonstrations and help close deals for others.
I’m not the best salesman by any means, but I’d say that I learned priceless lessons on communication, psychology and human nature that aren’t taught in any classroom.
The fact is, there’s a steep learning curve, but once you’ve climbed it, you’ll do alright.
The following chart shows my growth during the 100 days
Day Range……………Number of Vacuums Sold
Day 1 – Day 25……………..11
Day 26 – Day 50……………12
Day 51 – Day 75……………22
Day 76 – Day 100………….36
It wasn’t easy, but I believe it’s a skill anyone can develop with enough determination.
With that, I wanted to share some of the best takeaways from my experience.
#1. The best salespeople are effective teachers who enthusiastically demonstrate great products to their clients. Effective salesmanship isn’t about being sleazy and manipulative. The lying/high pressure/pushy sales people sold less because they wouldn’t listen to people, lacked empathy and broke rapport. People buy from people they like and trust.
#2. Many ‘No Soliciting’ signs are put on doors by husbands who don’t want their wives to buy merchandise when they’re gone. About 40% of my sales were from houses that had those signs 🙂
#3. Being inside people’s homes gives you a more authentic experience of a person than meeting them in public. Most people were great and would often share food and life stories with me. One Ethiopian family taught me a folk dance and wanted me to marry their daughter. Another lady gave one of the newbies on my crew a pair of new pants and shirts with a belt.
#4. People from India are the world’s best negotiators. Whenever I entered an Indian home, it was like a baby gazelle slathered in barbecue sauce walking into a den full of hungry lions.
#5. When dealing with strangers, who you are and what you look like speaks volumes louder than your words. The majority of people you briefly meet are judging you by your body language and appearance before you ever say anything. Because of that, everything you say is being filtered by their instant judgment. Paying attention to clothing and hygiene gives you the best chance of making a positive impression. Nonverbal communication is vital to getting into a complete stranger’s house and selling them a $3995 product in 2 hours.
#6. Instead of saying “No” directly, many people will tell white lies and half-truths because they’re not interested or are trying to protect your feelings or give themselves an easy out. This happens about 99.9% of the time when trying to sell people vacuums, but also happens frequently in normal day-to-day interactions.
#7. Women are a lot cleaner than men. However, the women who were the exception seemed to take it to the extreme, and their houses wouldn’t be just dirty, it would be like touring the National Museum of Dirt, Dust and Filth. In terms of cleanliness, the women from Romania, Germany, Guam and Puerto Rico took the most pride in good housekeeping.
#8. Many people are bored/living the same day over and over and over and having a vacuum demonstration may be the most excitement they’ve had in weeks or months. Surprisingly, sometimes people who live in cities are more isolated than those who live in rural areas. Sadly, for widowed older folks, you might be the only social interaction they’ve had in weeks or months.
#9. The majority of the time in door-to-door sales, strangers will mirror your emotions. If you think everyone’s being rude or negative towards you, take pause and look at the common variable in those interactions.
#10. The youngest person who got a vacuum from me was an 18-year old girl who worked at Bed Bath & Beyond. The oldest person was 78 who told me she wasn’t going to buy one many times and then surprised me with a check when I had packed up and was headed out the door.
Now, I’m gonna use that experience and head off onto my next adventure! Stay tuned 🙂

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is a deep wondrous channel that I adore.

Below are some cool entries in to the dictionary that I fancy and here’s a link to check out the whole channel



WHICH DO YOU PREFER-When I was 14, my mom signed me up for an apple pie baking workshop. Although the hours of listening to old lady baking war stories seemed to crawl by slower than molasses, I never would have guessed that it had given me an ace up my chef’s coat sleeve.

