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Title: Letters from An Old Time Salesman to His Son
Author: James, Roy Lester
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Letters from An Old Time Salesman to His Son" ***

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  _Letters from An Old Time Salesman to His Son_

                  _By R. L. James_

  _General Sales Manager, Libby, McNeill & Libby_

                Chicago and New York

          Published by
    The Dartnell Corporation
       Dartnell Building
  Ravenswood and Leland Avenues
       Chicago, Illinois

All privileges of reproducing illustrations or letter press
expressly reserved by the publishers

Copyright 1922 in the United States, Canada and Great Britain


Printed by The Dartnell Press


  The Boy Starts Out--Green and Gullible But Full of Pep              9
  The Boy Writes That He Has Arrived as a “Regular” Salesman         13
  The Boy Thinks the House Should Accept Cancellations               17
  The Boy Has Been Promoted to a “Special” Salesman                  21
  Dad Gives the Boy Some Sound Advice Regarding Team Work            25
  The Boy Is Having His Troubles as a Branch Manager                 31
  Dad Tells the Boy Why It Pays to Advertise                         37
  Dad Counsels the Boy to Throw Away His Knickers and Put on
    Long Pants                                                       43
  The Boy Has Begun to Solicit Dad's Counsel                         49
  The Boy Has Told Dad of His Latest Pet “Peeve”                     55
  The Boy Has Met the Girl--He Sounds Dad Out on Matrimony           61
  The Boy Has Been Bragging a Little                                 67
  Dad Warns of the Evil Spirit That Whispers “You Haven't Time”      75
  The Boy Is Given an Unfailing Formula for Landing a Bigger Job     81
  Hal Is District Manager Now--His Problem Is Winning the Respect
    of Men                                                           87
  Dad Drops in on a Branch Manager and Finds the Spirit of the
    Time                                                             93
  The Boy Gets a Chance to See Himself as Others See Him             99
  Dad Tips Off the Boy to a New Job                                 105
  Dad Gets a Lesson from a Trip to the Farm                         111
  Dad Takes an Interest in the Boy's Big Sales Contest              117
  Dad Surrenders When the Boy Lands the Big Job                     123

_The Story Behind These Letters_

The most refreshing thing about these letters is that they are real
letters, written by a real salesman to a real son. Therein they differ
from so many books of this character. There is a certain satisfaction
in knowing that what you are reading was written by a man who has been
through the mill.

Another refreshing thing about these letters is that they were not
written for publication. The motive behind them is an interesting one.
Mr. James began his business career as a salesman, calling on the
retail trade in small towns. Shortly after a son came to bless his
home--a red-headed boy who was christened “Hal.” Like all men who make
a success of their profession, Mr. James believed in his work and his
dreams of the future for his son always pictured the boy as a traveling
salesman. As the boy grew and developed traits of character, what was
more natural than that his dad, who shared the boy's problems, should
visualize his son with these same peculiar traits running afoul of the
same pitfalls and snags that beset the path of every young man in sales
work? What was more natural than that he should try to impart to his
boy the secrets of his success as a salesman and manager of salesmen,
so that the son might use the father's achievement as a short cut?

Through some underground avenue, best known to himself, it came to the
attention of the editor of the Libby house-organ that Mr. James--then
a department manager--was writing a series of most interesting human
letters to his boy. After much persuasion Mr. James agreed to the
anonymous publication of these letters--with deletions of a personal
character--in the Libby salesman's bulletin. For two years the letters
of an old time salesman to his son were the most eagerly read feature
of one of the most readable of salesmen's publications.

After the letters had run the gamut from salesman to general sales
manager, during the writing of which the author himself had risen to
the position of General Sales Manager of his Company, they came to
an end. That they had exerted a powerful influence in moulding the
character of every Libby salesman there can be no question. No man
could read the letters without being the better for having done so.
And I feel that Mr. James in permitting the publication of them in
book form, so that the message they carry may be spread out beyond
the limited confines of the Libby organization and conveyed to every
man who sells things, has taken a big step toward fulfilling the
obligation which every man owes to his profession. If every salesman
could read this book it would do more for the cause of better, cleaner
salesmanship than any other one thing.

                                      J. C. ASPLEY,
                          _Editor, “Sales Management Magazine.”_


  How many of you remember the golden days of yore
    When you were an uncouth urchin hanging 'round the village store,
  When the loafers saved the country--changed the tariff every day
    'Mid the fumes of various mixtures of tobacco-labeled hay,
  How you forgot the colored candles and the tempting cookie can
    When the door was quickly opened and in walked the Traveling Man.

  'Member how some way or other conversation seemed to stop,
    When he opened up his samples and your eyes would fairly pop
  At experiences he related as he took his order down,
    Talked about a three-ring circus--he was better than a clown,
  How you wondered and you worshiped and resolved to break each ban
    That would keep you from becoming, some day too, a Traveling Man.

  Never seemed he ever worried, life to him was always bright
    For you'd seen him in the morning and you'd seen him late at night:
  Altho' he was always working you could always see his smile
    Wasn't put on--just came natural, catchy, bubbling all the while;
  You resolved to be just like him, now deny it if you can,
    Your day dreams were filled with longing just to be a Traveling Man.

  Years have passed--you've lived to see all your boyhood dreams come true
    And now you're doing daily all the things he used to do;
  Now you know he had his troubles which he smiled thru right along,
    But it makes your memory dearer--that his life was not all song;
  And like him you keep a-hustling, glad that you have joined the clan
    That begets true admiration--Here's to you, A Traveling Man!

                                                           --R. L. James

_The Boy Starts Out--Green and Gullible But Full of Pep_

Dear Hal:

Your letter written as you had just finished your first week as a cub
salesman was received and I've enjoyed reading it over, two or three
times, because it brings out the fact that after all, the game doesn't
change a great deal in fundamentals since the time I used to beat the

I notice that you're impressed with the fact that it was pretty easy
for the regular salesman Ryan to sell goods, and that you think he's
a wonderful salesman. Now, of course, I never met Ryan and I don't
doubt from what you say that he is fairly popular with the trade, knows
the line and is a hard worker, but from some of the things you say,
I'm not exactly sure that Ryan is the man who wrote the first book on
salesmanship, but, of course, I may be mistaken. With all due respect
to Ryan, you must remember that your company was manufacturing and
marketing food products long before Ryan was strong enough to shake a

Now, I'm not trying to belittle the honest sales effort of yourself or
your friend Ryan in the least, but I just want to be sure that you
appreciate the fact that your success last week wasn't due 100 per cent
to the siren voice of your salesmanship, but that a great big piece of
credit was due to the solid foundation on which you were building your

I notice you sort of “bragged” over the fact that you sold only the
_best merchants_ in each town and those who were capable of giving
orders worth while. If I had to take my choice between five nice new
ten dollar bills and five old ragged ones, why, of course, I'd choose
the crinkly kind, but if there wasn't any law against my getting both
piles, I don't think I'd be so particular, because it has been my
experience that the ragged ones can be changed into just as many dimes
and quarters as the new ones, and either one is acceptable to the
receiving teller when you pass the little black book under the wicket
on Saturday.

Now the matter of choice in selling retailers is just the same. With
a line like your company has, in the first place you should attempt
to place it in a big way in the best stores in the town, but there
isn't any game law against selling it to the little fellow around the
corner, is there? Nobody in “the house” ever told you to beware of
selling the small merchant, did they? You bet they didn't! In fact,
every successful business has been founded on the small customer, who
afterward grew into the big one. You know when Marshall Field first
started in business his store didn't cover a city block, but I suppose
there were some two and three-quarters per cent salesmen in those days
who thought Field's business was too small to bother with, but if any
of those salesmen are still living you can probably find them now
acting as a nurse-girl to a wheezy taxicab.

Notice you say Ryan told you the reason he didn't call on some
merchants was because there was no use--they couldn't be sold. I'll
never forget, the fellow who broke me in as a salesman told me the same
thing my first week as we were getting off a train in a little Missouri
town that had only two stores in it. He said that the one customer we
sold there was the much better merchant of the two and it was no use to
go near the other one.

Well, I believed him, and made my one call in the town regularly and
received the one order and thought I was doing pretty well until one
day, when I called, my customer informed me that he had just sold out
to the other merchant across the street and that henceforth there would
be only one store there.

Of course, I went over and tried to sell the other fellow, but he
naturally wondered why I'd never called before and I didn't have any
very good answer. The result was that I was beaten by my own stupidity
and I had to call on that fellow for six months before I ever scratched
an order book.

Now that is only one of many instances I could tell you, but I've found
that there is one thing that, as a salesman, you must never take
another man's word for and that is that So-and-So across the street, or
around the corner, will not buy. I've always found it a safe rule to
call on every man who had his door unlocked and the worst thing that
ever happened to me in applying the rule, was to get an occasional
turn-down, while I have had the surprise of my life many times, to see
what big orders you could get out of a little store.

The longer you sell goods, the more you'll realize that it's a battle
from start to finish, but just take it from the old man that you'll
have more luck capturing an increase in salary at the end of the year
with a whole army of little dough-boy customers on your list than you
will by trying to impress the boss with a giant named Goliath who is a

                                        Your loving,

_The Boy Writes That He Has Arrived as a “Regular” Salesman_

Dear Hal:

Your mother and I have just finished reading your last letter, and
while I realize that you may be getting pretty well fed up on my
letters, I cannot help commenting on some of the things you have
written about.

I imagine it is just about as much fun for you to get one of my letters
as holding a horse in a rain. You probably look on them as containing
the proverbial “good advice.” I can almost hear you saying more men
have starved to death on good advice than were ever killed on the field
of battle.

All of that I'll admit, but words from an old traveler of the road
you've just started on is a good deal like castor oil--you kick up a
lot of fuss if you have to take it when you're young, but as you grow
older you realize that it didn't hurt you a bit and in most cases
prolonged the life of your “engine.”

I notice that you have gone just far enough in the selling game to
discover that your goods are higher priced than every competitor's;
the merchants overloaded; business on the bum; the office manager a
crab; the credit man hard-boiled and the plant unappreciative of what a
salesman is up against.

Well--now, isn't that just too bad! But doesn't it occur to you
that with everything so badly messed up, it is strange that the
firm continues to worry along and pay dividends on its stock, year
after year? Of course, the buyer tells you your prices are too
high--otherwise he wouldn't be the buyer, but would more probably be
rolling barrels of salt around in the basement for a living--you don't
expect him to ask you to add a little to the price, do you? And man
alive!--if the goods would sell themselves your company could replace
you with a post-card.

