Three Cultivation Experiences Working with Shen Yun and the English Epoch Times
Experience Sharing at the 2012 International Fa Conference at the U.S. Capitol
[PureInsight.org] Greetings Master. Greetings fellow practitioners. I’d like to share three of the most important experiences that I have had this past year while working with Shen Yun and at the English Epoch Times in New York City.
My first experience is related to Shen Yun promotions.
This year’s Shen Yun promotions gave me a profound experience. I had personally sold a fairly good amount of tickets during the 2011 Shen Yun performance, so I came into this year’s promotions with high goals and expectations for myself. Besides contacting some media companies for advertising or editorial coverage, the majority of my work with Shen Yun was doing ticket sales at various retail locations on the weekends. The New York City show was in April this year, so the ticket selling shifts started up in February. The coordinator paired up all the team members into groups and often we would be with the same practitioners each week.
The first couple of weekends resulted in no ticket sales from my group. I didn’t think too much of it because I figured that it was the start of this year’s promotions so we had to clear the field a bit, and that I was just getting back into the groove of things. However, several more weekends went by and we still had not sold a single ticket. At this point, I realized that something was not right and really started to look inside for any gaps.
My first thought was related to cooperation. I had the understanding that during ticket selling shifts, we should be focused on selling tickets or sending righteous thoughts. I made an effort to get my Fa study done in the morning so that I could have ample righteous thoughts to carry me through the shift. However, the practitioners I worked with would often take time to study during our shifts. I was a bit bothered by this, but quickly came to the understanding that I should not judge or look down on others, and that I should be compassionate. Perhaps they were going through some tribulations or were not in the best cultivation state, and needed a little extra Fa study to strengthen their righteous thoughts. But I wanted to be responsible so I shared my understanding with my group members so that we could achieve a better effect at selling tickets. We also discussed other ways we could work together better.
With this, we were finally able to start selling some tickets. By now, we were probably half way through the promotional period. Though we had sold some tickets, it still was not nearly enough to be on track to sell out the show. On top of that, I wasn’t selling nearly as many tickets as I did the previous year. Eventually the coordinator broke up my original group as more ticket selling locations opened up. It wasn’t until I was on my own that I discovered where my main shortcomings were.
Because I had done well the previous year, I unknowingly came into this year’s promotions with a strong pursuit to beat my ticket sales from 2011. When I was talking to people, I had been thinking of them as a number to be added to my ticket count rather than as sentient beings to be saved. I was too focused on the transaction itself rather than the true purpose of selling the tickets. I was also over-emphasizing ordinary sales techniques. In retrospect, to the people I talked to, I probably came off as a salesman rather than someone who was genuinely interested in helping them receive an incredible experience. My intention had, in fact, been to validate myself and my sales skills. So I started to change my attitude in order to bring back pure and simple thoughts of just wanting to assist Master in saving sentient beings. I also decided to stop counting my ticket sales so as to relinquish the pursuit of trying to reach a particular number of sales.
With this renewed understanding, more people seemed to purchase tickets from me. However, the overall number of tickets that we needed to sell to fill up the April show was still very large. We were far from our initial benchmark goals. By this time we were perhaps three to four weeks away from the show.
Then, one weekend, I had a very profound enlightenment that helped me tremendously. During one shift, a few groups of people walked up to me, and without my having to say much, they purchased tickets. What these people had in common was that they all knew about the show already. They had perhaps been thinking about going already and I just happened to be there that day in front of them, which gave them that extra little push to make the commitment to go. That day I had one of the smoothest ticket selling experiences ever.
I started to think about what I had experienced that day and came to an important realization. One attachment that I had always had with Shen Yun ticket sales was that I would be disappointed whenever someone would not buy tickets on the spot even after I had a great conversation with them. My heart would be slightly moved every time this happened—and it happened quite often. But now I realized that this was selfish thinking. It was still related to wanting to validate myself and my skills. I came to understand that it was okay if the person doesn’t buy right away and it doesn’t mean that I did a bad job. Perhaps that person was legitimately interested but just not ready to buy, or needed to talk to some friends and family, or needed to check their calendar. But because I was able to communicate the value of Shen Yun, the next time they saw an advertisement or came across another ticket selling site might be enough to help them make the commitment.
