One of the slides at the class I attended asked us to make an honest appraisal of our skills. There were four categories: strengths, weaknesses, talents, and skills/experience. So, here I am, starting with my strengths. If there's anything you'd like to add, please do.
- I'm level-headed. It takes a lot to faze me. I can deal with glitches and setbacks with a minimum of fuss.
- I'm realistic. Sure, you could call this whole opening a bookstore thing a big dream, but I don't have any illusions about what goes into it. It's not all the magical, inspirational hip stuff you see in the books and movies and TV shows where someone "owns a bookshop." Those characters close down and go haring off to chase after plot points whenever they feel like it. They drink trendy coffee with their friends and are wildly successful. Real booksellers don't live in posh apartments and aren't making tons of money. They work - sometimes ten, twelve hours a day. Or more. I know I can kiss vacations goodbye for a while, and that there will be bad customers along with the good. I remember the things that drove me crazy at Booksmith, and I know they'll still be there, waiting, when I open a store of my own. I'm okay with that.
- I'm a good listener. Sometimes it's less about selling someone a book and more about helping them in other ways, or getting to the root of a complaint and figuring out how to fix it.
- I'm articulate. For dealing with publishers and community relations, sometimes it's all in the presentation.
- I'm able to change with the times. I know this sounds like an odd one, but there are booksellers out there who don't have fax machines, let alone e-mail addresses or websites. Some of those who have had to close up shop have fought valiantly to keep up with the changing world of publishing and book-buying trends, but there are others who have failed because they refuse to change. What worked twenty or thirty years ago isn't necessarily going to work now. I might rail against "w00t" being added to the dictionary, but I can adapt to changes in bookselling.
There are a couple of other things I'm thinking of, but I would put them more under talents or skills/experience. Next up is weaknesses, but I want to mull over that one for a while.