Last, but not least, they thought best to hire a 1922 model
eight-cylinder salesman, like you (you scamp) instead of trying to get
by with a two-cylinder flivver that isn't a self-starter.

Business is bum, eh? I'm sorry you told me because that's the cry of
the quitter and I hate to think you would make a phonograph record of
yourself. Business is bad for some people all the time and similarly,
business is good for others most of the time. Now I'm willing to admit,
understand, that there are business lulls in all lines, but if you'll
trace back the origin of that expression, I'll wager you'll find the
thought was first expressed by one of those hotel lobby lizards who
got used to the buyer hunting him up during the recent period of big
demand and small supply. To the fellow who really loves the game (and
if you don't you shouldn't be in it) the changed conditions, or the
lull, if you prefer that name, only means more “turndowns” which can be
overcome by “more calls” and at the end of the day, he finds he's been
too busy to notice that lull and his order-book may reflect smaller
orders, but gee--he's got a lot of 'em!

And the office Manager's a crab; and the credit man hard-boiled;--well
now, what do you think of that! Of course, the Office Manager should
be a mind-reader and overlook it when you send in claims without the
proper information, or reports only half-filled out, but somehow or
other he isn't--no, he's just human like all the rest of us--has a lot
to do and the company don't pay him for “guessing” at things you do.

The credit man is another good friend and a salesman's safety valve.
Both of 'em are the easiest men in the world to get popular with, but
you have to do your share and come clean. Sloppy reports and incorrect
information may be the easiest way out for the moment, but they never
fool these “watch dogs of the exchequer,” and after all, if it were not
for them, your pay check wouldn't come out so regularly.

Now you're wrong again, when you think the plant superintendent doesn't
appreciate your problems. He gives them really more thought than you
do, for you have only one house to work with, while he has to try to
answer the demands of six hundred salesmen.

Now, Old Top, I expect you think I have stepped on you pretty hard in
this letter, but I haven't intended to. If you weren't my own boy, I
imagine I'd expect less of you, but it's pretty hard for the old man,
knowing that a great big red-headed human dynamo, with hair on his
upper lip, would bear even the earmarks of a whiner, not to appeal
to your better judgment by making fun of the petty trials that every
red-blooded salesman has gone through and graduated from, just like you
got over the nursing bottle, measles and mumps.

But, anyway--read this letter twice, then remember, I'm laying a little
bet on you and am anxious to get your next letter.

                                        Your loving,

_The Boy Thinks the House Should Accept Cancellations_

Dear Hal:

For the past few months I have allowed your mother to do all the
letter-writing from this end; in fact, Mother has become a pretty
important factor around here since she has been given the vote. She
insists that the home be in her name and my insurance in her name, so
I've consented, and further allowed her to carry my religion in her

My chief reason for not writing sooner is that I wanted to wait until
you had graduated into a “jobbing” salesman, because I knew you would
eventually do so, and that with the new job would come new problems to
talk about.

Yes, the jobbing game is quite a little different from selling the
retailer, and I am glad to note that you have already found that the
average jobber buyer is generally a pretty thorough business man, quite
cold and calculating, and is more susceptible to quality and price
than he is to a salesman's personality, funny stories or the odor of

Note you say you think that your company is making a mistake in not
accepting cancellations of contracts with certain of their jobbing
customers who have been pretty hard hit on sugar declines, and that
you're afraid your company will not do much business with those
customers again, on account of refusing to “accommodate” them.

Say--Boy--just how do you get that way?

You think your company should bear “part” of the load, eh? You know one
trouble with you aggressive, red-blooded, two-fisted “kids” (as you'll
always be to me, Red) is that you don't look backward or forward far

Now let's look back a little. 'Way back last Spring your company came
out with their opening prices on the goods they sell for Fall Delivery.
On account, primarily, of the experience of the Wholesale Grocers over
a long period of years, these jobbers bought, and why? Because they
wanted to assure themselves of your company's quality and against the
possibility of an advance in cost after the goods were packed. That
was their reason and now, why did your company contract? Because they
wanted to assure themselves of a market for a certain per cent of their
pack so that their operations would not be so speculative.

You know, no business that is purely speculative is fundamentally sound.

Now this contract arrangement between your company and the jobber was
not philanthropic on either side. For years this custom has existed
in the industry and has been found to be fashioned along the lines of
sound economics. It is not a one-sided proposition by any means, for,
if it were, it would not have obtained over all these years. Sometimes
it has worked to the advantage of the canners, but just as often it
has worked to the advantage of the jobber, depending entirely on
conditions beyond the control of either. While both canners and jobbers
may have been laying up treasures in heaven for years, neither has so
far had sufficient prestige with the management to cause the rain, sun
and frost to act just right for the proper development of fruit and
vegetables, but under the contract system, both are protected as far as
possible to be fair to both parties.

Now, Red, remember the entire commercial fabric of our nation is built
up on confidence, and confidence can obtain only just so long as the
integrity of the business world is maintained by the recognition of the
validity of a contract entered into in good faith between buyers and

All right--now this year, as usual, after making these contracts with
their wholesale grocer friends, your company invested its money in
tin cans, sugar, boxes, other supplies and materials, contracted for
acreage, labor and everything else, bought a large amount of their
supplies long before they really needed them, but they must necessarily
take no chances on failure. They borrowed money at prevailing high
rates to finance it.

Now listen, son, do you remember when you were about nine years old,
you wanted me to buy you a shot gun and a lot of other fool-killer
arrangements, and you thought I was awfully hard-hearted because
I wouldn't get 'em for you? I would have liked to have gratified
your desires, but, boy--it wasn't good business. So, also, the
cancellations--your company would like to “accommodate” their friends
by canceling their contracts if it would help them, but it isn't good
business. If they did so, they would be morally bound to cancel every
contract, if requested, because they should not do it for a few unless
willing to do it for all--they must treat all alike.

You know, everyone admires liberality, and similarly, most people like
to be liberal, but don't get away from the fact that in business you
can be liberal only up to a certain point, and after that it becomes
damfoolishness; and don't worry about losing the friendship of the
customer requesting cancellation. Any business man will admire you for
being a business man instead of a jelly-fish. He knows he has no good
business reason for expecting you to cancel and, son, you'll always
make more friends than enemies when you've the nerve to stand up under
fire when you're in the right.

                                        Your loving,

_The Boy Has Been Promoted to a “Special” Salesman_

Dear Hal:

Yes, I will admit that it begins to look like I never write you any
more except when you get a promotion, but I wouldn't advise you to
figure on that too closely, because sometimes I'm liable to fool you.

As a matter of fact I'm not much for writing letters except when I have
something to say, and when you were a little fellow I found that while
you were susceptible to suggestions and advice, you were very quick to
resent overdoses, so I've come to look on my letters a good deal like
beef extract--a little of it in a whole cup of hot water is a nice
thing, but no one relishes the idea of consuming a sixteen-ounce jar at
one sitting.

I was interested in your announcement that you had been appointed
a “special representative” and will travel out of Chicago doing
missionary work. I wonder if you used that word “missionary” advisedly,
or if it merely dropped out as a careless expression. Regardless of
that, I'm sure you used the right word, for as I understand it, that's
just exactly what a “special representative” should be, but I am
wondering if you are sure you really understand the full meaning of the

The usual adaptation of the word “missionary” as used in business
circles is, “one who is sent out to generate, extend and foster
business and all things pertaining thereto, on a certain product.”

Now, the same relative difference exists between a salesman and a
“special representative” as does between a common or garden variety of
preacher and a missionary, but the big trouble is a great many people
fail to analyze that difference, which accounts for so many failures in
the ranks of special representatives and church missionaries.

Now, if you'll go to the trouble to drop around theoretically, to a
“Home for Indigent (sounds like ‘indiligent,’ don't it?) Business and
Religious Missionary Failures,” you'd find after talking with Exhibit
A and B their ideas of a missionary are a sort of a combination
hand-shaking, chicken-eating, solicitous, dignified, well-dressed
hombre, who sort of exhaled good will and felicitations, who didn't
have any duties in particular, but just traveled around “for the good
of the cause.” And, of course, it goes without saying that that's the
reason why they're inmates of the Home.

It's true that a missionary is a sort of supersalesman, but it means
“salesman plus” rather than “graduate salesman.”

A real missionary goes into the highways and byways; as the old
fisherman says, “he ketches 'em where they ain't.” He generates
enthusiasm in the salesmen he comes in contact with; his sales work is
educational; he sets an example for industry, sales ability, loyalty;
he teaches the salesman to use superior judgment in not selling too
little or too much to a customer; he irons out petty difficulties; he's
an exponent of the sales theory that contemplates holding your head up,
but not so high as to let a lot of little orders go by under your nose
without seeing them. Yet withal, he is humility personified, which is
the true mark of a great man.

Now, son, don't tell me that I'm only telling you stuff that you
already know--of course, you know it--but what I want to know, do you
capitalize that knowledge one hundred per cent?

Just remember, Red, when you go out on these new jobs, there's a
Wrong Way and a Right Way. You've traveled the road far enough to be
able to distinguish the sign posts. While the Boss and Dad cannot see
everything you do, it's reflected in the results, boy; it's reflected
in the results!

                                        Your loving,

_Dad Gives the Boy Some Sound Advice Regarding Team Work_

Dear Hal:

When Mother read me your letter announcing that you had at last been
appointed a Branch House Manager, as well as your comments on just what
it meant to you, I thought I'd take time tonight to unburden myself of
some of my views in that connection, that might be interesting to you
at a time when you were just starting the new work.

I am wondering if you fully appreciate the difference in your position
from a standpoint of responsibility.

Up to now, you have been working entirely for someone else and while
you are still subject to considerable supervision, in addition thereto,
you will now have others under your supervision--working under you.

Of course, you've been through the different stages of your company
selling and around branch houses long enough to have a good working
idea of the general routine of the work and I don't doubt at all, but
what you will handle that end of your work in good shape, but right
now, at the start, Boy, let's look at the bigger, broader things that
are expected of you.

One of the first things that will impress you is just how poor a
salesman Smith is, over in the East territory and what great weaknesses
that new man over South is already demonstrating. Your hands will just
fairly itch to grab hold and do it all yourself, in your own way,
which, of course, you think is the only way, but _WHOA_--throw on the
emergency, Old Top, you're skidding! You're a hustler all right and a
good man, which you admit yourself, but, Boy, you just cannot spread
yourself out over the whole territory and run the branch too, and
again, if your company had wanted you to do all the selling they'd have
told you so.

No, your job is to teach and lead others to do most of the selling,
reserving only the hard-boiled and nursing-bottle customers that the
other boys cannot land, or for some reason seem to avoid.