That day, I truly understood why we can only succeed at saving sentient beings through Shen Yun if we come together as one body. Few people actually purchase tickets right away after only one point of contact. Marketing statistics say that it takes an average of seven points of contact to make a sale. Practitioners work so hard to promote Shen Yun through so many different channels. Perhaps a person sees a commercial on TV one day, then another day he meets a practitioner at a ticket selling site who explains the show more deeply to him, then he sees an advertisement in the newspaper, and perhaps someone hands him a flier on the train, and finally he runs into another ticket sales site a few weeks later and decides to make the commitment to go.
When I came to this realization, I was able to further let go of myself, and with a pure heart, talk to as many people as I could about the benefits of Shen Yun. The only thing that mattered was to help the entire body to sell more tickets collectively. I was no longer moved when people didn’t buy from me right away. I felt my heart was very light and I felt very happy. Incredibly, after I came to this understanding, more people bought tickets from me the last two weekends of promotions than many of the previous weekends combined!
This also stressed the importance of connecting with as many people as possible, even if it means just handing them a flier. Before, if I couldn’t talk to a person in-depth about Shen Yun because of time constraints, I would just not initiate contact because I thought it would be ineffective. But now I realized that every little thing that we do can help to influence a person to buy tickets. It’s all the little things added together, and the collective efforts of the entire body of practitioners that will achieve the goal of selling out all tickets.
The second experience I’d like to share is related to Sales at English Epoch Times.
I have worked at EET for one year now. It has certainly been an incredible journey. Looking back to just one year ago compared to now, the change in myself as well as in the Sales department environment, has been tremendous. There are many things I could talk about, but I’ll just share some of the most recent enlightenments.
For a little while, there was another member of our team who did things completely different from the rest of us. We had high daily output standards for each sales person. A certain number of phone calls or walk-ins had to be made each day. This practitioner, however, would not just barely miss the mark each day—he was nowhere near meeting the quotas. Because of this, I started to develop negative thoughts towards him. On top of that, he and I got into a few xinxing conflicts as well. When these conflicts occurred, I always knew I was wrong in some regards, but I didn’t want to face up to my shortcomings since this practitioner didn’t face up to his. I wanted him to change himself before I was willing to change myself. I started to really look down on him and judge him. Overall, there was a lot pressure and tension building up in the sales office.
After an incident where this practitioner’s employment had come into question, we were confronted with each other in the office one day. I got quite worked up at that moment and vented all the things that I felt he was doing wrong. The interesting part was that as I was saying these things, I could see that everything I was complaining about was actually stemming from my own attachments. This practitioner was quite calm and compassionately shared with me that day.
After our sharing, I realized that many conflicts happen simply because practitioners have different understandings of how things should be done and are not able to see from the other person’s perspective. This was a profound experience for me that really helped me let go of judging others and resenting others. From our conversation, I came to understand that, as Dafa disciples, we are all studying the same Fa and we all have the same Master. I should never question a fellow practitioner’s intentions, and everyone is trying to do their best at their own levels of understanding. It is okay to have differences as we are all at difference levels and see from different perspectives. I then remembered what another practitioner shared once regarding the compound eye.
Master said in Zhuan Falun: “After reaching an extremely high level and Beyond-Triple-World-Fa cultivation, an eye that resembles a compound eye will form. Specifically, in the upper face a large eye will appear with numerous tiny eyes within it. Some great enlightened people at very high levels have cultivated so many eyes that they are all over their faces. All eyes see things through this large eye, and they can see whatever they want. With one glance, they are able to see all levels.”
The last sentence really stood out to me. “With one glance, they are able to see all levels.” To me that meant that I should be able to see from all levels and be understanding of all perspectives. As Master’s Fa-rectification Dafa Disciples, we are one body just like the compound eye. It is merely that one of us might be looking at it from one angle, while another person is looking at the same issue from another angle. Maybe I’m looking at things from a different angle than this other practitioner. No perspective is wrong—they are just different. We should, thus, also be able to let go of our own perspectives and be understanding of others. This is an important step towards better cooperation.
