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

I have gone from being The Idea Guy to being timid and afraid to trying new things at the office

When I was teaching, I revamped the curriculum for several of my classes to great effect (significant increases in enrollment).  Then when I went into Corporate America, I couldn’t believe how uncreative and lethargic everyone was.  Basically, one company or SVP would roll something out, then everyone would copy that.  How boring that was, so I started proposing lots of new ideas.  I even went so far to proposing an idea a month to our SVP (of a Fortune 500 company), who called me The Idea Guy during a speech in front of 500+ people, basically encouraging others to do the same.  Sometimes my ideas were marketing ideas, and sometimes they were product ideas (my favorite was the watch that would detect a heart attack and the bra that would detect rape, both of which were sent to me years later by peers after other startups got funding for similar ideas).

Sometimes this got me into trouble, and sometimes it had great effect (I made good extra money working on marketing on the side and a few of my ideas got me a few extra contracts).  But the past few years, with my illness combined with working for two awful companies in a row, I am afraid. I am afraid to propose something silly then have it cost me my job.  In short, my confidence is tattered.  I’ve got to get it back. One of the things that made me effective was no fear – if a wild idea got me in hot water, no big deal, off to the next one.  It hurt me a few times, but more often than not it gave me an edge.  

I have gone from being The Idea Guy to being timid and afraid to trying new things at the office

I hope there is a special place in Hell for the person who approved TVs for gas pumps… :)

It is bad enough to hear the TVs blathering in shopping malls, department stores, airports and sports bars.  Now there are more and more gas pumps with televisions installed in them, so I am forced to listen to ads and talking heads while I fill my tank with Earth-destroying gasoline.  There are soooooo many things that we could invent or implement if we had no sense of human dignity, one of them being TVs installed in gas pumps, but we don’t – so who was the Sadistic Person from Hell who approved TVs for Gas Pumps?  Where is their sense of common decency?   Please, for the love god, let me fill my tank in peace! 🙂  (Note: I am half kidding here.  I don’t wish the person to hell, but do wish they would take the TVs out of all these places so I don’t have to listen to these incessant talking heads!).

I hope there is a special place in Hell for the person who approved TVs for gas pumps… :)