I want to bear down a little on that remark “teach and lead.” You
know, back in the old days before Bryan ever ran for President, which
is longer than you can remember, the popular belief was that the best
way to get the best results out of a man on any job was for the Boss
to be sort of a mixture of Simon Legree, pyrotechnic cuss-words,
bar-room sarcasm and “_Drill ye Terriers, Drill_” policy, but thanks
to a revolutionary era which was directed by common hog-sense, instead
of the kind that the butcher buys in five pound pails, that kind of
man-management has been tabooed.

Yes, I know--I know there are a lot of things you're not going to stand
for and you're all right in it too. There are a lot of things you
shouldn't stand for, as a Manager, but what I'm talking about, Red, is
the best way to go about to correct them.

Before you sit down and dictate that red hot, phosphorous, steaming,
sizzling letter to Hulbert on account of the way he emphasized his
unfortunate displacement of bone, where gray matter should be, stop a
minute, Red, close your eyes a minute and let this picture come back.
Remember when you were new, when you were beating the brush?--you got
in that town that's always a Jonah; was raining and had been all week;
the farmers weren't paying their bills; it was inventory time and it
just seemed like every merchant you called on was just a little more
grouchy than the last; no one wanted your goods, and after working hard
all day in the rain and snow, you ended up at a so-called hotel that
made you think of the Biltmore--it was so different!

You were hungry, but after a glance at the greasy fried potatoes, a
pork chop burned to a cinder and the inevitable bread pudding, you
just swallowed the lump in your throat and called it a meal? After
sitting around the lobby making out a few reports and listening to the
senseless patter of a dumb-bell in a checked suit and a pink tie, you
took your little pitcher with the broken handle, filled it at the
faucet and went up to a sea-going bed that humped up in the middle like
William S. Hart's pet broncho?

Remember, Red, how you worried yourself to sleep--sick of the whole
bloomin' mess, but determined that if others could succeed, you could?
You got up in the morning, shaved in ice water, but stuck out your
chin and strode to the dining room? Remember the gum-chewing waitress
whom someone had told she looked like Theda Bara, who brought in a
murky glass of water and exclaimed in a breath, “Steakhamliver'nbacon
an' how'd you want yer aigs?” You wouldn't have known the coffee if
it hadn't been in a cup, but you picked around like an old hen and
sauntered out into the lobby still unbeaten when the fresh squirt
behind the register handed you three letters.

Ah, Red--how you smiled! The first one was written in a round girlish
hand and told of the good time she was planning with you when you got
back to “headquarters.” The next one was written in an old-fashioned
hand, now a little scrawly and nervous from age, but it carried the
“mother message” of hope and pride in the success she knew was bound to
come to “her boy.” Things weren't so black after all--you'd show those
hard-shell merchants you would. You were almost normal when you opened
the last letter, which from the envelope you knew was from “the Boss.”
It read--“Why don't you send us some orders--we didn't send you out to
write up weather reports; we don't pay your salary to allow you to loll
in good hotels. Unless you do better next week, we'll have to make a

Bam! How'd you feel, Red? Now, honest--hasn't it happened to you? Did
it fill you full of pep and enthusiasm and cause you to go out and just
knock the cover off the ball? You bet it didn't and such things never
will. That kind of letter was written by a graduate hack-driver, not a
real man manager.

New, Red, listen--you were made Branch Manager because of your
experience, not alone in the product--not alone in selling, but
experience in Life. Your company thinks you have seen so much of
conditions that you know how to “help” the weaker brother over the
rough places. Teach 'em, Red, lead 'em! The only place for a driver
is on the south end of a pair of mules. A kind word here, a helpful
suggestion there, will make your men want to take off their coats to
help you, Boy, and it is the cheapest way in the world to buy loyalty.

And Red, don't spend all your time telling the other fellow how to do
it. All men are not “from Missouri,” but the “show me” method carries a
healthier kick than volumes of sales talks.

You're going to be a busy man in the new job, Boy, but Mother and I
have decided now that we're glad we didn't insist on your finishing
your musical education, for some day we know you'll be a Sales Manager
and I tell Mother that if she had her way, you would now be playing the
snare drum in a jazz orchestra.

Let's go, Boy, let's go!

                                        Your loving,

_The Boy Is Having His Troubles as a Branch Manager_

Dear Hal:

Mother and I received your letter several days ago and I have given
quite some thought to the problems you mention, because I wanted to
advise you right, if at all.

Note you say you are not meeting with the success you expected to, in
your present campaign and you attribute it to several causes, among
them a consumers' hunger strike, conservative buying and lack of effort
on the part of the salesmen.

Well--now, of course, the Old Man may not know as much about it as you
do, but from several other statements you made in your letter, I'm
wondering if you have really struck the _real reason_.

I don't want to misjudge you, Boy, but those reasons you give are
becoming so much of a chestnut to me--I've heard 'em so often that I'm
pretty sure I know their origin. I know that during the holidays--just
before Christmas--you could hear those records being played on almost
any talking machine that you cared to listen to, but I thought surely,
with the coming of the New Year you'd forget the “Stove League
Chatter” and chase “Old Man Gloom” out into the sunshine.

You know, I'm reminded of a fellow I used to know when I wore knee
breeches. Tom Foreman was a boy who was raised in our town and who
never knew what it was to run off to go swimming, rob a melon patch
or play hookey. His folks always dressed him nice and he was a fair
student in school, but he never batted over about a hundred and
twenty-six in the back alley league, so, of course, there was no
farewell reception tendered him by “the gang” when his folks decided to
send him away to college.

Tom would come back to town for vacations for a brief visit, but
somehow or other his schooling didn't seem to humanize him any and each
time he came he seemed to be just a little more “uppish” than the time
before, but he was very fond of airing his superior wisdom--sort of
casting his pearls before swine, as it were, even though we didn't give
him any encores.

In this particular vicinity the only game that was available was a few
cotton-tails and an occasional Jack Rabbit in the winter time, so that
hunting had become a lost art and the sportively inclined always looked
to some other sort of amusement.

We never knew exactly how it happened, but it seemed like the boys
of the Eata Bita Pie Fraternity or whatever it was, got to talking
about hunting big game over their pipes one night and Tom suddenly
developed one of his bright ideas which had been heretofore extinct and
he took to bragging to his fellow pie-biters about the exceptionally
good hunting that was available in the vicinity of his old home
town. Although this was in the days before prohibition, Tom had
never seriously gone in for tonsil irrigation, yet it must have been
something that made him wax eloquent, for the first thing we knew he
had brought four embryo captains of industry down to our town, all
dressed up like a Roosevelt African party and they announced their
intention of going out on a big hunt. Tom, of course, was too learned
to ask any of the home-guard any questions, so they started out one
spring morning in full regalia.

The boys caused quite a little excitement among the fellows whose full
dress uniform consisted of a canvas cap with a coffee advertisement
printed on it, a pair of overalls and a fifty-cent shirt, but we
held that excitement in bounds until they came home in the evening.
Of course, we never knew the grewsome details, but along about seven
o'clock that night, the hunting party returned. The total bag of the
day consisted of three ground squirrels, a hawk, one rabbit and Lafe
Benson's tom-cat--and say, you should have heard the profane vocabulary
that those city chaps spilled every time Tom came near them. Of
course, Tom was their host and all that and they had to end their
remarks with an apology, but to sit around and listen you couldn't help
but gather the idea that Tom graded a good deal lower than water goods
in fruits, when they classified him as a huntsman.

Now, I just mention this story in passing, because it brings out the
fact that Tom and his party hadn't analyzed the situation. Their
intentions were good and they had plenty of equipment, but the
dumb-bell that was leading the party, Tom, hadn't given the matter any
thought and had no definite plan. He was just hoping that through some
miracle all the game for miles around would just come up and plead to
be shot.

You know, Red, some Branch House Managers employ similar tactics. They
have the product, the samples, the salesmen and the enthusiasm, but
they don't analyze the possibilities--they don't compare the sales with
the available prospects in a territory--they allow their salesmen to
take a turn-down from a buyer who should buy big, without attempting to
make another trial. You know an amateur hunter sometimes shoots into a
flock of ducks and wings a couple and you can sometimes stick a shotgun
under a corncrib and pull the trigger without looking and maybe kill a
rabbit, but the thinking hunter sees the game and does his best to pick
'em off, one by one, and generally comes in at night with a full bag.
A manager who allows his salesmen to come out of a town that has five
prospects, with two orders and three excuses, hasn't _taught_ 'em right.

The hunger strike was in Ireland--Red--not in your territory!
Conservative buying can be overcome, by not being a conservative
seller--_SELL MORE OF 'EM and OFTENER_.

Your salesmen's effort will not worry you if you don't waste it--direct

Remember, if your next letter don't tell of your being a top-notcher in
your campaign, it's going to hurt the pride of

                                        Your loving,

_Dad Tells the Boy Why It Pays to Advertise_

Dear Hal:

The letter Mother and I received from you just last night proved very
interesting to me and I've been thinking about it all day, for you
unconsciously wrote quite an essay on advertising.

From the general tone of your letter, I imagine that you have not given
any serious consideration to the many ramifications of advertising
and the true meaning of the word, for you seem to think that those in
charge of your business have a brother-in-law in the advertising game
whom they have to support and that therefore, they're spending a lot of
money uselessly, that they had better put into salesmen's salaries.

Now, I'm not an advertising expert, or very much up on the line of
argument that a real advertising man would turn loose on you under
similar circumstances. All I know about it has been learned in just the
old-fashioned school of common-sense plus what I see around me every
day and I am more than surprised to think that a red-headed scamp with
horn-rimmed goggles couldn't see certain signs as clearly as I do.

You seem to have the idea that because your line of goods is the finest
thing in cans on the market, and has been so for fifty years, that the
world and some parts of Missouri know it, never will forget it and
chant it as an ode before breakfast every morning and that therefore,
the constant advertising that your company keeps up is all unnecessary.
I further gather that you think the glib tongues of yourself and
salesmen, plus the glibness of your predecessors are entirely
responsible for the business you enjoy.

Now, I'm not denying for an instant the insistent urge of the contents
of the can on the appetite of the consumers or the efforts--_Real Sales
Efforts_--of the hard-hitting salesmen on your company's payroll, both
now and in the by-gone days, but I would like you to appreciate that
those things were nothing more than ADVERTISING and the other kind
of advertising that you are talking about is but another form that
augments the other and that all of it working together has been able to
produce this present result and to attempt to minimize the effect of
any of it is as foolish as the argument of the backwoods hill billy who
argued against giving his son an education because he had never had one.

