1974 – Where Were the Occupy Wall Streeter’s When I Needed Them?
My first job out of college was to work for my Dad. My Dad owned a business forms brokerage. I’m not even sure what AB Forms stood for but I do know from my Dad being first in the Yellow Pages was a good thing. Dad was the only full-time employee. Business was good. My older brother Dan had already embarked on his career at a large bank at the time.
I joined my Dad with his company, AB Forms as a sales rep in 1974. We were a force of two. My Mom was the part time administrative support person and the mother of six. I was the future. It was a shaky start. My job was to get new business. I used the phone to solicit appointments. I can remember my voice quaked and my message was ill-prepared. After exhausting all legitimate leads I was proffered, by phone, I hit the road.
My first cold call, “cold” being the vernacular used for an unsolicited visit on an unsuspecting business to make a sales pitch.
I was one of the major contributors as to why there are so many “No Solicitors” signs on doors today and I’m proud of it! Like the polyester plaid I was wearing at the time, rejection wasn’t my strongest suit. I have to admit there were days I couldn’t face the day ahead without becoming physically ill, cramping and vomiting, anticipating the rejection that inevitably lay ahead.
For better or worse, most of the businesses I “solicited” on the south side of Chicago, were unaccustomed to a 21 year old young man in polyester and carrying a “pleather” briefcase showing up at their door. My first “sales call” and I use the term loosely, required considerable surveillance. I drove around the block several times. In the end, it was a relief to just to be dismissed by the prospective customer. Again, I used the term prospect loosely. To hear a simple “no thanks” was a victory, of sort. I had broken the sound barrier. I had made contact with the other side. Soon, I was making 20 cold calls in a day. This was too easy!
Why? Because at the time “no” was “no.” No was a term I could understand. Later after studying Zen I had that “ah ha” moment and I realized “no” meant “yes.” If only I could turn back time. I kid you! On second thought…if only I could turn back time? Wouldn’t you?
Thankfully gas was 30 cents a gallon! My father would get a call from someone I had visited and he would say, “Yes, that’s my son, he’s like manure, he’s spread all over the place.” The message was loud and clear, I needed to take the next step, get to the next level.
Speaking of manure, here’s a great joke from Ronald Reagan, only takes a minute, during one of his speeches. Precious really. Good clean fun!
I needed to convince my prospects I wasn’t just another pretty face in plaid polyester. My contacts were bewildered, annoyed, amused, indifferent or thankfully, on rare occasions, sympathetic to my pitch. It’s simply amazing. As my skin thickened and the manure piled higher, I was able to garner a “maybe” here and there and occasionally a yes! It was the “ying and the yang” thing, to the extent that a Tibetan monk would have been proud.
Later, as a regional director of a large corporation,
at the sage age of 28 years, where I managed more than 70 neophyte sales reps in 10 states, I became well known for the expression, “lose more orders”. My mantra was the more orders you lose, the more opportunities you have to win. Spread that manure!
Anyway, my dad fired me! He put me out of my misery! His too. He said I needed more experience. He was right. I was keeping him too busy spinning his wheels. At the time, I was devastated. I finished the blueberry pancakes my Mom had made me. I left town to seek employment near my fiance. I stayed with the in-laws while looking for work. They loved me!
I painted their house for $70 bucks! I painted their windows shut, so we were even. I found a job right before I was evicted. But there’s more to the story…