Rule #6: The Power of Now!
My college fraternity was known for its annual formal Christmas Party. Each year we hired a piano player by the name of Charlie Bradshaw to play our out-of-tune piano and lead the singing of Christmas carols well into the early morning hours. For reasons unclear to me, in 1968 I waited until the last minute to begin searching for a date to this “must-attend” occasion.
The day before the event I realized I would be singing solo if I didn’t find someone to accompany me. It was time for some history making Marchev phone magic.
MM: “Hi, this is Mike Marchev. Have I got an opportunity for you! Would you be interested in attending the Theta Chi Fraternity Christmas Bash with me? . . . Tomorrow night . . . Oh . . . Well, maybe next year . . . Bye.”
What? Me worry? I had a back up number. Doesn’t everybody?
MM: “Hi, this is Mike Marchev. Would you like to attend the Theta Chi Fraternity Christmas Party with me? . . . Tomorrow night . . . Oh . . . Well, maybe next year . . . Bye.”
0 for 2. But the University of Massachusetts was a big place. I once figured out that if the same guy asked a different girl out every night for 365 straight nights for four straight years, he would graduate not having the pleasure of knowing or dating about 85% of the 9,000 women who attended U. Mass. (That, I have come to learn, is known as market research.) Back to my dilemma . . .
MM: “Hi, This is Mike Marchev. Would you . . . Hello!”
I really thought I had the next one . . . 0-4.
One day too late: 0-5. 0-6. 0-7. By this time, although I hated the thought of it, I began asking my fraternal brothers for a few leads. The next 6 “shoe-ins” became defeat numbers 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13.
The word was quickly getting out. My loving frat brothers started to make side bets on my demise, wagering on when I’d hit ground zero. They were enjoying watching me go down in flames. But, I wasn’t done yet . . . not by a long shot. I had an ace in the hole, good old Father Quigley.
My fraternity house was conveniently located next to the Catholic Newman Center, home of Father Quig who knew just about every nice girl on campus. He would save me from further embarrassment. Just as I expected. The good father gave me three more sure things.
0-14, 0-15 and 0-16. (I now understood why Father Quig had decided to become a priest.)
Joe Lang, my football teammate, fraternity pledge brother, and good and reliable friend, was doing everything humanly possible to avoid wetting his trousers while taking great delight in my lackluster performance. I hadn’t put on a show like this since I busted my collar bone in the Rhode Island game inside a nano second of leaving my first varsity huddle. What idiot would wait until the last minute to get a date for the Theta Chi Annual Christmas Party? Answer: Marchev.
Then I called Mary Jane Watson (not her real name — why humiliate her in the unlikely event this book ends up on the New York Times Best Sellers List). When she said without much voice inflection, “Why not?” I felt the weight of the world lift off my shoulders. Marchev is back! That’s right. The stud-muffin comes through again, pledge brothers! I had managed to find a date to the Christmas Party . . . and a very lovely young lady she was, I might add.
1-17! Lucky for me, she came with both self-esteem and a sense of humor.
The lessons I learned from this embarrassing episode were many. While attending the University of Massachusetts, in addition to learning all about the Battle of 1812, I learned the value of:
Planning — or the frustration of lack thereof. Persistence — the fundamental ingredient for success. Rejection — most things only hurt for a moment or two. Sense of Humor — if you can’t laugh at yourself, you’re wrapped too tight. Realism — after all, there is always next year. Tenacity — kicks in when you have worn all the way through persistence. Referrals — there is no such thing as a sure thing. Sure things — see referrals. The Power of NOW — versus later.
All of these lessons proved valuable when building a successful career in sales. The former New York Yankee Baseball Manager hit the nail right on the head when he said:
“If my pitcher would pitch at the beginning of the game the same way he pitches at the end of the game, once he realizes he is losing, he wouldn’t be losing in the first place.”
– Casey Stengel
For those of you who don’t speak Stengelese, allow me to translate: Do important things now so you won’t have to play catch up and sweat the entire ordeal later.
In the Christmas of ’68, I made it more difficult than it had to be . . . but I made it. And in sales, a ratio of 1 for 17 may be very well on target.
One closing note on persistence: As I was writing the first draft of this chapter, the daytime television actress Susan Lucci won her first Emmy. As most people in the civilized world know, Susan Lucci was nominated a record 18 times before finally winning her first award in 1999. Susan beat my 0-17 and for this I wanted to publicly thank her for helping me put my rejection in perspective. Susan’s annual loss became a perennial joke, yet she never appeared to lose her grace, her beauty or her sense of self-esteem. And Susan now owns one more Emmy than you or I. Congratulations, Susan. You are a model sales lesson.
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