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The Billion Dollar Phone Call….that I ignored

Lightning Bottle

When I first moved into marketing, I was assigned to an emerging technology that was slow to take off. Years of failed promises had management out of patience. Our small marketing team had to be careful how we spent our time. Rule #1: ”Never talk to anyone that can not place a 100,000 unit order.” There were plenty of small start-ups that wanted our attention but it took the same amount of time to send samples to Sony or Apple as it did to send samples to Bob who was developing a product on his kitchen table.

With this mindset, I answered my first phone call from Stefan. He wanted samples but he worked for a company I’d never heard of. I brushed him off. The next week, I received another phone call from Stefan. Same request. Same friendly, unassuming voice. Same result. I brushed him off. This went on for months. I quit picking up the phone and let it go to voice mail. Every week, I heard the same friendly, humble request. “Please call me back…”

One week, at our staff meeting, someone asked, “Who is Stefan? I’m getting a phone call from him every week.” We all responded, “Me, too!” Somehow, Stefan had identified all the marketing contacts for this technology and made weekly phone calls to each of us. We all admired his persistence and the fact that he remained pleasant, even after ignoring him for months. We agreed to just give him some samples at no charge. He obviously wanted them badly. It was my job to call and let him know.

As it turns out, Stefan was the president of a small company developing a debugging tool to help people design our technology into their products. This was something we’d never even considered. It was vitally important to the success of the technology. If Stefan had never received his samples, the roll out of this technology would have been delayed again, my management would have pulled the plug and I never would have spent 15 years traveling the globe to promote this technology.

Stefan went on to become a major player in this billion dollar industry and to build a successful company which he sold for a small fortune. Years later, I was in town and gave him a call. He was delighted and took me to dinner in his shiny red Viper. As we drove to dinner, I related to him the story of the staff meeting where we decided to send him the samples. Then I asked, “How did you remain so nice after we ignored you for so long?” He responded, “I was nobody from a company you’d never heard of. I desperately needed your product to be successful. I had nothing to offer you and you had everything I needed. All I could do was to be nice and ask again.” His tone of voice let me know that he was still that guy. Viper not withstanding.

Stefan did two things right. He was nice and he was persistent. When you come across that great job that you really want, persist. Check out the company social media sites. Web pages give you business information (product lines, sales locations, press releases, documentation….) Facebook et al. (if done right) will give you interesting information about the company (charities they support, corporate team building events, mentions in the major press, industry trends…) which will make you a much more interesting candidate to interview.


Do Not Look For a Job Doing What You Love

Steve Jobs

I can not say it any better than the professionals at Business Insider… particularly since they quote Steve Jobs. You need to learn to love what you do and not do what you love (as we are so often told).

Here is the article

100 Years Ago

Things were very different in 1915.

100 years ago

I’ve learned ….

Women laughing and having fun

That no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend with whom to act goofy.

Good Luck and Godspeed!

LinkedIn Spamming Strangers in Your Name


Last night, a friend of mine asked me if LinkedIn auto-generated “invitations to connect” to complete strangers that matched their (LinkedIn’s) assessment of connections he might be interested in. I had to admit that this is something I’d never wondered….so I had no answer. However, I have noticed a significant increase in invitations from people I do not know. In my case, I have spent a lot of time on LinkedIn over the past year building a new network. I am changing industries, so all my previous LinkedIn connections were only moderately helpful in making the contacts I need to make. I send out around 100 invitations a month, so when I started receiving random invitations from people in this new industry, I just assumed it was tied to my increased activity.

But here is the piece of the story I did not tell you. My friend, a CEO of a small semiconductor company, just assumed that people wanted to connect to him due to his executive status in the high tech industry. He noticed the increase in random invitations but assumed that it was related to increased job hunting activities, now that the economy has started to pickup. That is, however, until he received an invitation to connect to himself.  It was then that he started to question if he was getting a flurry of requests to connect which were generated by LinkedIn based on his profile and on the profiles of people he was connecting to.

I did a quick Google search on “does linkedin automatically send invitations” to discover a LinkedIn discussion started on February 9 of this year. There was outrage being expressed over LinkedIn doing exactly this. Most of the respondents in this discussion indicated that they were careful about who they sent invitations to and from whom they accepted invitations.

Mystery solved. LinkedIn will generate invitations for you to people they think you might want to be connected to.

I do not have the same concern, as some people do, about connecting to people I may not know. I am essentially in sales, and you are probably not going to make much of a business by only selling to people you know. What concerns me is that LinkedIn has decided to do this without telling us. They are essentially “telemarketing” to LinkedIn members, under our name and LinkedIn profile, without our ever knowing.

Isn’t this what a virus does?

Good luck and Godspeed!