Now, Red, you've traveled some and still do and I wonder if you ever
got acquainted with that black bound book with the red edges that lies
on the table in most hotel rooms. On the back of the book is a picture
of a water-pitcher and underneath it says something about being placed
there by the Gideon Society and if you ever looked in it, you'd find it
was that (almost obsolete to some salesmen) gem of literature known as
The Holy Bible. No, I'm not starting to preach--fact is, preachers are
not the only ones who read the Bible. I'll admit that it isn't always
as lively reading as Ade or Ibanez, but strange as it may seem to you,
you heathen, this Book is not only found in hotel rooms, but on the
reading desks of our best citizens--and there's a reason.

You know, Red, the Bible isn't an old moth-eaten account of prehistoric
people, as some might think, but it really contains some of the best
business stories that you can pick up.

Speaking again of advertising, if you'll just open up that Book the
next time you're in a hotel room, or can borrow one from the neighbors,
turn to the latter part of the Book of Genesis and begin to read about
Joseph. For fear you will not get to your hotel room from the pool hall
soon enough, or your own Bible is in the trunk in the storeroom, I'll
just tell you about it.

It seems that this fellow Joseph was kind of a hard luck individual
in the early days and he got off on the wrong foot with his brethren
and was sold into bondage and carried down into Egypt. He sparred
around in Egypt for several years, just like lots of others do in these
days, without being taken very seriously--sort of working the retail
trade, as it were, when by some clever bit of personal advertising,
like stepping on a fellow's foot or something, he got acquainted with
Pharaoh, who was the Woodrow Wilson of the party in power at that
time. It seems that Pharaoh had some kind of a dream (this same thing
still happens you know) and Joe had the good Fortune to be allowed to
interpret it. He predicted that there would be a famine in the land
following several years of plenty and he sold the idea to Pharaoh so
well that Pharaoh set up a Food Administration and appointed Joseph as
the Herbert Hoover of it and he immediately started a corner on the
grain market.

Well, to make a long story short--Joe had the right “dope” and just
as he predicted there was a famine fell upon the land, but due to
Joseph's foresight, which was unhampered by politicians, there was
plenty of food for all and Joe became a great man. Joseph's brothers
who had mistreated him when he wore knee pants, came down to see him
and brought Dad along and they were quite surprised to find him the Big
Noise in Egypt, but they were hungry.

Now, Joe had been raised right--was a decent sort of chap and all that,
so he welcomed them and persuaded 'em to go back and bring the rest of
the “gang.” They did so and the first thing they knew Egypt looked like
Coney Island on Sunday afternoon--just full of Jews, and the people
treated them fine because they were Joseph's relatives.

Then, if you'll skip on to the first few verses in Exodus, you'll find
a sentence that speaks volumes. It says “And there arose a new king in
the land who knew not Joseph.” Now, get that Red--“There arose a new
king in the land who knew not Joseph.” What can be plainer than that?
Did you ever hear a better advertising argument? You see, Joseph got to
thinking just like you talk--he thought he didn't need ADVERTISING.

The rest of the story goes on to tell how the Jews fell in popular
favor--they failed to keep their name, their merits and their
accomplishments before the people and a new king arose who knew not

Now I only tell you this story in passing and tell it in the language
I do because it's the only language you seem to understand. There are
lots of other good stories in the Bible--dig 'em out Red--they're good
for you.

Boy, listen! Advertising doesn't mean just so much printer's ink
in the newspapers, or magazines. That's the most familiar form and
it's necessary and produces big, but there are other kinds. You know
the majority of your trade never knew the founders of your company
personally. When they think of your company they think of you. You're
the point of contact. What kind of an advertisement are you for the
firm? Did you ever think of the responsibility you are carrying as a
manager of your company? Do you know that every move, every letter
you write, every position you take means that you are portraying your
company to someone?

In business a new king arises in the land every day. There's a new
retail grocer--a new jobber--or jobber's buyer on a thousand corners.
They know not Joseph--regardless of how good your product is, or how
long you've been on the territory, IT TAKES ADVERTISING TO PUT YOU

I'm going to bed, Red, hoping I haven't bored you. Just remember that
the Old Man is always hoping that your personal label means as much as
the label on your company's can--if it does--ADVERTISE.

                                        Your loving,

_Dad Counsels the Boy to Throw Away His Knickers and Put on Long Pants_

Dear Hal:

Mother just finished reading your last letter aloud to me and while I
know my quick reply will sort of shock you, I cannot help but unload a
few pet ideas I have along the lines suggested in your letter.

If the proverbial innocent bystander, or casual observer were to pick
up your letter in the street and would take it seriously (which I
don't) he'd certainly pick you up as hopeless, for the whole wail of
your letter, in criticising the way the home office is handling you in
particular and the sales organization in general, reminds me so much of
the kind and constructive verbal barrage that a Republican Senator lays
down every time a Democratic colleague intimates in public that his
party won the World War.

A little over a week ago, I found time hanging a little heavily on my
hands so I thought I'd take a run out to the Stock Yards and visit
a little in your company's office. I don't know why I did it--guess
it was a little touch of parental pride, or sentiment that must have
come over me and I thought I'd go out and let 'em kid me along about
that red-headed son of mine. Anyway, knowing them so well out there,
I thought I'd enjoy the trip and I wasn't disappointed. Things have
changed quite a little since my time, but if I'm any judge they haven't
forgotten the Old Man's admonition to “_keep up the quality_” not only
in the product, but also in the caliber of the men who are running the
business from the “boss” himself, clear down to the office boy.

Then I sat down at the boss' desk and just as I expected he had some
very nice things to say about you which, of course, were hard to take.
After talking to him as long as I thought I dared, I went over and sat
down at the desk where all the General Sales Department mail was being
sorted and I summoned up enough courage to ask to see the open files
they had with you. Don't know why I did it--guess it was just because
I was curious to see how well you handled things and I suppose they
thought they'd gratify an old man's whim by allowing it--anyway, they
handed me a big bunch of correspondence and I went over and sat down in
one of the private offices so I could digest it.

The first letter I picked up from the pile ran something like this,
“Attached please find a letter from Salesman Hooiszis, asking that
we purchase an automobile. What do you want to do with it?” And,
as I expected, the salesman's letter was typical of what could be
expected from your letter. It merely said he “thought” he could get
more business working with an automobile than he could by walking--no
data--no estimates--no logical reasons, in fact no nothing on which
anyone could base an intelligent opinion as to whether the request was

Then I picked up another one of your letters that ran something
like this, “Salesman I. M. Whatshisname was sick all of last week.
Please advise if I shall pay him or not.” A flat statement with no
recommendation as to what action you, as a Manager, would like taken.

Then I picked up a third letter that ran a good deal like this, “We
have on hand twenty-eight Christmas Boxes which we have been unable to
sell. No doubt some of the other houses have a market for them. Will
you not please give us disposition.”

By the time I got through with that, Red, I'll confess I had mingled
emotions. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I wondered if they
were framing up on me to give my pride a jolt and I looked out the door
at the two men who handled those letters--noticed the bald spots on
their heads, the wrinkles beginning to show around their eyes and the
gray commencing to come around the temples and, Red--on the level, Boy,
I didn't wonder.

I couldn't help but think of the story of the long suffering Job or how
the songs and stories of the centuries have told of the long suffering
patience of Mother Love and I'll confess I couldn't figure it out, for
those fellows didn't have the appearance of the Job I'd had described
to me, nor did they resemble doting mammas, so I gathered up the bunch
of letters, red in the face I'll admit, and went out and asked one of
'em how in the double-jointed, concentrated essence of modern profanity
they managed to reconcile their keeping you on the payroll after
writing such letters as those first three. He looked at 'em, scratched
his bald spot, smiled--think of it, Red, (you red-headed pepper-box)
smiled when I was all ready for the thirty-second degree of apoplexy
and said, “Well, Dad, the only trouble with you is that you quit after
reading the first three.” Then he took up the rest, one by one, and
showed me stuff that gradually brought me down to earth.

He showed me a dozen along the same line and ended up by saying, “You
see, Dad, Red is a pretty good boy after all--it wasn't very long ago
that he was made Manager and he sometimes overlooks the fact that
more is now expected of him and we'll admit that some of his letters
do smack of the kindergarten, but he's sensible and we're trying to
teach him that we employ Managers to come to us _with_ a decision or
recommendation, not _for_ one; something that we can approve or show
him why it is impractical. In other words, to _think for us_, not we
for him. And again, we are trying to pound through that red pate of
his that stock he has is _his_ responsibility--must be moved in his
territory--not shipped to a more aggressive brother Manager.

“Don't you worry, Dad, Red has his faults, but he'll grow up.”

So I left, Red, feeling that your company was a little more tolerant
than I would be and I guess after all, I'll have to take some of the
blame for your last letter, in that you're my son, but when I read that
letter of yours--full of criticism, but strangely minus suggestions--I
couldn't help mutter, “Take off the rompers, Boy, take 'em off--get on
the long pants--you're a big boy now.”

Just remember--anyone can criticize, but the boy with the sensible
suggestion for improvement and the definite logical recommendation,
doesn't have to sit on the bench when they play the World's Series.

Goodnight Red--think it over.

                                        Your loving,

_The Boy Has Begun to Solicit Dad's Counsel_

Dear Hal:

Your last letter made me happier than I can begin to tell you. In it
you related some of your problems and really _asked_ advice. I was
beginning to think you are getting “fed up” on my unsolicited counsel
but feel complimented to know you now want more of it.

But, leaving the personal side out of it, you know, Red, the smart man
is the one who collects ideas from every one he meets, separates the
wheat from the chaff and then capitalizes them, and it's a sincere
pleasure for me to know that you've at last arrived at the age when you
are big enough to admit that when brains were passed around you didn't
get all of 'em.

So you're wondering what's the matter with your salesmen, eh? They
don't seem to take things seriously and worry whether they get business
or not--always looking forward to pay-day and that's all--eh, what? All
right--your description of their attitude is so good that I believe I
know just where the trouble is.

I suppose you were too young at the time to get the lesson, but, Red,
your case reminds me of something that used to happen regularly when
you were a little boy. Do you remember years ago when you used to
have that brindle pup? He wasn't much to look at--had no pedigree,
or anything, but was just plain dog--the kind whose only excuse for
living was that he was a playmate of a freckle-faced, red-headed boy.
Well, anyway, the little girl next door had a cat for a pet, if you'll
remember. Similarly to the dog, the cat hadn't taken any blue ribbons
and about the only thing she did worth mentioning now, at least, was
to notify the family that claimed her, ever so often, that she was the
proud mother of a mess, and I say it advisedly, Red, a mess of kittens.

