Cultivating while coordinating the Epoch Times 在協調大紀元工作中修煉 coordinating the Epoch Times|
Cultivating while coordinating the Epoch Times 在協調大紀元工作中修煉 coordinating the Epoch Times
AM05: D Teng - Qld
Greetings, fellow practitioners.
Today, I would like to share some of my cultivation experience in coordinating the Qld Epoch Times.
1. Joining the newspaper and cultivating as a salesperson
I joined the Epoch Times in Queensland in 2011. I had just graduated and finished a Law Degree, and the expectation was that I would become a solicitor. But rather than look for a job in the legal industry – I chose to spend my time in the Epoch Times office trying my hand at making phone calls and generating sales. I guess at the time I had a deep-seated urge to make money for the media and was actually quite keen to be part of the ‘engine room’ of the Epoch Times – despite the fact it was a far cry from the glamour of the legal profession.
我於2011年加入昆士蘭大紀元，那時我剛從法律學士專業畢業，那時的期望是我成為一名律師。然而，我並沒有在法律業尋找工作，而是將時間都花在大紀元辦公室裡：打電話、拉廣告。那時我覺得有一種深深的渴望：為媒體掙錢！而且非常願意成為大紀元 “引擎室”-- 推銷部的一員，即使這些和法律界的那些冠冕堂皇毫不相幹。
My first foray into sales was tough. There was no formal training available except for an old sales manual from a previous project. Further, the company was still very much in its infancy in terms of human resources, financial support and management. It was something we would have to build along the way. Although this wasn’t ideal, I understood at the time that this was an opportunity given by Master for us to build our mighty virtue.
Many times while selling, I’d frequently be frustrated over why deals didn’t close or keep second-guessing myself over whether I was doing the right thing. It was especially difficult when outside visiting businesses asking for advertising. Many times I’d feel completely hopeless and would question if I had made the right decision being in the media. I frequently reminded myself of this phrase from Master:
“Did you know that in order to save you the Buddha once begged for food among everyday people?” – （”True Cultivation” Essentials for Further Advancement）
“你們知道嗎？佛為度你們曾經在常人中要飯...” (“真修”《 精進要旨》)
In hindsight, this period of time is something I cherish dearly. Not only did I go through the process of building a Fa-validation media from the ground up, every rejection and difficulty I encountered doing sales was part of the tempering process for me. At the same time, I had opportunities to remove many attachments.
One incident in particular occurred in 2011. Not long after I joined the sales team, another practitioner also joined. She was a veteran salesperson who had a very direct attitude. Although in the beginning she struggled, in just a few months she had generated a huge amount of advertising for the paper. I was very unused to her personality and was sometimes averse to it.
The sales environment is perfect for removing attachments, such as competitiveness and jealousy. I remember even when I was going to school, I always had deep-seated jealousy towards fellow students who did better than me. Instead of being happy for other people, I would find excuses to explain why the person was doing so well. I would also tell myself that I couldn’t do as well because of external factors that were beyond my control.
In one particular month, this practitioner made a staggering amount of sales and I was left with a strong, burning feeling inside.
I soon recognised that I was extremely jealous and asked Master to help me remove this attachment. It’s hard to describe the feeling of breaking through. It was like something getting surgically extracted from me. The day after – I felt like there was a gaping hole in my body. It must have been a very deep-seated part of my being.
My experience of selling advertising successfully involved constantly breaking through layers upon layers of notions. To reach out to bigger and more profitable businesses, we have to keep improving in our cultivation and our skills and tactics. My understanding is, as we keep progressing forward, Master will arrange for us to reach sentient beings in various sectors.
For example, in order to win business, we may need to invite a client to lunch, sometimes a phone call or email conversation can get a deal done, and in other cases, we need to be persistent and keep following up with the client until they advertise (sometimes this process can take years). Clarifying the truth is always important. We should be determined in saving sentient beings and never give up, Master said:
“You have to get personally involved, cultivate, and go and put things into action. Working hard is part of your cultivation. You need to think of ways to find the people that you are meant to save. All of these are things that Dafa disciples should do.” (20th Anniversary Fa Teaching)
Sometimes I’d have strong notions of fear and complacency, and would avoid doing hard work or following up a client. Sometimes I wouldn’t spend time organising myself better. These seem like minor things… but I feel I’ve missed many opportunities on account of my attachments and hindered Master’s arrangements.
My understanding is how effective we are at saving sentient beings depends on how willing we are to let go of self. I need to assimilate completely to the requirements of the Epoch Times and Fa-Rectification – become a being of the Fa.
2. Learning to be a coordinator at the Epoch Times
In 2013, I was promoted to become the CEO. I was 26. I knew very clearly that I didn’t have all the experience or management skills to run a company. But what I knew I had youth, potential and the heart to do this task well.
When I came into the role, I said to myself that I would never place myself on a ‘pedestal’ and would maintain a humble attitude towards fellow practitioners. I remembered a sharing from another practitioner who said coordinators should be like the ocean – vast and positioned at the lowest level so that all the rivers and streams can flow into it. I have tried my best to abide by this and to maintain an open mind when interacting with practitioners.
