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Excerpt from
Success By Defaul

On one particular sales call I had invited the Purchasing Director for a major prestigious department store to lunch at the Oyster Bar of the Plaza Hotel. Sam was to come along. I was trying to sell them the business return advertising envelopes to use with their revolving credit invoices.

We met at the restaurant and I introduced Sam to Jack Dobson, my perspective client. When we were seated, Sam proceeded to remove his polyester suit jacket, open his shirt collar, loosen his tie, tuck his dinner napkin into his open collar, roll up his sleeves and light up a cigarette. I felt embarrassed, like I just got caught cheating on a test. Here I was trying to impress a potential client from an elite department store and my sales manager was acting like a slob. Who would want to do business with us?

The waiter came over to take our drink orders and leave us the menus, before he could get a word out of his mouth, Sam said in a loud voice, “I’ll have a Piña Colada” I wanted to crawl under the table. My sophisticated guest ordered a glass of white wine and I had a wine spritzer.

For lunch, I ordered a salad and a plain piece of broiled fish. Jack had asked for a salad and grilled shrimp. After Sam finished his second cigarette, he polished off a large appetizer of fried calamari, washed it down with a second Piña Colada, followed by almost half a loaf of bread and butter.

I was nursing my drink. I am a cheap drunk, one glass of wine and I can sleep all day. When our salads arrived, I used a little oil and vinegar. I don’t remember what Jack had on his salad but my hero and mentor was asking for more Russian dressing and another loaf of bread, while popping antacid tablets like I eat M & M’s.

When lunch arrived, my fish was done just right. I asked our guest if his dish was all right as Sam was asking the waiter for a side order of French fries to go along with his fried mixed seafood platter.

All during lunch, he ate with a lit cigarette sitting in the ashtray neither Jack nor myself smoked. Twice during lunch the waiter came over to change the ashtray for a clean one.

Dessert was the next disaster. Jack and I ordered just coffee my hero had cappuccino and pecan pie alamode. This guy was a walking time bomb. No wonder he had heart problems.

We finished lunch and I told Jack that I would call him in a few days to follow up on our discussions. As we walked away from the restaurant, Sam started to critique our lunch date. He said that I should have been more relaxed as a potential client feels up tight if I sit there with my jacket on and shirt buttoned up.

I guess he never heard that neatness counts.

He said, “Let’s catch a cab back to the office,” I said that I had wanted to follow up on a sales lead and would meet him there later. There was no sales lead. I just didn’t want to be around him, he made my skin crawl.



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© 2004 by Michael Solomon
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 Success By Default:  Available Fall 2004 from

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