Pure Sales. All Human.

January, 2000.  It’s an unseasonably steamy day in Miami.  My sales manager comes into my office and asks for a few minutes.  “Keep an open mind,” he says.  “I think there’s something here…I think.”  And he pauses.  I note his discomfort.  Hmmm.  Highly unusual.  (This coming from someone that even today, more than 10 years later, I consider to be one of the brightest, most confident and most effective sales managers that has worked for me.)

He then stumbles into his request: “Would you spend 10 minutes with him and if you don’t agree, we’ll show him the door.”  With that introduction, the bar was set limbo style – ankle biting level.

Our candidate walks in.  Imposing figure.  Of Arabic descent.  Somewhere between 5’10” and 5’11”.  Short, thick, muscular and sporting a foo-man-choo.  I’d say 250 lbs. (He’ll deny it. I’m confident it was probably higher.)   If he never spoke or smiled, you would be worried. Be very worried.

He hands me his resume.  I ask him to sit down.  I ask him if he could give me a few minutes to review his resume.

I begin scanning his resume.  Current employer: International Hair & Beauty Products.  Direct and wholesaler of weaves, hair extensions and beauty products.

I stop. I glance up.  Man does not have one single strand of hair on his head.  And he’s sweating profusely.

I ask him if he knows that this is a Bank and that we’re looking for commercial banking salespeople.

He looks back at me.  He starts to laugh.

I start laughing.

My sales manager walks in and asks if everything is O.K.

I ask him if this was the correct resume as I don’t see any banking background on this resume…not one day.

All three of us then start to laugh.

I settle in.

I asked him if he knew anything about banking.  He said no.  And he started to laugh.

I start asking him about his work experience.

And I listen.  And listen.

There IS something here.   Man has a knack for bonding.  For building relationships quickly.  For putting you at ease quicker than you can snap your fingers.  The infectious smile.  An ability to shift gears in conversation — turning uneasy and uncomfortable on a dime into something comfortable, familiar and warm.

My mind is working.  We’d been unsuccessful in finding a banker to cover a market that perhaps had the lowest opportunity potential in the business.

And here was a “live-one.” He wouldn’t know any better.  Besides, we were the ones taking a flyer on a zero-experience candidate.

We told him that we had one last banker position open in a market that offered tremendous “upside.”

He took it.

We dropped him into Sahara in search of water.

He trudged from small business to smaller business in the scorching Miami heat.  Learning the banking trade on the job.  He built relationships one at a time.  With accountants.  With lawyers.  With small business owners.  And inch by inch he started building a reputation and a clientele in a market that we deemed to be nearly unbankable.  HE FOUND WATER.

Frank left me (in a misguided decision) for another firm for 3 years.  He regrets it even today.  (Ask him.  Or better yet, ask me).  He rejoined me two years ago.

He’s now resting in the top quartile of all salespeople in the country.

Man is Fearless in any professional or social situation.

Man lights up a room upon human contact.

Man is a Pure salesman.

Man is All Human.

Man was a Long Shot.

A Long Shot that paid off big.

Why do so many fail within the first 18 months of taking a job?

When our research tracked 20,000 new hires, 46% of them failed within 18 months. But even more surprising than the failure rate, was that when new hires failed, 89% of the time it was for attitudinal reasons and only 11% of the time for a lack of skill. The attitudinal deficits that doomed these failed hires included a lack of coachability, low levels of emotional intelligence, motivation and temperament.

– Mark Murphy, Hiring for Attitude, Forbes

Adapted Image Credit


  1. My hiring mantra is attitude over aptitude..technical acumen you can teach; attitude is another thing entirely..:-)


  2. Another genius Post, David. You are, amongst other things, a great story teller. Thanks!


  3. Damn, you’re good! What a hook….”It was an unseasonably steamy day in Miami….”. I poured another cup of coffee and settled in! Seriously, this one resonated with me because my first boss hired me on faith and attitude, as there was certainly nothing on my resume that told him I was the right person for the job. It worked out beautifully and he susbsequently hired me once more years later, when our paths crossed again. Attitude trumps aptitude for me as well…


  4. Michelle says:

    Great story, one that I can relate to since I know Frank, but that I had never heard. The greatest thing about this story is that I now know a young Frank looking for just this opportunity. College graduate, extremely personable and has a contagious smile. Salesmanship is in his blood. I am going to print this blog and pass it on to him.


  5. Frank H says:

    Sweating profusely?! There was no sweating!


  6. Always on point David!


  7. Ditto. Fantastic story. Point made so well. I can teach a monkey to do the job, but not a human without that all important attitudes of gratitude, expectancy and willingness. I love a laughing person. My favorite all time, wish I could claim it selection question is, “Dog or cat, cat or dog, which do you choose?”


  8. lkanigan says:

    Attitude is everything. As mentioned above you are a great story teller with a lesson always to be learned. Thanks.


  9. I’m inspired! Thanks for sharing that wonderful story.


  10. rakanigan says:

    this made me laugh…


  11. This one is awesome, David. Experience is not always everything. I learned from my father at an early age, “Give me an inexperienced person who is honest, motivated and full of enthusiasm any day, and I will teach them the business.”


  12. Great story. Thanks for sharing…


  13. I have no gift when it comes to talking to people. On the other hand, give me minimal guidance on a project and ask for a piece of cake to go with it and I’ll jump through hoops and present you with the paperwork, a presentation, options and black forest cake with a smile… The problem is most people do not know that by looking at my resume or by hearing me speak. Oh, and when they see I’m only 5′ tall and look like a mid twenty something despite being 40 this coming week, well heck, I have a very tall ladder to climb. We need more people like you who can see the beyond.

    I volunteer for a museum. A job I really enjoy and I might have to move at the end of the year so I will have to give it up. The manager is already saying he is going to miss me. I told him to send me the info in an email and I would do the work from wherever I end up. His words, “But it’s not the same!” Yep, I know, he’ll miss the ability to hand me a coffee (yep I like this guy, my manager makes me coffee) and mumble two or three sentences and get retorts like, “Its already on your desk” (when he had not even asked me to do the work in the first place), “Do you want a powerpoint with that?” or better yet “I made morning tea.” It really wont be the same working from somewhere else.


  14. I really have no idea what to write here for you as I daily read your blog but dont get the words to express my Gratitude. Thank you David! I really am Thankful to you for your diversified stuffs. Stay Blessed! =)


  15. I also have come to know Frank. I find him competent,resourceful, determined and interested in succeeding. He is a welcomed business partner within the frame work of the banking platform.


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