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Tennessean Column- Sunday, September 21st

Posted on: September 19

Author: Tom Black
Tennessean Column- Sunday, September 21st

Pay it Forward

Many times in sales we get a bad reputation for “greed” or “say anything to get the sale”.  Sometimes it is true.  One of the greatest things I have learned in my sales career is to “pay it forward”- to give to my customer or prospect without hope of return.  Here are two stories that inspire me to keep that philosophy.

Story one:  Al Capone had a lawyer nicknamed “Easy Eddie”.  Eddie was as good as they get.  He kept Al Capone out of trouble many times.  Al paid him well too.  He lived in a mansion that covered a city block.  He also had armed guards around his house.

But Eddie had one soft spot, his son.  He did everything for him and had an unlimited budget to care for him.  Despite Eddie’s work he tried to teach his son right from wrong.  Like all fathers, he wanted his son to be a better man than him.

One day he had an epiphany and decided to set the right example for his son by going to the authorities.  He gave up the “goods” on “Scarface Capone”.  He went so far as to testify against Al Capone to set the record straight for his son.  Within a year he was gunned down.  The police found him with a rosary and a crucifix in his pocket.  He gave up his life to set an example for his son.

Story two:  In WWII there were many heroes.  Butch O’Hare was one such hero.  He was a fighter pilot on the USS Lexington in the South Pacific.  On February 20th, 1942 his squadron left their ship on a mission.  After he was airborne he realized that someone forgot to refuel his plane.  Under orders he returned to the ship.

As he returned to the ship, much to his surprise, he came upon a squadron of Japanese aircraft speeding towards his fleet.  He could not warn the fleet so he did what he had to do.  Without regard for personal consequences he attacked the Japanese single handed.  He plowed into the surprised Japanese planes guns blazing.  He shot down four planes.  When his ammunition was spent he tried to clip their wings in hopes of disabling them.  Finally, discouraged and defeated, the Japanese planes retreated. 

Butch O’Hare returned in his badly damaged plane to the carrier.  The film from his gun camera told the story.  He had, in fact, destroyed five enemy aircraft.  For his bravery, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.  He was the first naval aviator to receive this distinction.  A year later, Butch was killed in aerial combat.  He was 29 years old.

His home town of Chicago honored him by naming O’Hare airport in his honor.  His memorial with the Congressional Medal of Honor is on display there today between terminal one and two.  He was a true American hero.

These two stories have a common thread.  Butch O’Hare was “Easy Eddie’s” son.

Pay it forward should be a way of life for a salesperson just as it was for Butch and Eddie.  I hope these two stories inspire you as much as me to keep “laying them on the landing deck” without regard for immediate personal benefit.


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