For a dozen years now, I’ve kept my recipe and pie baking techniques a secret. But finally am opening the kimono…

And now, here is the secret apple pie recipe that will make your holiday dessert a candy-coated trip to heaven:


(Original recipe makes 1 – 9 inch pie)


Apple Pie Filling

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup Truvia or 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 apples (2 Red Delicious, 2 Gala) – peeled, cored and sliced


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1/3 cup ice cold water
  • OPTIONAL 1/8 cup 2% milk

Prep time 1 hour

Cook time 1 hour

Total time 2 hours



  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, mix flour and salt. Add shortening so there are big gummy crumbs. Add the egg and water and mix until you can make a big dough ball.
  3. Divide the dough in to two smaller same sized balls.
  4. Roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thin and then plop into pie pan.
  5. Replicate the process with the rest of the dough and keep it on the side.
  6. Melt the butter. Scoop in flour and add water, cinnamon, Truvia/white sugar and brown sugar.
  7. Fill the pie pan with the bottom crust in place with apples. The apples should barely be higher than the edge of the pie pan.
  8. Gently pour the sugar and butter liquid over the crust. Pour slowly so that it does not run off.
  9. Use a fork to create ridges on the edge of the bottom crust and then add a little water to the ridges like you would apply lipstick on dry lips.
  10. This water helps form a seal with the top crust when you apply it. Now you can top off the pie with the second glomp of dough. Add a few vent holes to the top piece of crust so the pie doesn’t explode.
  11. OPTIONAL. brush some milk on the crust for a golden appearance.
  12. Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Lower the temperature to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Continue baking for 35 minutes, until apples are soft.

Feast on the pie with people you care about.

Tips and tricks:

  • If you don’t have Red Delicious and Gala apples, be sure to use two different types of apples. This adds a dynamic in taste and texture to the pie. It’s subtle and makes the pie interestingly tasty.
  • When you’re peeling, coring and slicing the apples, douse them in lemon juice. The citric acid prevents them from oxidizing and turning ugly brown.
  • Don’t over fill the pie with apples that are known to be juicy because they will shrink in the oven and your giant looking pie will be hollow when it’s time to be eaten.
  • If you’re not going to make your pie immediately after preparing the dough for the crust, stick them in the refrigerator for 4 hours. Don’t let your crust sit at room temperature for prolonged periods of time.
  • For rolling the dough, use 2 pieces of wax paper and rolling pin. Use your hands to flatten the dough 1/2-1 inch thin and then make a dough s’more, so your dough would be the marshmallow and the wax paper would be the graham crackers.
  • before topping the pie, cut a cool design in to the top crust. Unleash your Applcasso skillz.

2014-11-25 08.39.01

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Where I’m at right now.

Instead of calling the billing department of FreedomPop I just went through sales and asked for help adding service to the device that was out of order.

The call was picked up within a couple of minutes and the customer service representative said he could unblock my device if I just upgraded my account from 2GB/month to another package. I chose the 4GB/month package and now I have access to my device and can use the internet again.

My suggestion is to talk with people in sales. You won’t be on hold for very long and if you buy stuff, they help you out.

As for the device I returned, I received an update saying they never received the device even though the 1 day delivery USPS tracking code said it was delivered last week. Whether I get a $200 refund for the device they erroneously sent me and charged my credit card is a mystery. I’ll let you know.

The short story is that the 4G LTE device works really well in many different areas of Omaha. I live around 72nd and Center St and the device has let me browse the web wherever I’ve been. The device uses the Sprint network for 4G access and you can check out the coverage here.

With that being said, I want to offer a caveat to potential users with more details about my experiences.

In a nutshell, it’s been a relatively crappy experience because of multiple issues.

The long story is that when I tried to order the 4G LTE mobile hotspot online the website kept running into an error while processing the transaction. I tried again and still got the error and then used a different credit card with no luck.

I grudgingly called the company and was on hold for 40 minutes. Finally, the agent said he successfully processed the payment for the device.

I chose the fastest shipping option because I was leaving for a trip the following week and wanted to make sure that it arrived before I left in case there was any problems.

Unfortunately, the device took longer than the stated shipping time (note: the site doesn’t say how long the handling time is) and it arrived the day after I left.

While I was on my trip I noticed that my credit card had a duplicate charge. I was backpacking around Europe and didn’t want an extra $200 charge so I used time on my vacation to try to resolve the issue which Freedompop could not figure out. I placed a claim with my credit card company as well.

