Leave That At The Door (Issue 986)

In which we learn to pay attention to obvious and less obvious loyalties and connections.

June 10, 1993 was a to-live-for June day in Boston; the view from mid-way up the Prudential Center was spectacular. That morning, I called on a senior sales training manager at Gillette in the Prudential Center.  He was tall, lanky, and crisply dressed, his moustache precisely trimmed.  This call was a VERY big deal – large company, enormous sales force, highly profitable, one of THE Crown jewel companies in Boston.

We met to discuss sales force business acumen and cross selling. Our conversation developed well, generating several promising ideas. I felt elated.

As the meeting drew to a close, he smiled at me and said, “I’d like to show you something.”

He reached into his upper right desk drawer and pulled out a box large enough to hold a pen. In fact, as he showed me, it was a pen.

“Do you know what this is?” he asked.

“Yes. A pen…..”

“Made by….” he asked?

He motioned for me to hold up my pen. I was using my favorite gold-colored Cross pen. He held his pen next to mine.

“Made by Parker,” I beamed, correctly identifying the pen.

“Yes,” he said. “Gillette owns Parker…. Cross is our competitor.”

He gave me the pen.

“Next time we meet… I suggest you use the Parker pen.”

Who are you calling on? And what’s in your pocket… wallet… driveway… briefcase… living room… office… hand… folio… ?

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