But the Boss of the house didn't appreciate her being so prolific--not
being as interested in cat farms as our old friend Charlie Emery. So
ever so often, while you and the neighbor girl were out to a toddle
party, her father and myself would sneak down in their basement,
ostensibly to look over the last sad remnants of his private stock
(which is speaking in an unknown tongue to you now), but primarily to
increase the mortality list of the cat specie by holding each kitten
in the bottom of a pail of water until eight of their proverbial nine
lives had taken flight for cat heaven.

Now, Spud, your pup and Puss, the mother cat, were never what you
might call affinities. Even though the two families with whom they
were living were always close friends, the same measure of respect and
esteem was not shared by Spud and Puss. As a result, every time Spud
would spy Puss in the backyard he'd let out a mongrel yelp and start
for her with the obvious intention of annihilating her.

Now the thing that used to impress me about this almost daily scene was
that when Puss didn't have any kittens--no family responsibilities, as
it were--when Spud rushed for her she'd turn tail and do a double-quick
for the nearest tree, registering all the fear and retiring qualities
that we come to expect in the female of the species.

But when Puss had kittens, still undrowned, particularly when she was
enjoying a siesta in their presence, Spud could make his flying start
with all the gusto and bluff that is common to cur tactics, but when he
arrived at the point of contact Puss would bow her back, never budge
an inch and show all the courage of the early Spartans. The result,
of course, was that on such occasions the fun was all out of the game
for Spud and he was clearly “sold” on the proposition that Puss could
not be bluffed, and he'd beat a hasty retreat before getting within
paw-length of the confident Puss.

Now, Red, that's all there is to the story, except the _moral_. Just
consider the salient points. Same dog, same cat, same backyard, but
different performance. Why, Red, why? Ah!--you've got it, I know.
_Inspiration_--that's it--that's the word. Puss with kittens had an
inspiration that Puss without them didn't have.

Now, Boy, take this lesson right home with you and apply it to your
own problem. What your salesmen lack is _inspiration_, and you're the
little doctor with the hypodermic to give it to 'em. Of course, it
doesn't apply literally, even though some people do claim that the man
with the big family has as many more reasons as he has mouths to feed,
why he should make a success, but--I don't mean it that way, Red--I
don't mean it that way. You must teach your men to _speak_ and _feel_
about _your company as_ “We,” not as “the house.”

Any man with a single spark of ambition should look forward to an
eventual goal, considerably farther than the weekly pay-check. His
permanency on their payroll and the advancement he should hope to
merit, depends entirely upon the combined efforts of the company
family. His success is their success, and without favorable results
neither he, nor they, can prosper.

_Teach 'em, Red--show 'em their responsibility!_ Fire their minds and
hearts with the fact that they're not working for the company--bless
your heart, Boy, they _are_ the company to all intent and purpose on
their territory, and either their lackadaisical or their aggressive,
businesslike demeanor and actions will be interpreted by their trade
exactly as they appear and the company will be so reflected. And when
you tell 'em, Red, be sure that the _enthusiasm_ you have, which as you
know, is the fuse that ignites _opportunity_, is showing in your eyes,
your face and is reflected from your heart. _Enthusiasm--Inspiration._
Ah! Red, it's contagious--show 'em how proud you are to say
“_We_”--show 'em that it's a privilege to be a part of an organization
that holds the place it does in the firmament of a big business. _Sell
'em the company idea first_--then sell 'em the line.

After that, Red, if I'm not mistaken, you'll have 'em sitting on the
edge of the chair, rarin' to go, filled with the kind of red-blooded
courage that has made American ideas and American ideals a synonym for

If you sell your salesmen all that, Old Top, and keep 'em sold by your
living example, I don't think you'll have to worry about the results
they turn in. If that doesn't work, then the Old Man's experience with
human nature is a failure and he'll be disappointed in his own judgment
and the ability of his fire-brand son.

Keep me posted--I like it.

                                        Your loving,

_The Boy Has Told Dad of His Latest Pet “Peeve”_

Dear Hal:

Mother and I have a lot of fun before we open each of your letters,
speculating on whether or not you're going to tell us of some unusual
accomplishment, or air a pet peeve. So far, the peeves you've aired
have been so imaginary that we have enjoyed them just as much as your
successes, so don't harbor the thought that we'd attempt to discourage
your letter-writing style for a moment. In fact, Mother thinks that
my chief enjoyment these days is giving you advice in answer to the
problems you mention and I guess she's not so far off, at that--Mother
never is, you know.

So you're all “het up” and about ready to quit over the fact that
the boss has put a “District Manager” or “General Man” over you, eh?
You're not going to stand for all this “supervision;” if you're not
capable of running your branch and working direct with Chicago, you
want to know it--eh? And especially, do you want 'em to know that
you're every bit as capable as the fellow they picked out as your
so-called superior--and just where do they get all these new-fangled
notions about supervision. Of course, Mr. So and So is a nice fellow
personally, but you just don't intend to be bossed by anyone except the
General Sales Manager himself and this and that, and this and that, and
this and that!!! Whew! Gee! but our cat's got a long tail.

You know, Red, really you furnish me a lot of amusement. All I have to
do to thoroughly enjoy myself after reading a letter like yours is to
light up an old jimmy-pipe, get in the old arm chair, close my eyes and
live over again the old days when you were a little shaver about nine
years old. Whenever that white-headed brother of yours would get into
a game of marbles or a checker game with you and Junior would begin
to get a little the best of you, you'd throw one of those red-headed,
temperamental fits of yours, kick over the checker-board, throw away
your marbles, toss that vermillion mane in the air, chew up a couple of
lead pencils and swear by all the by-laws of Huckleberry Finn and Tom
Sawyer that you'd be tetotally dod-buttered and ding-busted if you'd
ever play a game with him again.

The amusing part about it, Red, was that it was only a brain storm that
I used to attribute to your general fiery disposition, for in less than
five minutes you'd forgotten all the vindictive utterances and were
playing with the brother again just as sweet and happy as you please.

Yes, it was funny, Boy, and I used to get many a good laugh, but
Red, when you put one of 'em on paper at your age, I'll have to admit
the only way I get a laugh is to try to think of you as a kid. As a
kid, it was truly laughable, but for a fellow as big and as old as
you are now--LONG PANTS--hair on your upper lip and wearing a vest
n'everything--on the level Red, you're as funny as an epileptic
fit--you're pitiful!

Now listen, Old Top, before you make up your mind to walk out and leave
the company lying on its back gasping--just sit down a minute and
let's talk this over. You've got all the confidence in the world in
the “Big Boss” haven't you? You think pretty well of his judgment and
wouldn't put yours up as being superior to it for a minute, now would
you? Of course not! Now just let this thought ooze into that corrugated
cast-iron brain of yours--your company isn't running a peanut stand any
more--they might have been small enough one day when the Boss himself
could put up the window-shades and sweep out the office every night,
but that time has passed, Boy, that day is gone.

Admitting that, doesn't it occur to you that the Boss has to have a
little help in running the business? No one ever made a success of any
business if he didn't attend to it; if he didn't know what was going on
all the time. You'd think anyone a lunatic who expected you to sell all
the goods handled through your branch, deliver them yourself and do
all the billing. You'd say it just couldn't be done, which is true and
then you'd go on and sketch how you'd organize a force to do all of it
with your help, of course, and you'd know what's going on every minute.

All right--now doesn't it dawn on you that you are expecting the Big
Boss to be as ridiculous as the suggestion about your doing all the
work in your branch, when you voice those one-quarter of one per cent
sentiments, criticising him for calling in help to handle a far more
complex problem than your little unit?

The General Sales Manager of a company like yours, which does business
in all parts of the world, has a pretty big task cut out for him.
You may be a conscientious, intelligent, hard-working manager, but
you're human, Red, and being human, you're not always one hundred per
cent right and it's his job to know all about you and the way you're
handling your business, all the time. You're not foolish enough to
think he can keep in as close touch as would be necessary to know all
these things, with scores of branches, are you? Of course not! Well,
all right then, just how is he going to do it? You know the answer
just as well as I do--so granting that help is necessary and that he
has to have someone to be his “eyes” in the field--who's going to do
it and what would YOU call the position? The answer is obvious--he
must have “District Managers” and if you were the Boss just who would
you pick as a District Manager? I know just what you're going to say,
so I'll say it first. Of course, he could pick the oldest managers on
the force--and their experience would make good District Managers of
them--mind you, but that would be wishing an awful hard job on those
old fellows who deserve to take it easier than they could on a District
Manager's job. The older managers have arrived at a place in life where
they don't want to spend fifteen nights out of thirty on a Pullman and
you cannot blame 'em.

The District Manager's title may sound awfully nice, but it's no
flowery bed of ease, Red, believe me. All right then, if that's
impractical, what is the answer? I'll tell you--they pick men who have
had a broad experience in the game; men who have had good reputations
as good housekeepers; men who know how to analyze branch house expense
as well as sales results; men who are so constituted that they can
give REAL HELP to a manager who is intelligent enough to use the
experience and advice that is thus afforded. It's no reflection against
your intelligence and ability to have one of 'em over you--why bless
your old red-headed soul, the only man in this life who don't need
supervision, that I know of, is a wooden Indian in front of a cigar
store. He's bolted down--no brains--just a wooden man! Why even the
officers of a company have supervision in the board of directors
and back of the board are the stockholders, and boy, they're some

And Red, don't let anyone of human intelligence overhear you question
the ability of the man supervising--don't you know when you do that,
you're questioning the judgment of the Big Boss himself and Boy, you
mustn't do that because you're old enough to know better. Just put
this in your pipe, Old Top, anybody nowadays who's holding a job that
requires ability, has got it tucked away around his system some place,
I'll admit that sometimes it's pretty hard for a youngster to see, but
it's there, Boy, it's there. Some day you'll be a District Manager if
you'll just quit standing on your own foot.

After thinking over what I've said, if you still feel like you did when
you wrote your letter, go ahead and send in your resignation--they'll
accept it and not pass any dividends either. I'm hoping however, that
your letter was just a recurrence of one of your childish temperamental
fits and if so, I'll laugh at it just like I used to. If not, I suppose
I'll have to go down and try and find a job for you driving a hack, so
please don't make it hard for

                                        Your loving,

_The Boy Has Met the Girl--He Sounds Dad Out on Matrimony_

Dear Hal:

Mother and I have had several executive sessions since receiving your
last letter, and you can well imagine that I've received a lot of
“advice” from her as to just how to answer it, but it's no use--the
Good Lord so constituted me that I have to “speak right out in meeting”
if at all, so if I'm going to advise you along the line you requested,
I've just got to tell you how I feel about it without reservation, so
here goes!

