My grandmother let me into her kitchen when I was a child. She was really good at cooking. I can still remember the smell of food when I came to her house. Meatballs, freshly baked bread, waffles. That’s where my dreams of becoming a chef began. I could never work with tools, cars or anything like that. It had to be food. I never became a real chef but I’m a very active hobby chef.
The first time I found out I was good at selling was when I sold coupons to make money for the boy scouts and my football team as a kid. I was always the one who sold most coupons. Instead of asking a person if they wanted to buy one coupon, I asked them if they wanted to buy 12 for the price of 10. Even if I only ended up selling five, my strategy worked. Later, when I sold newspaper subscriptions, I was also the one who sold most subscriptions because I was good at finding the right approach.
I use some of the same strategies today in my job as Key Account Manager. Recently, I worked on a campaign with a big convenience store to make people eat more hotdogs, so we added french hotdogs to their range of products. By doing so the store has increased their profits, and Unibake also benefits because a french hotdog bread is more expensive than a regular hotdog bread. That’s what motivates me about selling. To find the right solution for a customer and make a good deal for them and us.
The best career advice I have ever received came from a store manager at the supermarket I worked in earlier in my career – and where I later became store manager myself. He told me to treat all people well and make sure that everybody gets the same level of service because you never know who your next customer will be. Even if it was a person with a problematic behavior. Treat him or her just as well as a rich person with a full shopping cart. I have lived by that advice and still do today. I have customers who don’t buy anything from us at the moment or only buy in very small amounts. But I still make sure to talk to them regularly and inform them about our innovations.
Food is my passion. I bake four or five times a week and have recently bought a pizza oven so now I also make pizza all the time. Last year I won first prize in the Norwegian guacamole championship. It was a competition made by a big tabloid newspaper, where I sent in my recipe, and then a chef made it. They did a live event with the man in the street where people tasted different kinds of guacamole, and my recipe turned out to be most popular. The recipe, among other things, contained cumin and honey so it was a little bit special. After a while, the newspaper called me because they wanted to buy the recipe. I managed to sell it for 5.000 Norwegian kroner that went to my son’s football team.
During Christmas I made a Christmas calendar for my colleagues. Each day I posted gift ideas and recipes for bread, cookies, chutney, breakfast porridge and of course guacamole. I always have a lot of ideas. When people like them it just makes me happy.
My time as store manager was a big part of my life. I loved being there. I wasn’t the kind of leader who stayed in the office. I was on the floor most of the time, helping out where I could and talking with customers. At one point I wanted to completely renew the supermarket, tear everything out and do a total facelift because the place really needed it. I told my boss that if I wasn’t allowed to do the rebuild, I would quit the job. He said ok, and afterwards we increased our sales, so it was the right decision. I’m not sure if I had actually quit the job though.
Some years ago, I was between jobs, and I helped out an old friend in his grocery store. I had worked in that grocery store nine years earlier. One day I was putting products on a shelf when this old lady walks up to me. I remembered her from my time at the store, and she remembered me. She said, Terje, is that you? Yes, it’s me. Thank God, I thought you had quit... Maybe I hadn’t changed a lot, and maybe the old lady’s memory was a bit off. But that little episode always makes me smile.