« Change? You can't be serious | Main | Did you hear the one about sustainable Phoenix? »

November 26, 2008


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Happy Thanksgiving yourself Mr. Talton. Do you remember what the desert smells like when it rains? Well, it's raining today. Keep up the good work.

The past couple of decades levitated individuals from the social matrix that bore them. We all became players in a massive con game, self-congratulating over appreciating home values and mutual-fund gains. Econoporn replaced hard work and some necessary reminders that the price we don't pay today might be exacted more sternly later on.

So here we are on the doorstep of a new world where the social good we do one another might actually replace a big part of our productive capacity. If Kunstler is right, we might rediscover agrarian virtues in a way few of us desire. Yet it's the difficulty in this idea that conceals its beauty. Money didn't make us happy nor good. We squandered time and treasure for little more than crappy suburban sprawl and epidemics of obesity and diabetes.

Like everyone else ruined by too much too soon, I don't savor the correction. How could I? But I wonder if the harsh lessons awaiting us contain a blessing in disguise. We might need one another again in a way that's fundamental to human happiness.

Soleri's comment put me in mind, somehow, of a novella by Robert Heinlein called The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag.

"Before it's all over we're gonna get a little place out in the country, and I'll raise some vegetables, a couple of chickens..."
- Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman, Act 2

"I realized what a ridiculous lie my whole life has been."
- Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman, Act 2

I tried sales a couple of times. Both, incidently, in Phoenix.

In the first job I had to take an out-of-state phone book and cold call companies for 'chemicals' (cleaning supplies). The hook was to tell them we had recieved their postcard for a free prize,even though therre was no such thing. If we placed an order, it would come with the prize, but it was still a scam. I left after a few days and the manager tried to make me feel bad by observing that I "couldn't take it." I replied that if they menat that I wouldn't be dishonest and unethical, they were right. They had plenty of employees who could 'take it."

The second job was selling a special kind of vacuum cleaner. After using a variety of ways to get in the door, we would demo the machine and claim a very high price but call our manager to get a lower price. After a series of fake negotiations to a "special" low price, we would tell them that we had to back to office and bring back a new machine instead of selling them the demo we had. We would always clean up the same machine and bring it back to them. I never understood why we bothered with the lie but it was considered an essential part of the speil. Since we were encouraged to go after friends and family as sales opportunities, I actually sold one to the parents of a friend. I've never felt good about that. I only lasted a couple of weeks and only sold two.

Years later, in the Seattle area, I worked at a violin shop. ONly a small part of my time was spent helping people choose instruments but we were encouraged to help them find the instrument that suited their needs at a price that they could afford - even if that meant sending them to our competitors. People were astonished that we would send them away, but always pleased that we had actually helped them. Even if they bought an instrument from someone else, they wouls refer people to us - because we would actually put their needs first. That's the only sales job I ever felt good about.

Today, I'm thankful that I'm no good at sales.

Happy Thanksgiving, Jon

Becoming a nation of salesmen and bankers is the natural progression of a nation going into decline.It happened to the Spanish after they had extracted all the treasure from the New World.Then the Dutch became bankers of the world as their sun set.The British probably held out the longest as their sources of coal and maritime talent kept them an empire.At the end of each period they became more and more a nation of bankers and salesmen.I read this in a very good book I can't remember right now,but if anyone wants the name of it,let me know and I will try to find it.
PS-Jon,reading your posts make me remember your time here in Phoenix and how much distress we could have avoided if the banking-developer complex(and the public) had listened to you.

Mike, I'd be interested in the name of that book when you have time to dig.

This post is a few months old I know but somehow I happened upon it and it makes me WANT to read more of what you have to say.

I posted a blog on a site for salespeople and I proposed the idea of a massive mindset change in not only the mind of the salesman but the mind of the public as well. The site was for car salespeople and while I know they are not always seen in the best of light its tough being one because of HOW the public perceives them to be.

I also know that most of that is the salespersons fault but somehow, because we are the salesperson, we need to make the change on our end first and put service in sales.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

My Photo

Your email address:

Powered by FeedBlitz