You didn't tell us much in your letter about how far this affair of
yours had gone and it makes it a little difficult on that account. You
talk like there's nothing “serious” yet and that you're just wondering
about certain “features” of Life's greatest adventure. Well, I hope
you're not kidding the “old man,” for I'm too old a bird to know that
if you're all through with the overture, prologue and the medley of
popular airs between the first and second act, that it's too late for
me to try and break up the party, so if you're telling me the truth,
the few words of advice I'll give may fall on fertile ground, but
if not, Boy, it may sting a little, but anyway, you've brought it on
yourself, as Delilah remarked to Sampson when he started the rough
house in the Temple.

I have half a notion to send your letter back to you just to show you
how little you really told us about Her. About all I've been able to
gather, after reading your letter about five times, is that she's about
the finest thing in petticoats that ever wielded a lipstick; comes from
“an awfully old and respected family;” is the only child; has been
raised a pet; is beautiful and accomplished (presume you mean by that,
she can dress herself with the assistance of a couple of maids) and her
“old man” has oodles of money. Humph! somehow that description don't
thrill me a bit!

Now, Red, before you begin to get red above the collar-band, just let
me say in passing that I don't mean anything personal about the girl
at all--she cannot help it because she's that way, and there's just
a chance that I've got her all wrong. No doubt she's all you said
about her and then some, but if she is, I'm just wondering if you
accidentally picked up a white chip on the floor, or just how you came
to get a hand in the game?

Not that there's anything about it that isn't good enough for anyone of
that description--no--far be it from me, Red, to run down the quality
of your personal line, but your description doesn't mean anything to
a fellow who has lived long enough to know that there's something more
to this life than moonlight and honeysuckle. I can almost hear you say
that the “old man” is hard-boiled, maybe I am, but there's a practical
side to this matrimonial game and it is a pretty good thing to consider
seriously before you go into the musical comedy features.

Now let's discuss this thing from a sensible standpoint. This “old and
respected family” business is a nice thing, Red, but it will not add a
single item to the order you get from the wholesale grocer around the
corner: What does she know about sewing buttons on a union suit so you
will not have to use up a whole card of safety pins? I've found that
knowledge fairly essential in cold weather.

She's an “only child”--a “pet,” eh? Well, that's fine, Red. It's nice
to know that you will not have a couple of “old maid” sisters-in-law to
help you ride range and boss the outfit, but does she show any signs of
being ambitious enough to get up at 6:30 A. M. and cook breakfast for
you, or do you think you'd have to go around to the Greasy Greek's for
your coffee and? Maybe that thought hasn't occurred to you, especially
when standing under a Southern Moon when the Zephyrs waft the odor of
the Lilacs; but, Boy, the Zephyrs should some day waft the odor of a
few pieces of bacon with you on the receiving end in your own dining
room, and you'll appreciate that more and more as your pompadour

I like that part of your description where you say she's beautiful and
accomplished. That means a lot, Boy, but am wondering if you mean it
the way I'd like to believe. God never made anything more beautiful
than a good woman. She's His Masterpiece, all right--there's no doubt
about that, but some folks' idea of beauty is different from mine. The
cleverest word painter who ever wrote a massage cream ad, couldn't
commence to picture that beauty--that beggars description--that
rapturous smile that is born of the very whispering of angels which
lights a mother's face when she hears the first cry of her new-born
babe. Beauty--why, Boy--the symmetry or form and feature of a Venus
pales into insignificance beside it, and the funny thing about it is no
one woman, or type, has a corner on it. Of course, you've never dreamed
of that example, but it's coming to you, Boy, it's coming to you.

And “accomplished”--well, what do you mean by that? Has she taken
a post-graduate course in Victrola lessons, can toddle and sing in
Society's amateur “Follies,” or do you mean you think she could
some day referee a bout between a couple of lusty-lunged seven and
ten-year-old boys, croon a lullaby to a nursing baby and keep the
Sunday roast from burning, all at the same time? I'll say you want to
get one that's “accomplished,” but it's a damsite more important to
visualize just what they could “accomplish” later, than what has gone

Note you say “her old man has oodles of money,” but you forgot to
mention whether he was a burglar, a politician, or a flat owner--not
that there's very much difference, but I was sort of curious. Anyway,
as I see it, that's the least important thing in your description.
The “old man” may be a decent sort, after all, and may have got it by
marriage or from one of Ryan's tips on the stock market, so it may not
be his fault. At least, I don't see how that's going to affect you
in the least. I know you well enough to know, Red, that you'll never
become one of those parasites who, on account of having money in the
family, find their most arduous duty the daily airing of a poodle dog
on a string--neither can I picture you under any circumstances paying
your cigarette bills with other than the coin you had personally
earned, so I'm not going to comment on that feature.

Now listen, Red, I expect you think that I've been pretty caustic in
the foregoing, and in order to let you win an argument I'll agree; but,
Boy, this marriage thing is a more serious problem than you think it
is. I appreciate that there are a great many requisites to look for in
a wife that I haven't enumerated above. It goes without saying that
you will choose eventually a girl fully worthy of you in intelligence,
beauty, lineage and what not, but I do want you to come down out of the
clouds--realize that there's something more to it than love and kisses
and a cottage.

Remember the girl you choose will sit across the table from you for
thousands of dinners. She may look awfully good in a party dress, but
will she show up as well in a Mother Hubbard with her hair in curl
papers? She may make an exquisite Welsh rarebit, but can she brew a
real cup of coffee? She may be charming in the receiving line at an
afternoon function, but can she build a satisfactory pair of rompers?

I've sort of born down on one feature, Red--I've done so advisedly,
because in my opinion the deciding question, after all is said and
done, is, “What kind of a mother will she make for my children?” If
you can honestly answer that question and give a favorable one, the
rest will take care of themselves, Boy--the rest will take care of

And, after reading this, Red, if the idea should come to you that
maybe the “old man” don't know what he's talking about, just stop a
minute--pause, Boy, and consider that it took some little picker to
choose one who has come up to every one of these qualifications--your
Mother! and the other half of the sketch knows that he'll always be
proud to sign himself

                                        Your loving,

_The Boy Has Been Bragging a Little_

Dear Hal:

Mother and I have had quite a discussion tonight about your last letter
and we've just about come to the conclusion that you're eating too much
rooster meat, or something else with similar effect, for your last
letter certainly shows that you're getting “cocky.” Of course, you may
have reason to be, on account of something you're holding back. Maybe
Mother and I don't quite appreciate just how important you really are,
but anyway the local cigar man hasn't displayed any cigar boxes with
your pictures on 'em yet, so we're forced to assume that you're just
feeling your oats a bit.

I notice that you've arrived at the place where you complain quite a
little about the damphool things the Chicago office writes you about
and the asininity of some of their requests and plans. It seems they've
insulted your intelligence by questioning some of your moves and that
they certainly have had enough experience with you to know that you
wouldn't do anything but one way, which, of course, is the right way,
and you're getting tired of being bothered with so many bunglers and

Now, Red, if you think that your otherwise good letter is going to
kindle a single spark of sympathy in the Old Man, you're just as
mistaken as if you'd torn your shirt.

The first thing I wonder about is, just how do you get that way? I
suppose you've been working pretty hard, your digestion is bad, or else
you've quit smoking or something else has turned up to change the even
alto of your way, because the symptoms you are displaying are not at
all new to me, or anyone else who has gotten over the college yell days
of business life. No--we've all gone thru it, Boy, we've all gone thru
it, and the only question in my mind in your case is, will it turn out
to be only baby rash, or a genuine case of the measles?

You know, ever since Hector was a pup, pretty nearly every
five-fingered snoozer has sometime or other in his life arrived at a
place where he thought everything he did was one hundred per cent right
and he formed a hundred and five proof pity for the poor unfortunate
numskulls who didn't agree with him. It's a sort of childhood disease
that has to be gone thru, like mumps, chicken-pox or hog cholera. The
majority of the victims recover after a very brief illness and there
have been but few cases where it actually killed the victim. However,
there are numerous cases on record where it has necessitated an
operation to remove the ego and quite a few instances where it has left
the victim in such shape that they had to seek out-door employment
like ringing up fares on the back platform of a street car, or riding
on top of a hansom cab.

Now Mother and I are not very much concerned in your case, because we
know you have a rugged constitution that will pull you thru the crisis,
but we're wondering if it wouldn't do you a little good to sort of hold
up the mirror and let you see just how ludicrous you look to the rest
of the world while you're suffering from this malady. Remember how
funny you looked when you had the mumps and when you were all broken
out with Liberty measles? Well, Boy, if that brought the smiles of the
onlookers, your present indisposition makes 'em burst out laughing.

Now listen, Red, your entire trouble can be diagnosed as just a
perverted point of view and every time I use that expression I am
reminded of a call I once made at a hospital when the nurse and the
doctor called me in to get my first peep at a little squirming mite of
humanity that afterwards learned to call me Dad. In my enthusiasm and
paternal pride, I exclaimed “Some girl” but the doctor just shook his
head and said, “No, you're mistaken--a boy.” Now Red, I wasn't exactly
an idiot. I knew more or less about babies and all that, but the reason
the doctor and I didn't agree was purely point of view. He knew,
whereas I was only jumping at conclusions.

But to go back to your symptoms. Of course, I know you're going to tell
me where you can point out where you were asked by Chicago to furnish
information, or do something that you knew wasn't what they wanted--was
nonsensical, etc., and I'll agree with you--now--think a minute!
Chicago don't claim to be above errors, mistakes and cases of bad
judgment. Of course not, and do you know why they make no such claims?
Well, I'll tell you. It's because they've gone thru and gotten over the
same illness you have. They know as long as they are dealing with the
human equation, errors will creep in, but haven't you noticed, now be
honest Red, that they don't jump at conclusions like you do and doesn't
it occur to you that if they have found clairvoyance impractical as
compared to cold fact, that they will naturally ask more questions,
demand clearer explanations and expect you to conduct your end in a
more self-explanatory fashion than otherwise?

The trouble with you, Old Top, is that when you get a letter from
Chicago requesting a little, simple thing and especially if they don't
go to the trouble to explain every reason why they want it, which they
shouldn't have to do, you immediately begin to hunt for holes in it.
Instead of thinking along the lines of how quick you can comply, you
begin to wonder if there's a hidden meaning in it; if they couldn't get
the same thing some other place, etc., and you burn up ten times as
much energy and write more letters trying not to do what is wanted than
you would if you'd just go about and do it.