With this understanding, immediately my compassion and tolerance for other practitioners increased. I also came to realize that doubting or looking down on other practitioners is, in a way, not trusting Master. Master is personally looking after each and every one of us. He has arranged our paths and has set up all the tribulations and challenges that we face. If I question other practitioners, it’s like I’m questioning Master’s arrangements. In my understanding, this equates to a lack of faith in Master.
This experience also re-emphasized another point. When I get into a conflict, whether the other person did something wrong or not, I should only look inside myself and improve myself unconditionally.
Master said in “Who’s Right, Who’s Wrong” in Hong Yin III:
“As a cultivator
One always looks for one’s own faults
‘Tis the Way to get rid of attachments most effectively
There’s no way to skip ordeals, big or small
[During a conflict, if you can remember:]
And I’m wrong,’
What’s to dispute?”
If we can all really let go of our own ideas, and see all perspectives like the compound eye, wouldn’t that make our cooperation that much better? Wouldn’t that help our truth clarification projects be that much more effective?
The last experience I’d like to share about is also related to sales at EET.
For many of our Dafa media, entering into a positive financial cycle has been the biggest challenge. This has certainly been the case for us at EET in NYC. The past year has been a roller coaster ride in terms on the revenues we have brought in month to month. We had been through a lot of significant changes and at times, it really felt like there was no hope and that the team was falling apart.
For me, I reflected on how we conducted our sales. We were used to using hard sell techniques and putting a lot of pressure on our prospects. I felt like I was going into a battle and fighting with these prospects whenever I went into a sales appointment. Also, I was often not truthful about certain things like our circulation numbers and would promise a great response from an ad when I really wasn’t sure how the response would be. There was something that didn’t feel right to me about how we were conducting our sales, and our revenues seemed to reflect it.
A few months ago, we really hit a critical point and the company was forced to make some significant changes. Besides changing our distribution strategy, we also invested in hiring a non-practitioner to come and train us. This person is a leading advertising strategist and has been a newspaper consultant for over 16 years. He has worked with over 400 newspapers around the world. He came to NYC and trained us one weekend and we have been implementing his strategies ever since.
His methods are truly very good. What surprised me the most though, was that his whole sales process is very righteous, virtuous, and in line with the Fa principles. He stresses things like never arguing with prospects, educating them through a consultation process, and how to create accurate recommendations that could honesty bring profits to advertisers. Overall, his methods really emphasize caring for the customers’ needs and thinking of what’s best for them first, as opposed to before where we were just focused on our needs and how we can bring in the most money.
Since the training, our team has renewed confidence in the job we are doing and the dynamic in the sales office has completely changed. We have gone from the mentality of making a transaction to the mentality of earning a client. Besides the actual sales strategy training, we have also been looking inside ourselves and sharing about how we can better cooperate and work together. Where there was pressure, tension, and competition, now there is much more compassion, sincerity, and genuine empathy for each other and our advertisers.
Interestingly enough, there is a sentence in Zhuan Falun that specifically addresses the issue of sales that I have read many, many times, but failed to really grasp until now.
Master said in Zhuan Falun: “As long as your heart is righteous and you trade fairly, you deserve to earn more money if you make more effort.”
I have been thinking about this sentence a lot recently. What is considered a righteous heart? Being honest and sincere? What does trading fairly entail? Exchanging services for a price that’s fair for the advertiser and for us? Does that mean not giving out ridiculously reduced rates? How can I put in more effort? These are all questions I have been thinking about.
My understanding is that how well we do during Fa-rectification depends on how well we can adhere to the Fa taught by Master. If we don’t adhere to the Fa, we will run into all sorts of unnecessary tribulations and challenges. From this experience, I have learned to really think about Master’s words carefully and to consciously apply them.
All in all, I feel like we are back on the right track and I feel very confident about our future. Master has told us that we will be the biggest print media in the world and I have faith that it will certainly be so. I am very grateful to Master for all the experiences he has given me and will strive to do even better at assisting Master in Fa-rectification and saving sentient beings.
Thank you fellow practitioners. Thank you Master.