Reading “Hershey” by D’Antonio and liking it

Reading Hershey, by D’Antonio, which is ultimately about the Hershey school but with substantial amounts dedicated to the Hershey History.  Hershey was born to a dreamer, charistmatic and a bit of a snake-oil salesman father and a menninite mother (an odd combination).  As a young boy, he went to work at a confectioner (candy shoppe) which were popular at the time, and with his mom’s intervention learned to be a candy maker.  After four unsuccessful tries financed by his mom’s successful farmer family, he found success with a caramel formula he found in Denver then produced locally in Lancaster (PA).  His mom and aunt’s presence were instrumental in his early successees, and he became quite weatlhy when a London importer stumbled upon his caramel and made bulk orders shortly before Hershey’s business went under.  In other words, he was lucky although a hard worker.  Eventually, he sold his caramel business for 1M to a competitor, and bought land in Derry’s Creek to construct a huge factory and town for his chocolates, which were still experimental, dominated by the Swiss (and Cadbury) but new to Americans.  As his huge investment (1M) neared completion, his loyal worker perfected the recipe for milk choclate (earning a 100 USD bonus), and the factory (and town) became a monstrous success.  He used some of this money to build a school for boys at a time when many orphanages were being built to serve the high numbers of poor orphans.

Hershey was lucky and had the support of his family, but also was a hard worker who was dedicated to his craft of making candy, and took a substantial risk in building the what would be the town of Hershey (200K of his 1M windfall was spent in acquiring the land alone, and several of his supports more or less called him crazy for taking on the risk).

This is a fascinating, well-researched, well-written/told story.

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Reading “Hershey” by D’Antonio and liking it

A sign of the times in USA is that it doesn’t make a difference if I mention that I am a customer when I am sales calling

10 years ago if I mentioned to a potential client that I was a customer of their company, they were much more likely to respond to my voice mail or email.  For example, I was having difficulty reaching a Director at Alaska Airlines in that she wouldn’t answer my calls or return my messages (why would she?  Her job description doesn’t include returning calls of Sales Guys); then I mentioned in an email that I was an MVP of her airline – she returned my email that day.  So I did that for awhile, and it worked, except for a regional Pharmacy (who I have not gone to since).  I went to a new role for several years where I didn’t call on places where I was a custtomer.  

The past two years I’ve returned to a role where I have the opportunity to mention people I am a customer.  I’ve mentioned I am a policy holder to Symetra (true), that my office makes field trips to donate to the local blood bank (true), and so on – only one person has returned my message when I’ve mentioned that.  To me, that is a sign of the times – people are too busy and too disposable too care, to give a courtesy return call to someone giving their business to them.  In the 2000s US, we are all out for ourselves (with some exceptions, of course) and not playing in this thing called life as a team.  It is too bad.  It is also a missed opportunity for companies…

A couple of years ago,  I reached a CTO at a rapidly growing start-up company.  He listened to my brief introduction for a moment, then asked if my company was a customer of his company.  “No,” I said.  “Listen, I’m interested, but we try only to do business with companies that do business with us.”  He was sincere and respectful, and honestly I loved it.  He told me if we became a customer of his company, to call him back.  What was the first thing I did?  I marched down the hall to my boss and asked if we could consider taking a look at this CTO’s solutions.  Brilliant.

When companies and/or managers don’t respond to a sales guy who is also a customer, it is a missed opportunity. It also has cost a few companies my business.  And, most importantly, a sign that our country has (temporarily?) lost its soul.

This didn’t happen overnight.  It started in the 80s, when offshoring and layoffs and union-busting and tax breaks that fueled income disparity began. Then post 9/11, when companies became incredibly automated and efficient with fewer workers, it continued.  We are all disposable in 2010s USA.  So of course a VP won’t care that I am a customer of their company, when they don’t know if they will have a job next month due to profit-fueled layoffs and when the bloated company alread has 10s of millions of customersf.

