A Monday Morning Memo from The Wizard of Ads
I stand on Staten Island in New York Harbor, quietly gazing upwards at the torch of Lady Liberty, when my ears catch the sound of a distant rumble. The noise quickly becomes a rushing roar and for an instant, the pale blue sky above the Lady’s torch turns dark as six Navy jets pass over her in tight formation. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen The Blue Angels. My thoughts turn immediately to Bennie.
Bennie is a printer who has taught his craft to several young people, then helped each one of them open their own little printing shop. Bennie remains a silent partner in each of the shops and he sells his young partners all their paper and printing supplies. Most people think Bennie is a printer, but in reality, Bennie is a salesman.
Bennie is such a good salesman, in fact, that he has been sent to make an impossible sale. His employers need money desperately, but no one is willing to loan it to them because everyone knows they are going under. Bennie’s mission is to secure the funding that will allow them to survive, an amount totalling several million dollars, and Bennie has nothing to offer as collateral. But Bennie has a plan.
Bennie wrangles himself an invitation to a dinner party where movers and shakers will be gathered, but instead of smiling and handing his business card to each of the powerful men, Bennie slips into the room next door where all the men’s wives have gathered. Bennie smiles and listens and asks perceptive questions and is soon quite a favorite among the ladies, so it comes as no surprise when he is invited to party after party. And each time it is the same: speak with the women, avoid the men.
One night, the ladies say, “Bennie, tell us about yourself. Tell us about where you are from.” Soon they are spellbound as Bennie speaks from his heart about his employers and their lofty goals, hopes, dreams and beliefs. Within a few days, Bennie’s employers have the money they need.
As the Blue Angels pass over Lady Liberty, my mind turns to Bennie because this is the statue that was sent as a gift to Bennie’s employers by the nice people who loaned them the money back in 1777. Yes, it was during America’s darkest hour that Benjamin Franklin arranged to borrow from France the money needed to continue the Revolutionary War. One hundred years later, the French congratulated Bennie’s employers on their success with a little gift called The Statue of Liberty.
Fortunately for America, Bennie knew how to win the hearts of “inside champions,” and it helped him save a struggling young nation. So tell me, would there be a statue in New York Harbor today if Bennie had been trained to deal only with “decision makers”?
Roy H. Williams
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“Every man has two countries and one of them is France.” B.F.