Take a letter
(continued from The Ripple Effect Volume IV…)
On June 14th, 1958, I got in my 1952 Chevy convertible with its ’55 Chevy V8 engine and headed for Cleveland, ready to go to work for The W. Bingham Company. It was a big deal moving from the little town of 30,000 I had grown up in, to a town of nearly one million. The first two weeks I lived in the YMCA. That was an experience. My pastor gave me a letter of introduction to the minister of the little church I planned to attend. I asked him if anyone in the congregation might have room and board available. As it turned out, their son Sam, Jr., who was my age, had just left for college leaving his third-floor bedroom empty. So, the Rev. and Mrs. Sam Nachtigal invited me to live with them.
I began the sales training program as an order picker on the 12th floor, the top floor of the Bingham Building. My daily routine was “picking” customer’s orders, bringing them around to be double checked, and packed for shipment. I was ranked based on the speed and accuracy of the merchandise I picked. There was a lot to learn about where everything was located. I wanted to do a good job.
I moved as fast as I could to continuously improve my scores. As I pushed my cart past the break room some of the guys shouted, “Did you wear your roller skates today, Dennis?” This attempt didn’t slow me down, so when I wasn’t looking, some of them threw extra items in or took items out of my cart, to skew my accuracy. The time went by fast.
After only six months, I was promoted to the office as a Customer Service Coordinator for the hundreds of stores twelve of our salesmen called on. I processed returned goods, issued or denied credits. My job was to report the credit resolution to the hardware store owner, with a copy to our salesman.
This will sound old-school. I generated the correspondence by dictating a letter while my administrative assistant took it down in shorthand. So, by the time I was 20, I had an administrative assistant working for me.
There were many parts of the first six months that were out of my comfort zone, including order pickers trying to slow me down. I learned the importance of being true to my values, instead of conforming for the approval of the crowd.
The action I call you to take is to clarify your core values, write them down, then do your best to live up to them every day.
The benefit you will gain is bedrock confidence and steady progress on your road to success.