Roadblocks or stepping stones?
(continued from The Ripple Effect Volume III …)
A couple of months before graduating, I was devastated when my uncle Jerry O’Neal, General Superintendent of a highway construction business, said he wasn’t going to hire me. This had always been the plan! He said, “There’s something better for you”. After the shock had worn off, I got up the courage to ask John Hancock (yes, this was his real name), The W. Bingham Company’s representative out of Cleveland, OH who called on Congdon’s, “How can I get a job like yours?” That was a big ask. It was hard for me to imagine having a job like his. John always wore a dress hat, suit, tie, and parked his new Cadillac on the curb outside our store.
John had watched me as I moved around the store waiting on customers, stocking shelves and a dozen other things. He said, “Are you serious?” I smiled, “Yes, very serious!” He told me his company had a sales training program for young men who were preparing to join their 100 plus-strong salesforce. “I’ll write headquarters to find out more about it and see if they’ve got any openings.”
I began nagging him week after week, “have you heard from Cleveland? Have you heard from Cleveland yet?” His answer, “No, not yet.”
Then, finally, “They’re expecting you at the office on June 16th,” ten days after my graduation. So, I bought a ticket to Cleveland, I put on my best and only suit, and flew for the first time in my life. John Kaynic, the national sales manager, greeted me in his bigger-than-life manor, “You’ll have a busy day of interviewing, Larry.” I was so self-conscious, way out of my comfort zone. I’ll never forget, the big open area, bright lights, and what must’ve been 50 people. I felt like everyone was staring at me. As nervous as I was, I did my best. I made sure they understood that my intention was to be an outside salesman like John Hancock someday.
At the end of the day, after interviewing with several buyers, the head of personnel, the warehouse manager, and others I met with Mr. Kaynic again. He said, ‘Larry, everybody around here is impressed with you. We would like for you to start in two weeks. (Wow!) Now, I want to tell you something. I told John Hancock not to send you down here. We have the sons of hardware store owners all around the Midwest wanting to work for us, but he sent you anyway. Let that be a lesson to you, never take no for an answer.”
The lesson I learned from this experience is someone is always watching. John Hancock was watching, sizing me up, to see if I could be up to the challenge of “carrying a catalog” someday.
The action I call you to take is to give everything you’ve got to everything you do, go the extra mile, always strive for excellence.
The benefit you will gain, doors will swing open as you climb your ladder of success!