A Young Roger Ebert — the Unabashed, Never to be Deterred Salesman

I’ve written often about my absolute devotion to Roger Ebert.  (Like here: Roger Ebert Reminds us All Just Why We Love Our Books).  “Sell all that you have, and read Ebert.” I wrote (with apology to Helmut Thielecke).

A young Roger Ebert and friend

Here’s a little bit from his latest blog post.  It’s a pretty good reminder that we all have to be selling something – all the time.  (Nothing Happens Until Somebody Sells Something.” – Mary Kay Ash).

Roger’s paragraphs – priceless! — Here they are:

I was a case study. I threw myself into the school’s annual magazine subscription contest, sponsored by the Curtis Circulation Company. A portion of each subscription went to the school, and the best salesman won a trophy. I won two years in a row, flogging the Saturday Evening Post, Ladies’ Home Journal, Popular Mechanics and dozens of other titles (the nuns neatly crossed off Esquire on every form). A Curtis pitchman arrived to kick off the next year. “Everyone you know is a sales opportunity!” he lectured us in the auditorium. “Your parents, your neighbors, even people you meet! Don’t be shy! Sell those subscriptions!”

I raised my hand. “Sir,” I asked, “would you like to buy a subscription?” I expected laughter, applause and his congratulations. What I got was total silence and Sister Gilberta ordering me to meet with her in the hall to explain why I had embarrassed my whole school. Then followed conferences with my parents. I felt humiliated and outraged. I thought I’d been outrageously mistreated by people with no imagination or sympathy. I suppose in another sense I was being a little asshole. That pattern has persisted.

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