At the same time, as the CEO, I have authority and discretion to make major decisions for the company and to direct practitioners. The responsibility is huge. From my understanding, it doesn’t just involve financial implications on an ordinary level; it affects the direction of the media and could affect the cultivation state of practitioners involved. Master has outlined his expectations of coordinators many times:
“Master has entrusted so many Dafa disciples to you, and expects you to lead them well. So it is something you must do, and it is your responsibility. If you don’t do it well, it’s directly related to your cultivation.” – (Fa Teaching at the 2013 Greater New York Fa Conference - Questions and Answers)
Only through studying the Fa regularly and maintaining a good cultivation state can a coordinator carry out his/her duties with wisdom. This is especially important when dealing with Party Culture in the media.
When it came to learning the many different skills of being the CEO – I’ve felt Master always guiding me and giving me opportunities to learn.
One example is reading books, articles and watching videos on various topics relevant to our media, including sales, advertising, marketing and business management. All the material I needed was barely a click or a phone call away. It was really like what Master said:
“Actually, with whatever Dafa disciples do, if you put a bit of heart into it you’ll get twice the results with half the effort. If you ask me, it’s a question of heart.” – Fa Teaching on World Falun Dafa Day
I find whenever our body experiences an incident – whether positive or negative – this is a precious opportunity to improve the company and for me to gain valuable experience.
For example, we recently had issues with our accounts receivable and found a lot of advertising was not being paid on time. Rather than blame the salespeople or accounts person – this was actually an opportunity for us to improve as a body and work on running the company even better. We quickly created a more comprehensive system to chase up accounts, including the relevant letters, notices and a timeframe to work from.
I feel that almost daily there are new opportunities for our body to improve and cultivate. It is like the example Master mentioned in Zhuan Falun:
"If a bottle filled with dirty things is sealed tightly and thrown into water, it will sink all the way to the bottom. You pour out some of its dirty contents. The more you empty the bottle, the higher it will float in the water. If it is emptied entirely, it will float on the surface completely." (Lecture One, Zhuan Falun)
Our body will float upwards until we reach the top. Although my personal cultivation is important – my main concern now is the cultivation state of the whole body. In this regard, I’ve found only through consistent group Fa study and sharing can the body improve together and be more effective at reaching out to sentient beings.
3. Overcoming a major test
One of our biggest tests came in June this year. It started in January when I jokingly made a comment regarding our company’s cash reserves. At that time, we had paid a sum of money for a promotional stall at an expo. I said in jest to my mother: “It’s more exciting if the money dips.” The following months many of our advertisers were not paying on time and our cash reserves steadily declined. When we reached June, a bigger test was awaiting us.
One of the former directors of the paper, who used to be a very diligent practitioner, had encountered major tribulations and was no longer involved. Over the many years he worked at the paper, he contributed much financial and material support. Further, the Epoch Times was renting a property of his to use as the office. It was at this critical moment when the Old Forces exploited the gaps in our body.
Over the course of a month, all the former practitioner’s previous financial and material contributions were removed from the paper for one reason or another. Our lease also expired at the end of June and we were soon notified that we had to find another office. A key staff member also said she was considering leaving the paper because of living pressures at home. While this was all happening, we had to keep the operations of the newspaper running and continue finding new advertisers. To top it all off, our company had just enough cash to keep operating for another two weeks… the path ahead of us was very narrow and we had to navigate it very carefully.
For weeks it was difficult to see hope and how we would get through this. One day while sharing about this incident with my mother, she reminded me of the errant comment I made earlier in the year. For years she had told me to cultivate my speech. I never took her seriously. This time, I learned my lesson and immediately apologised to Master for my mistake. Interestingly, the day after, a major advertising deal we were working on closed.
I recognised the Old Forces were exploiting a gap in our body and were persecuting us through financial means. Being such an influential paper in society, the Old Forces would like nothing more than to see our company collapse. Despite the difficulties, I understood that we needed to endure and keep pushing forward. We couldn’t fall apart as we were responsible for many sentient beings in Queensland.
I looked at the bank balance every day and watched the funds go up and down. I was even reluctant to read emails from the bookkeeper as it made my heart race. One day, my mother said to me: “What’s there to worry about? Let it go, Master is looking after us.” I thought about it and decided she did have a point and as long as we were righteous Master wouldn’t let anything bad happen to us.
For the next few weeks, we kept working hard to push through. One by one we resolved all the issues. We found a very suitable premise to use as an office – practitioners worked together to contribute second-hand furniture, desks, a fridge and all sorts of equipment. We resolved the financial issues for our staff member, continued to get advertisers and slowly but surely got the company finances back into a healthier situation.
The incident re-emphasised the importance of my role as a coordinator and that I should take my role seriously, and not do anything that may jeopardise our body. At the same time, it highlighted to me just how ruthless the Old Forces can be if we do not walk the path Master arranges – the Old Forces are waiting to disrupt and try to take everything away from us.
In recent lectures, Master has highlighted that our media needs to continue improving. Going forward, I feel it’s important to no longer treat the newspaper like a ‘flyer’ or a ‘practice site’. I will work hard to coordinate better and keep improving the business.
I think what has held us back has been our inability to break through our own notions. If we can do this, then this will have a greater effect saving sentient beings. Master said:
“If the media company that you run could really be well-established in mainstream society and truly become a global media company, think about it, wouldn’t it have a tremendous impact in exposing the evil and guiding mankind in a positive direction? And how powerful would it be in saving sentient beings?” - Fa Teaching at the 2013 Greater New York Fa Conference
The above is my understanding at my current level.
Please kindly point out anything inappropriate.
Thank you, Compassionate Master.
Thank you, fellow practitioners.