You know, Red, when you were a little fellow you had the same symptoms,
but I thought you'd outgrow 'em. When you were about nine years old
and would do something that I thought you should be disciplined for
slightly, I would frequently order you to go over and sit down in a
certain chair. After so much hesitation you'd start, but you'd take
a circuitous route, knock over the piano bench, kick the cat and
eventually, if I kept after you, you'd arrive at the chair designated,
but afterward, when in lower mathematics you learned the axiom that
the shortest distance between two given points was a straight line, I
thought you had gotten over it, but I guess not--eh, what?

Now to make you feel a little better, I'll admit that men higher up
than you often get the wrong point of view and I'll illustrate. One
time information came to the home office that a certain competitor
was putting a special pack on the market in a certain large city, but
not letting it be known that it was special by packing it under the
same label that they were using all over the country. Naturally, this
was important and needed quick investigation. Chicago wired their
manager in that city to pick up some samples of that brand and send in

Chicago didn't go to the trouble to explain their reasons--it wasn't
necessary and long telegrams cost money. A few days later they received
a letter from this manager which read something like this: “I received
your wire asking me to send you samples of Blank's Beans. I cannot
understand why you should bother me with a request of this kind when
all you'd have to do would be to go into any store in Chicago and buy
the same thing, therefore, I am not complying with your request.”
He even went so far as to send a copy to the Boss expiating on the
asininity of the dumb-bell making such a request and, of course,
expecting quite a pat on the back for his forethought.

I guess I don't need to finish the story; you can imagine the Golden
Text that the Boss thought of after reading the letter, particularly
considering that it was his suggestion in the first place.

Now Red, this means only one thing--if you're loyal (and you are)
don't look for the holes in every proposition that's put up to you
until you arrive at a position where your chief duties are to look for
those holes. As long as you're working under someone else, give your
superior the benefit of the doubt. He may make some mistakes, but don't
be trying to read his mind. Don't get cynical--give the other fellow
credit for having a reason for asking what he does. Get out your old
yellow copy of Elbert Hubbard's preachment “The Message to Garcia” and
note how that fellow, when given a task, didn't look for the holes in
it, or question the motive, but went ahead and did it.

There's a lesson in it for you, Boy--get it!

                                        Your loving,

_Dad Warns of the Evil Spirit That Whispers “You Haven't Time”_

Dear Hal:

Mother and I arrived home without mishap and she said I should write
you at once and let you know that we arrived safely and to tell you
again how much we appreciated the good time that you showed us on our

Am mighty glad I went to the office with you Saturday and attended your
meeting with your salesmen. You were so busy just about the time I had
to run away to make my train that I didn't get to tell you several
little points that I picked up, but I guess I can tell you just as well
in this letter.

You probably noticed that I made it my business to sort of “mill”
around with your various men and engage them in conversation. I want to
congratulate you on the class of men you have gotten together. They're
a credit to you, Boy, and with that bunch of enthusiastic live-wires, I
don't think you need to worry a bit about your results just as long as
you direct them properly.

There was one thing that struck me very forcibly as I talked to your
various salesmen. Every one of them had a great big territory and they
freely admitted that they weren't calling on all their prospects; said
they didn't have time and they admitted that they picked out the best
and biggest prospects where they were pretty sure to land an order and
then rushed on to another town and went through the same performance.

Now, Red, I don't blame your men for that condition--I think they are
sincere in thinking they are doing just right, particularly because you
have so routed them. Neither do I blame you, so all-fired much, because
you just haven't given it enough thought so far, but listen--

Years ago, where I was raised, it was a great country for raspberries.
As you know, the berry season is a pretty short one and the farmers
raising them had to depend to no small extent on hiring a gang of boys
just out of school to pick them. All us fellows were pretty anxious
about that time of the year to earn a little pocket money and we
descended on those berry patches like a swarm of bees. Usually, the
days were pretty hot and when night came, we were a pretty tired bunch
of Indians and although we worked pretty hard we hadn't earned a great
deal for we were paid so much per quart.

One of the boys used to turn in about twice as many berries every day
as the rest of us and the farmer used to tell us every night the reason
he did so was because he put more berries in the pail than he did in
his mouth. Of course, that line of talk was pretty good berry patch
repartee, but it set me thinking because I knew I was just as quick as
the other fellow; that I worked as hard and I didn't like raspberries
anyway, so I knew I wasn't wasting any on the consumer's pack method,
so, one night I caught up with the star picker on his way home and
asked him for the secret. He looked at me and chuckled and said, “Come
on home with me and get my Dad to tell you.” This aroused my thirteen
year old curiosity, so I went along with him. When we got home we found
his father on the back porch and he said, “Dad, tell my pal here what
you told me about picking berries.”

It happened that this boy's Dad was one of those fellows who knew all
about boys, so he didn't answer the question right off, but first began
by talking regular boy's lore--all about swimmin' holes, how the fish
were bitin', where we'd be liable to find an eagle's nest and a lot of
the kind of things boys like us were interested in--you know Red, the
kind of a Dad who just had you hanging on to every little thing he said
and just making you wish you could go tramping with a Dad like that and
the first thing I knew--before I realized it--he had me telling him
what success I was having at berry picking.

After I'd described my methods and told him how hard I worked, he said,
“Son, now listen to me, for this applies to berry picking as well as
lots of other things--when you go into a berry patch, you'll find lots
of boys running here and there looking for bushes where the berries
grow the thickest. After picking a few minutes they get the idea that
a bush a little farther down offers greater possibilities and they run
over to it and keep on repeating the performance all day long. When
night comes, they are tired out from their exertions and strange to
say, they haven't many berries in their pails either. Now the way to
do--when you go into a berry patch, stop at the first bush you come to
and don't leave it until you've picked every berry--don't run aimlessly
from one bush to another, but do as I say and when night comes you'll
find you not only will have a full pail many times over, but you will
not be so tired, because you haven't expended that energy of yours
running around so much. In other words, “stick to your bush, son, stick
to your bush.”

That's all there is to the story, Red. Suffice to say I took the old
boy's advice and sure enough it paid dividends. Now the same thing
applies to selling goods. It's human nature for youth especially, to
chase rainbows and follow what seems to be the easiest way. When you
get out of the bus in a small town, which has four big prospects that
you know you can sell right along in a row on Main Street, it's quite
natural to go sell 'em and then go to the depot and catch the first
train out, but, Red--how about those three little stores way down the
other side of the feather factory, about four blocks from the round
house? Who is going to sell them? Their credit is good and they'll
buy your goods if they get a chance. Of course, I know the argument
that the little red devil who sits on your shoulder whispers in your
ear--it goes something like this, “I just haven't time; I'd miss that
train out; I'll pick the good ones and leave the little ones for my
competitor--he has to live, etc.” and a thousand such logical (?)
arguments, but listen Boy--you know and I know that the fellow who
listens to those arguments is only kidding himself.

Did you ever sit down Red and analyze a day's work with one of your
salesmen? Figure out just how many hours each day he actually spends
face to face with a buyer? If you never have, it will surprise you
both. Of course, I realize some time must be spent going from store to
store, and from town to town, but regardless of that Red, the time you
spend facing the buyer is, after all, the only time in the day that
is really “productive time”--the balance is “non-productive” and in
addition, it's expensive because you cannot make it up--it's gone.

The thinking Sales Manager and Salesman today cannot fail to recognize
this, because the man who spends the most hours actually picking
berries, gets paid more than the fellow who spends half his time
between bushes.

Give my very best to 'em the next time you have them in for a meeting
and tell them for me that in selling goods this year, I'd rather be a
setter pup that stalks the game, than a humming bird that just dips its
nose into what appears to be the sweetest roses.

                                        Your loving,

_The Boy Is Given an Unfailing Formula for Landing a Bigger Job_

Dear Hal:

I just put down the evening paper and came very nearly dropping off to
sleep when your mother reminded me that I'd better answer your last
letter tonight while I had the time and there was no company around.

I think I enjoyed your last letter more than any you've written
recently, largely because it breathed a better spirit of optimism over
general business conditions and your job in particular and I must say
that it was the first letter you have sent me lately in which you were
not “crabbing” about something or other.

I'm glad to see those symptoms. For the life of me I cannot see why a
big, red-headed galoot like you, with a good job, a superior line of
merchandise and a world of possibilities before you would find time
to do anything else but figure out ways and means of capitalizing
your opportunities to the fullest extent and I really believe you are
“rounding to” and if so--if the signs don't fail me--you're just now
putting yourself into a correct mental attitude to commence to really

You know, Red, the only real place in life for a “crab” is in the
bottom of the restless ocean. Of course, I know they occasionally get
out of that sphere, but when they do they generally get gobbled up by
some quicker thinking member of either the fish or the human family,
so there's really no credit to be gained by trying to pattern after an
imitation devil-fish.

I've done a good deal of thinking about that snappy looking bunch of
salesmen you've gathered around you, as I mentioned in my last letter,
and I've been wondering if you're going to turn out to be a good
“picker” of men, or if you just happened to bump up against a kind
Providence. I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and believe
that you selected them carefully, with an eye to the future, but your
responsibility has only begun now that you've separated the wheat from
the chaff.

Next to trying to build a Ziegfeld chorus with a bunch of knock-kneed
runners-up in a cafeteria, I don't know any harder job than trying to
make business men and executives out of a bunch of potential baseball
fans, pool sharks and dance hounds, but someone has to do it and it's
not a colossal task, Boy, if you approach it with the proper amount of
tolerance and patience.

Not so long ago, it was my privilege to accidentally meet the directing
head of one of the largest industries in this country. As we chatted
over our cigars, I inquired to what single thing he attributed the
success of his company. He replied quickly, “The exceptional personnel
of our organization.” Being in an inquisitive mood and finding him a
willing--yes--an enthusiastic talker regarding his company, I further
inquired the method in training men for higher and more responsible
positions in his company. He replied, “Our organization some years back
got away from the prehistoric idea that the secrets of each job should
be locked in the heart of the man holding it.

“You know, in olden times, men were afraid to teach subordinates for
fear they would become so proficient that they would crowd out the
one holding the good job. The constant and ever-increasing demand for
men qualified to hold the highest positions has generated a feverish
anxiety and ambition to train men to take the place of his immediate
superior, so that practically every man, from the office boy to the
president, is competing with each other to turn out the most and
highest caliber experts and executives.”

