Kicks in the Teeth, Mistakes to Learn From

“You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” These words were once spoken by Walt Disney, and, as many of us have found, they hold quite a bit of truth.      

Not too long ago, a friend of mine, Glenn Gang, sent me a story about one of his “kicks in the teeth” in the hope that I would share it with others, and help them learn from his mistake.

It was the first thing in the morning. The president of his New York based agency heard that representatives of a Connecticut based crane association were reviewing their agency’s programs. The president of the agency told Glenn to call and ask for an appointment that same day — before they finalized any decisions. So, Glenn called and practically begged for a meeting, and then drove the two hours up I-95 completely confident he had a great shot at landing their business.

His agency handled loads of construction companies. He brought custom flyers and tons of testimonials with impressive pictures of earth-moving equipment. As he sat in traffic, he smiled, passing through Westchester County into Connecticut, passing six or eight construction sites that were using large cranes all along the highway. If you believed in omens, you’d feel pretty good about this sales call too.

When he arrived, Glenn pulled up at the front door to discover the association’s logo was a crane, the bird with the long neck – he thought it was a pretty cool idea. As he stepped into the reception area, he noticed it was quiet and beautifully decorated. The walls were covered with cranes. It was decorated with hundreds and hundreds of them. Everywhere he looked, he saw images of the aquatic birds. Apparently some nonprofit organizations really market themselves well –as this was the association for the preservation of cranes, the birds that is.

Glenn met with the decision maker and presented his company’s offerings, but he was really rattled by the mistake, with his mind focused on the anger he felt towards his company’s president. While the executive director of the crane association sat through the most uninspired sales conversation she’d ever encountered, Glenn just felt stupid being there.

My friend left the association empty-handed and earned the special pleasure of being the butt of office jokes for several months.

Now, even if he’s in a hurry, Glenn is sure to do some homework on all his prospects, because never again does he want to leave a meeting with his tail feathers between his legs.

Glenn learned from his “Kick in the teeth,” as we have all learned from ours.

If you have your “Kick in the teeth” you would like to share, please post it below in the comments section so we all can learn from it.


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