He was a timid young man with a more or less retiring sort of nature. He was one of those who believe it’s best to slip in by the back door and take a seat at the rear of the stage of life. One evening he heard a lecture on the subject of this lesson, Self-confidence, and that lecture so impressed him that he left the lecture hall with a firm determination to pull himself out of the rut into which he had drifted.
He went to the Business Manager of the paper and asked for a position as solicitor of advertising and was put to work on a commission basis. Everyone in the office expected to see him fail, as this sort of salesmanship calls for the most positive type of sales ability. He went to his room and made out a list of a certain type of merchants on whom he intended to call.
One would think that he would naturally have made up his list of the names of those whom he believed he could sell with the least effort, but he did nothing of the sort. He placed on his list only the names of the merchants on whom other advertising solicitors had called without making a sale. His list consisted of only twelve names. Before he made a single call he went out to the city park, took out his list of twelve names, read it over a hundred times, saying to himself as he did so, “You will purchase advertising space from me before the end of the month.”
Then he began to make his calls. The first day he closed sales with three of the twelve “impossibilities.” During the remainder of the week, he made sales to two others. By the end of the month, he had opened advertising accounts with all but one of the merchants that he had on the list. For the ensuing month, he made no sales, for the reason that he made no calls except on this one obstinate merchant.
Every morning when the store opened he was on hand to interview this merchant and every morning the merchant said “No.” … The merchant knew he was not going to buy advertising space, but this young man didn’t know it. When the merchant said No the young man did not hear it, but kept right on coming. On the last day of the month, after having told this persistent young man No for thirty consecutive times, the merchant said: “Look here, young man, you have wasted a whole month trying to sell me; now, what I would like to know is this – why have you wasted your time?”
“Wasted my time nothing,” he retorted; “I have been going to school and you have been my teacher. Now I know all the arguments that a merchant can bring up for not buying, and besides that I have been drilling myself in Self-confidence.”
Then the merchant said: “I will make a little confession of my own. I, too, have been going to school, and you have been my teacher. You have taught me a lesson in persistence that is worth money to me, and to show you my appreciation I am going to pay my tuition fee by giving you an order for advertising space.”
And that was the way in which the Philadelphia North American’s best advertising account was brought in. Likewise, it marked the beginning of a reputation that has made that same young man a millionaire… He succeeded because he deliberately charged his own mind with sufficient Self-confidence to make that mind an irresistible force.
When he sat down to make up that list of twelve names he did something that ninety-nine people out of a hundred would not have done-he selected the names of those whom he believed it would be hard to sell, because he understood that out of the resistance he would meet with in trying to sell them would come strength and Self-confidence. He was one of the very few people who understand that all rivers and some men are crooked because of following the line of least resistance.