I enjoy talking with people that I meet in airports and on airplanes. I never know when I will meet a potential client (The Miracle of the Middle Seat), find someone who has read my book (yes, yesterday a complete stranger told me his firm has a dozen copies of "Some Assembly Required: A Networking Guide for Women" as part of his firm's women's initiative), learn about a niche business, or just hear a work related story that makes me laugh in the core of my soul.
Yesterday I flew to Dallas to give a speech. On the flight home to Austin I had a delightful conversation with the two people sitting next to me.
Amanda was an attractive young "twenty-something". If I had not spoken with her I might have assumed she was still a college student. Alas, that judgement could not be farther from the truth.
Amanda has a bachelors degree in Animal Sciences from Texas Tech and a masters degree in Cattle Breeding from the same university.
Having attended San Diego State University, where "Surfing" is an elective course, the fact that these livestock related majors even exist made me laugh. I am a city boy. Animal husbandry is not a profession that I ever would have considered, as there is not much livestock in my native Los Angeles. But my fellow traveler grew up just south of Amarillo, Texas, where such things are the norm. Yes, she had been a 4-H Club member as a kid.
Today Amanda is a sales rep for a company that manufactures nutritional supplements and vitamins for the dairy industry (think Flinstones chewables for cows!). This young professional was on her way to a presentation at Texas A&M University where she and her co-workers were hosting a seminar on bovine nutrition. Cattle feed seminars are not unusual at a school whose nickname is "The Aggies" (Gig Em!). I don't get asked to speak at cattle related conferences, but they do exist!
But this was not her first job out of college. Fresh out of Texas Tech she spent a year selling Bull Semen. Yes, I said it. She sold Bull Sperm. I did not begin my day expecting to meet a former bull semen vendor. See, you never know who you will meet on an airplane. I could not make this up!
She continues to artificially inseminate cows as a side business, as she is licenced to do this (who knew one had to have state approval to do such things... I only have drivers licence!).
Since Marny Lifshen and I wrote the networking book for women I have talked with many women who work in male dominated industries. I think that Amanda wins the prize for the most unique jobs I have ever encountered for a young woman working in a profession that is mostly men. She is easily one or two decades younger than her co-workers in both the dairy feed and bull semen industries, but is very successful in her unique role. She could probably write a book about her experiences. Certainly she could do stand-up using her personal stories, as she had me and the other person in row 23 of the Southwest Airlines flight from Dallas to Austin laughing hysterically.
It was great talking with Amanda. She is another example of Generation Y / Millenials who are taking their career future by the horns (sorry, I could not resist the bull analogy). I was reminded not to assume anything about people whom you encounter. You never know the back story about the people around you. That is why you need to be friendly and ask questions. Listening to others share their life stories can expand your perspective on many aspects of the world.
And that's no BULL!!
Have A Great Day.