When I returned to Omaha, I was puzzled because I had two boxes from Freedompop sitting at my doorstep. At least that explained the duplicate charge.

Grrrr… I had to call up customer service and was on hold for 30 minutes to report that they had sent me two devices. The agent posted a return merchandise alert for my account and emailed me the information for returning the device to get a refund. Before returning the second device, a family friend said they were interested so I was going to let them have it and they would pay me for the device.

They didn’t end up using it so they sent it to Freedompop so I could get the refund. That happened this past week.

Here’s what I’m currently experiencing. The device arrived at the Freedompop returns center in Indiana this past Wednesday. Upon receiving the device, the company shut off all devices on my account including the one I was actually using.

I ended up having to call Freedompop another time (30 or 40 minutes waiting on hold) and I told the agent there was no internet access because apparently my device was not recognized anymore. Then I explained that it may have been because I had just turned in the second device that they sent to me incorrectly. At this point the customer service representative told me that the requested return was not marked on my account and they weren’t expecting the returned device.

To figure out why, he had to set up a ticket and turn off my account. This call occurred on Wednesday, August 13th, 2014. Today is Sunday, August 17th and I haven’t had internet access on my device and haven’t received any updates from the company. As a result, I’ve been using WiFi at coffee shops.

All in all the $200 4G LTE device works like a charm. I used the $20 for 2GB package and had no issues.

Besides that, the issues were a huge annoyance. In trying to get things sorted out I’ve been on calls with them for around 10 hours and at this point have no internet access.

I’m glad the customer service people are nice, but as a business it’s been an earthquake that caused a train wreck that derailed into a field covered in landmines.

Bottom line: you get what you pay for, unless it’s the most expensive device and then you get two of them.

I got a 3Doodler from the Kickstarter campaign a little while ago. It’s pretty awesome!

Check out their site here


FreedomPopI recently moved into a new apartment in Omaha, Nebraska and when I was searching for internet providers, I was a bit sickened by the high prices of major ISPs in the area. The only way you could get a decent rate with any of them is to be locked in to their services for extended periods of time (2 or 3 year contracts!)

As a person who values freedom and mobility, I looked for alternative options.

With a quick Google search, I stumbled on Karma, NetZero, Juno, mobile hotspots from major cellular services, and lastly Freedom Pop. I researched Freedom Pop because you could potentially get internet access for free!

I am a fan of testing free on certain items, so I signed up and got a 4G Photon mobile hot spot. I did this after checking the coverage area on their online map. Apparently, FreedomPop rents out bandwidth from Sprint’s cell towers. Over the past year, Sprint has been upgrading their service to offer robust 4G service all over town. With these things in line, I clicked activate online and began. The cheapest shipping option was supposed to take a week and the moment you click on the ‘Activate’ button, your 30 day free-trial of their premium plan kicks in.

FreedomPop Photon

Does not work in Omaha!

It took about 8 days for the device to arrive. I started charging it. The multiple LED’s had a legend on the device. Regardless, I spent hours trying to get it to work.

It was pretty frustrating, so I put the gadget aside and checked on it in a later date. When I picked it up again, I still couldn’t get it to work. The next day I called up the service line. Be aware that when you call during your lunch hour, you’re doing the same thing as many people around the country. As a result, I was on hold for 45 minutes before I hung up.

I tried again the next day during the afternoon and talked to a customer support person after being on hold for only 20 minutes. The issue I had was resolved. It turns out that the device I had bought was a 4G WiMax hubspot and didn’t work with Sprint’s 4G LTE network.

A couple of weeks later, I called up FreedomPop again to order the 4G LTE mobile hotspot, which costs $199. Surprisingly, I was helped out by the same person who had helped me a couple of weeks earlier. Even more surprising, the representative, name Julius, remembered me and was excited that I was getting more help. He mentioned to me that the customer service department is located in the Philippines and we chatted about life. All in all, when you actually connect with the customer support team, they are fantastic, but the wait can be a huge pain.

So at this junction, I’m waiting for my 4G LTE mobile hotspot to arrive. I will update you on the service quality as soon as I can!