Today's story is a lot different than most the stories I share here. It's not one of incompetence, failure, disaster, or anything like that -- in fact, it's kind of the opposite of that. I thought it'd be a nice lead-in for the four-day Thanksgiving weekend.
By the time he was twenty-one, Roy had already earned the title "drop out." College just wasn't his thing: he attended three different universities -- one after another -- and didn't even come close to earning a degree. His "drop out" title was only solidified when he started work as a roll-machine operator at the local paper factory. Worse yet, the factory was by the docks, which meant that Roy had to pass through the outdoor fish-market every day on his way to work. Talk about a great way to start the day. But Roy wasn't fazed; he became inspired.
After less than a year at the factory, Roy realized something: he could sell fish better. He quit his job at the factory and became a fishmonger at the outdoor market. But instead of just letting his customers come to him, he sought out new customers. Specifically, local restaurants and stores. His prepared fish and fish-based foods were being bought up quicker than he could make them, so he hired a few employees and after short while he had a fairly successful small business. So he sold it. It was time to move on to something new.
Roy did a lot over the next fifteen years. He worked at several different companies in several different positions, ranging from software salesman to president of a certain security company with a gold-on-brown logo. He founded (and later sold) a few multi-million dollar companies. Now at the age of thirty-six, he's ready to retire. As if such people ever retire.
Throughout his entire career, Roy has always stuck to his philosophy of being honest and ethical. He became legendary in one company when, during a sales presentation with the board of directors, the chairman accused him of being dishonest. Roy simply said "Ok," packed up his laptop and walked out of the room. They quickly called him back in with profuse apologies and, two hours later, he was awarded the contract.
Perhaps the best example of Roy's uncompromising ethics was when he was the head-of-sales at a large IT hardware company. One of their clients was looking to purchase a very large quantity of certain make of printers. What the client didn't know was that the printer was riddled with defects, about to be discontinued, and its manufacturer was known to renege on its warranties. This meant even a bigger margin on the sale.
Roy wanted to make sure that the customer was aware of the low quality nature of the product but his boss, the president, didn't. They got into a shouting match over this, the end result being that Roy was pulled off the sale. The president made sure that this was known throughout the sales department and reminded everyone that they "will sell whatever a customer will buy."
Roy was not happy with this and decided to make a point. He called up his former colleagues down at the fish market and placed an order. One hundred buckets of herring. The next morning at the crack of dawn, the delivery truck pulled up to the office and brought in several hundred pounds of fish and a whole lot of ice.
The sales staff arrived in the office at their normal time and were greeted with an unbearable smell and some rather unusual orders from their boss: load up their car with herring and get to selling. Roy joined them and left a message for the president, "we're out selling whatever customers will buy."
Roy never was fired for this stunt; he was just too valuable of a resource to lose. Instead, the president immediately changed his policy and never discussed sales ethics with Roy again. Though the company has since moved offices and gotten a new fleet of company cars, some swear that they can still smell herring ...
(story sent in by Tom Eugelink, a close friend of Roy's)
Last Friday, in Tales From the Interview, I mentioned that submitter of the best interview tale (as voted by you, the reader) would get a Sumo Lounge. That submitter was the anonymous person behind "Are You an Astronaut?" Actually, I think that works out well; although he was able to hide his embarrassment here with a veil of anonymity, he'll have to explain to someone just how he got that giant bean bag chair.