A sign of the times in USA is that it doesn’t make a difference if I mention that I am a customer when I am sales calling

Boeing and WTO calling kettle black: Funny how we claim Airbus gets government subsidies, yet Boeing gets lots of subsidies through tax credits

I used to admire Boeing, but the past few years they’ve come to be just another cog in the Evil Empire that is post-Reagan Corporate America.  They force down wages and benefits by having workers in different states compete for jobs, pay their CEOs 10s of millions and not only pay very little taxes they are actually paid by our government in the form of tax credits.  So it strikes me as odd that the WTO would claim Airbus gets unfair advantages because of their government subsidies — Boeing gets all kinds of subsidies, just through different terminology.  I used to think propaganda didn’t exist in the US – how ignorant I was 🙂

Boeing and WTO calling kettle black: Funny how we claim Airbus gets government subsidies, yet Boeing gets lots of subsidies through tax credits

I absolutely love  when people who used to work for me stay in touch!!

Ond of the things I try to be respectful of as a manager is that when someone from my team leaves, I stress that I’d love to stay in touch (unless they were not a good person and I showed them the door), but I don’t pressure them to stay in touch and give them their distance (although once in a great while I might send a random note that simply says hello an dhope you are well).  So when my team reaches out to me, especially as the months go by, I feel flattered and happy.  The past two weeks not one not two but three people I used to manage reached out to me to ask if I’d like to have coffee/lunch and catch up, and the thing is they know I am not in a position to hire right now which means it is reasonably genuine.  I love hearing from my ex-team, since I truly care about them!

I absolutely love  when people who used to work for me stay in touch!!

Holy Cow, there is no tolerance in Seattle right now…

WHen I was a kid, it was rare when I heard a car horn in Seattle.  In fact, Seattleites were somewhat notorious for not honking.  But I honestly can’t say when the last time was that I walked two blocks without at least one driver blasting the horn at a fellow driver.  Then today, when trying to look how high the Ballard Bridge was, I came across a long series of posts where drivers and boaters are ranting at each other about when and/or if drawbridges should open, and it was pretty toxic and personal in spots.  There is zero tolerance right now for each other.  I don’t blame people, I blame how incredibly maxed out we all are right now.  We are online all the time, we are doing the work by ourselves that two people used to do, and many of us are earning no more — or even less – than we were 10 years ago while costs conintue to go up.  We are all stressed, and of course it is easy to take it out on everyone else all around us.  Wild stuff.  Sad stuff.

BTW From what I could tell, we can survive a jump from the Ballard Bridge. I was curious, because I remember back in 1991 when a car with two unfortunate teens went over the bridge and into the water below, and I always wondered if someone had jumped off the bridge into the water below to attempt to save the girls (from what I read, it wouldn’t have mattered as they likely would have died from the crash itself), would the jumpers have survived?  I think they would have… I still think about those girls several times a month when I am driving over the bridge…

Holy Cow, there is no tolerance in Seattle right now…

I am soooo tired of seeing Trump’s name in the news!!

I don’t like Donald Trump.  I’ve already read about him, know he is scum, know he encouraages bigots to come out of the woodwork, and his only success as a businessman comes from exploiting the system (I love the joke that all his books end with “Chapter 9”).  So I am very tired of seeing his name in every headline and every publication every day.  I will be veeerryyy glad when this election is over.

I am soooo tired of seeing Trump’s name in the news!!

Happiness is getting into a flow at work…

It is so important – in Business Development as much as anything — to get into a flow at work, where I become highly productive with minimimal distractions.  Part of the keys to doing this in Business Development is to get the ducks in a row — get a list of Decision Makers together, develop the message, anticipate the common questions and have collateral ready at the finger tips to send quickly if they ask before scheduling the next steps.  Today I am in a groove – I am making calls, reaching out to people, have everything at my finger tips.  It is awesome!!!

It is much harder to get into a flow with larger companies, where there is a tide of crushing emails taht arrive, where there are endless numbers of meetings and conference calls, and lots of reports.  This is especially true in Sales, where so many Sales people don’t know how to actually keep things going through email, so want to have a “quick chat” that disrupts flow.  I love email because I can let it sit until I have a moment to review it between other things, so in essence it makes it easier to have flow – not just for me, but for everyone.  QUick chats are rarely just quick chats, and they often put a barrier between what might otherwise be flow.

Happiness is getting into a flow at work…