“What you lack in talent can be made up with desire, hustle, and giving 110% all the time.” – Don Zimmer
Leah Wilczewski is one of five kids she danced, played piano and acted for her entire childhood. She did ballet from age three to twelve, but at the age of twelve, she felt like she wasn’t being challenged enough mentally anymore. She loved the way the music felt when dancing and how she was in a piece of artwork. She wrestled with this while she saw acting students continue working on stuff and improving which ballet was no longer giving her.
So, at age twelve she quit ballet, and it was a painful difficult transition, but acting felt right to her. Leah vividly remembers watching Les Misérables live on PBS for their 25th anniversary with her dad she fell asleep that night thinking “This is it, this is what I want to do with my life.” She is extremely grateful that she had that realization so early in her life.
Her Teenage Years
During these years Leah dove into acting. One summer she, and some of her siblings, got a scholarship for a girl’s Shakespeare group in the Heart of American Shakespeare Festival. After that summer, she continued to study with them for six years. For the first two years that she was there she didn’t get paid but she didn’t care because she loved the work that much. She got her first paycheck for acting at age fifteen and was over the moon excited. She continued to pursue acting further by getting an agent and did a lot of local work.
Her College Experience
Leah wanted to experience an intense hard-working environment if she was going to go to college for acting. Unfortunately, the amount of debt that it would’ve put her in made her weary to accept any offers. She looked into moving to NYC and jumping into the acting scene there since she already had connections.
Money was a reoccurring issue with this plan too, but Leah remembered way back at the beginning of the college admissions process she applied for Praxis. Praxis is a business apprenticeship program with a six-month boot camp and a six-month apprenticeship. She talked to her parents about doing it, and they agreed it was a good plan.
Leah is now twenty-one and working an inside sales rep for Impossible Foods, mentioning that her background in acting, ballet and more has helped her to be a better saleswoman. She’s showing up every day and giving 110%, even though she isn’t an extrovert she is confident that you do not have to be one to be successful in sales.
In her mind all one has to do to be successful is to meet your customers where they are at, listening, and having patience understanding that they are taking time out of their day just like you are. She stays refreshed by making sure that she gives herself time to recharge, so that may look like doing ten calls then taking a break and doing ten emails. A helpful tip Leah suggested was to use a script when first starting, so you at least know the key points, and it is not something to be ashamed of. Leah is grateful that she is in insider sales so she can focus more on building a relationship than reaching out or being showy.
One valuable bit of advice that Leah said was “you can be a really powerful salesperson by using your tactic more than your attack.” Simply meaning in sales you do not have to be the razzle-dazzle, in your face, energy constantly on to be a good person in sales. There is power in the little things that you do especially when it comes to building relationships and truly caring for your customers. Leah mentioned how she gets inspired weekly by stories that come in from their customers, and it is one of the things that keeps her going and striving for more.
Hard skills that she considers necessary in a sales role include: writing, constructing emails properly, conversing with your supervisor well. Leah wasn’t familiar with any of the software when first joining Impossible Foods which is a mountain that she gracefully surfaced despite a few expected bumps in the road.
Now Leah is almost done with her apprenticeship, she wants to work remotely and move to NYC to get into the acting scene there. She is extremely happy with her decision to do Praxis and build up that tool belt. She is confident that because of the security a job will bring to her life in NYC she will be able to walk into auditions confidently. Often actors in NYC will get desperate and need another gig or job to survive, her year in Praxis was time well spent to lift the weight of that off of her shoulders.
This concludes my interview with Leah, I can truthfully say that it was a joy talking to her I gained a lot of knowledge about sales and life in general. I am so excited for her and am cannot wait to see all that she accomplishes with the rest of her life, she is a hustler and will go out there and get whatever she puts her mind to.