Annals of Sales: The Silver FoxAugust 2, 2010 at 7:31 AM | Posted in Business, Sales | 3 Comments
I was close to ending my 5 year tenure at Burroughs in 1979, after I had moved to the Westchester New York Branch in Mamaroneck, when an almost retired Bill Murray came down from Boston to fill-in while a new Branch Manager was found for our office, ours having just decided to move on. He had a full head of wavy silver hair, wore crisp white shirts and always, a blue suit.
I was the sales manager for this small Branch and Bill took me under his wing. He was at the end and I was at the beginning and he liked to talk and I was happy to listen. He particularly liked to go to dinner at the Fenimore Cooper Inn on the Boston Post Road, a venerable restaurant then, and he would always begin with a cocktail and a friendly wink to the waitress. He had been with Burroughs for a thousand years.
I asked him, in our last dinner together, what were the most important things he had learned. He took a pull of his drink and laughed and said “Tommy, all my best boys told me that they loved working for me but when they had an offer of more money, they always took it. Can’t say I blame them. They had families to support.”
After a pause, he told me something that I have never forgotten and yet haven’t learned: “Every time I think I’ve got this business licked, that because of all my experience I don’t have to focus on the basics anymore, I get my butt kicked.”
Truer words were never spoken.