Waxing reminiscent, this great man related how one man in their
organization, whose hair was now silvered by many winters, was the
“daddy” over a hundred of the bigger men of the company--the man who
chose and had trained over a hundred men to be capable of assuming
the greater responsibilities of a great industry! Naturally enough
our smoking-car conversation carried us to the discussion of just
what was the measure of success in the business world and I think
you can appreciate that I was not at all surprised to hear this
man--this great captain of industry, whose very name in the business
world was synonymous with great accomplishments--say with no little
show of feeling, “If, when I pass out of active business life, it
can truthfully be said of me that I was a builder of men, I crave no
greater epitaph.”

Red, that man spake a sermon in one sentence! Boy, the pyramids of
Egypt have already been built; man in his wisdom has built skyscrapers,
bridged rivers and spanned plains, yet the greatest work of the
artisan, the noblest piece of sculpture and the most magnificent
monument of the ages is in your hands for fashioning. The organization
that you have the honor to be a part of is a breathing, living thing.

If the men who serve under your direction, Red, are not allowed to
grow--if their ambition is not aroused to a point where they fit
themselves with your help to take your job, or jobs like it, you
cannot hope to gain promotion. Leaving out the personal side of it, if
yourself and men in similar positions accept your present positions
with smug satisfaction and take no part in an effort to be constantly
building, the foundation of your house will surely crumble as dry rot
and decay sets in and your temple will some day fall upon your head.

And Red, don't be selfish to the point of being afraid of personal
handicaps that you might impose on yourself. Your company needs trained
branch house managers, district managers, sales managers and other
executives. If they choose your right-hand man and leave a hole in your
organization, don't grouch about it--don't complain about their having
broken up your organization--Good Lord, Boy, what higher compliment
could they pay you than to thus acknowledge that they consider you
a builder of men? Just start in and train another, for the day you
can honestly walk in and tell the Boss that you've trained a man who
can fill your place better than you can, he will not waste much time
finding a bigger and better job for you, Red.

While I think you're too young to really appreciate the pride one feels
in the successes of their own children, you can take it from me it's
some feeling and I don't know anything in this world that's so closely
akin to it as the satisfaction and genuine pleasure one derives in
watching the successes of those men whom you have personally coached in
their earlier successes.

Think it over Boy! The duty you owe to your company, or the world at
large, isn't at all performed when you have merely achieved personal
success--why bless your heart, one graduate from Red's school is worth
more to the company than a single sale of the entire output of their
largest cannery.

Fate has entrusted to your keeping as likely looking a bunch of
youngsters as I've seen in many a day. What are YOU going to do with
'em old Red Top? Are you going to be satisfied with just making good
salesmen out of them--are you short-sighted enough to think that's all
that's expected of you?

Mother and I were discussing these things the other night and she
gradually led me out over my head in the argument. She always goes way
back before my time and she did when she said that God made the first
man out of a bunch of clay. The only comeback I could think of was,
“Gee, what an inspiration that ought to be to Red, considering how much
better material he has to work with.”

                                        Your loving,

_Hal Is District Manager Now--His Problem Is Winning the Respect of Men_

Dear Hal:

Jim Baker came by the house a few minutes ago and showed me a copy of
last week's bulletin in which was the announcement of your promotion to
the position of District Manager. Your letter of a few days ago didn't
say anything about it, although you must have known at the time. Guess
you wanted to surprise your old Dad, eh--what? But you didn't surprise
me much after all, for I've been expecting something like that to
happen to you for a long time.

Well--Boy--Howdy! I know you're proud of the promotion and I'm sure
proud too, but I'm not going to do much back slapping for two reasons.
In the first place, it makes your arm tired and the second place, it
will not help you a bit to fill a District Manager's shoes. The very
fact that you didn't wire me right after the job was given you is a
good sign. I'm giving you credit at least for inherited modesty and if
I am right in my diagnosis, I'm more proud still for I never knew a big
man in my life who wasn't personally modest and I'm happier than I can
tell you to think that at the outset you are exhibiting the ear marks
of the man I'm hoping you are.

No doubt you are full of plans of what you are going to do in the new
work and probably don't need any advice from me, but I know that by
this time you realize that it's the old man's prerogative to make a few
comments in each letter, so I'm not worrying a bit about whether you
want them or not.

The position of District Manager is a big one--a whole lot bigger
than some think. It's one of those jobs that a fellow can make just
about as big as he wants to and, on the other hand, it furnishes an
opportunity for a fellow to make about as big a jackass of himself as
the proverbial Missouri mule, if you don't watch your step.

In the first place, I hope you haven't acquired the idea that the place
was given you because you were the best branch house manager on the
force; the seventh son of a seventh son or because they thought you
were too big for a branch house manager. Of course, I don't know how
they arrived at their conclusion, but if I were you I think I'd figure
that probably they were pretty short of District Manager material and
just decided to try you out on the job for a few months to see how
you'd work out.

Don't get the idea that I'm trying to make light of your ability--far
from it. The only reason I'm advising you that way is, I believe
that thought on your part would make for a more healthy condition
and provide more of an incentive. At any rate, the officials of your
company, to all practical purposes, are “from Missouri” and you'll
do well not to kid yourself into thinking you have been especially
ordained a modern Moses to lead the children of Israel out of the

Of course, I know you don't think so, but I want to impress upon you
that your new job is no sinecure. Unless you have a perverted sense
of what is expected of you, you'll find that your previous positions
were child's play in comparison. You have taken upon yourself a world
of responsibility that must not be discounted. While you may believe
yourself to be popular with the organization under your jurisdiction,
it's a hundred-to-one shot that--especially at first--you'll be
about as popular as the village drunkard at a Sunday School Picnic.
Your managers might have liked you as a brother manager, but it's
only natural that they'll accept you only on suspicion until you've
demonstrated to them that you're a rudder on the boat instead of a

That's your first and biggest job, old Red Top, and if you're smart
you'll realize that although the title may carry some prestige, the
most important commodity you have to sell at first is--Red. Be sure
to differentiate between the class of men you have been directing
and those now under your jurisdiction. Although your managers were
once salesmen--they're managers now. Big, broad, clear-thinking,
hard-hitting business men. You cannot succeed without their respect and
you haven't got that to start with, because you've yet to demonstrate.
You cannot buy respect of these men with fancy dinners, too much
dignity, funny stories or “old maid” tactics. Your authority of title
or position don't mean anything to them. You must be first a “he-man,”
the happy medium between a “yes-ser” and a chronic debater, an exponent
and amplifier of your company's policies, a happy mixture of hard work,
tolerance, constructive suggestion and leadership.

Don't hold that respect to be attained lightly--worry about it! If
there's a single manager that will not co-operate and the others do, it
would look as though it were his fault--not yours, but if six out of
the ten are luke-warm after you've been on the job a while, that's a
condition and looks like your fault and is plenty big enough to worry
about. After you've burned the midnight oil long enough on either of
the two cases, you'll probably come to the conclusion that you will
sell yourself to that one man, or get rid of him, because a balky
manager--a man not in step with the aims of the company--the fellow
who doesn't believe in the policies and methods one hundred per cent,
is like a rotten apple in a barrel of good ones--if you leave it there
long enough, it will have the whole barrel on the garbage wagon. But in
the case of the six out of ten who are not working right, it should be
obvious that it's another case of “they were all out of step but Jim”
so you'd better take yourself off to one side, hold a few star chamber
sessions and operate on Red. You're the point of contact, Boy, between
the officers and directors and the sales organization.

During the war you heard a lot about morale, and morale is nothing
more-or-less than mental attitude--point of view. Yet, morale has
overthrown dynasties, won battles and brought success out of failure.
The sales battle of your company will not be won unless it is
ever-apparent in the salesmen--the salesmen cannot be expected to have
it unless their managers believe, with an infinite faith, in the aims,
policies and personnel of your institution and those managers cannot
be expected to have it unless their point of contact with the dynamos
in the power house are capable of carrying the proper voltage with an
unbroken current, rather than be merely a broken live-wire that can
only sputter, fuss and shock those with whom it comes in contact.

Boy, this has been a rambling letter and I hope the things I've told
you will prove entirely unnecessary, but you're just now embarking
on an uncharted sea. You'll no doubt run into breakers, squalls and
stormy weather, yet, there is bound to be clear sailing ahead of you
if you'll be ever alert to stay off the rocks of conceit, leisure and

                                        Your loving,

P.S.--Am sending you that hat you won on the election bet. You'll note
that it's the same size as the last one I bought you.

_Dad Drops in on a Branch Manager and Finds the Spirit of the Time_

Dear Hal:

I've been reading a great deal recently in the newspapers and
magazines, particularly in articles relating to sales problems, about
the new order of things with respect to this year rewarding only
fighters. In addition to what you say in your letters about your own
company's activities, the bulletins and circular letters you have
sent me, it seems that every sales talk I listen to, or read, bears
down particularly on that very apparent change that has come about
in all business in recognizing changed conditions and cutting your
expense-cloth according to your result-pattern.

You know, you sent me a copy of a letter not long ago written by the
Big Boss himself, in which he said that they did not contemplate
reducing their man power, but he said he expected you to do away with
all incompetents; have one good man do the work of two mediocre ones
and he intimated in no uncertain terms that your company had no use for
drones around its bee-hive.

I have been just a little mite curious to get around and see just how
literally your organization was taking the instructions so I welcomed
the chance that presented itself last week when some business took me
out of town for a few days. I happened in a town, Red, in which your
company had a branch house (not in your territory, Boy, although I
wished it were). This was what might be called a baby-branch, in that
it has been in operation only a few months. Not having much to do, I
dropped around to chat with the manager. The thing that first impressed
me was that although it was before eight A. M. they were on the job and
working. The next thing I noticed was that they didn't have any surplus
office furniture to loll around in. In fact, after I introduced myself
and indicated that I was going to stay a few minutes anyway, they had
quite a time finding something for me to sit on.

A funny coincidence was, the manager was red-headed and sitting across
the desk from him was a red-headed youngster who reminded me a good
deal of you when you were his age. As I sat there chatting with the
manager, I just couldn't keep my eyes off that boy. Evidently he was
office manager, voucher clerk, cashier, chief clerk and everything in
the office except the stenographer. The stenographer, by-the-way, was a
young man about the same age as the red-head who wasn't bothered about
having to powder his nose, fix his back hair, or go to the rest room
every twenty minutes like some female stenographers I've heard of.

Both of these chaps were neatly dressed and a credit in appearance to
the office. About nine o'clock Red (I'll just have to call him that)
said to the stenographer “Come on, Boy, let's go” and both of them got
up from their desks and went out the door. I didn't think much of that
until a few minutes later I heard the clanking of chains and squeaking
of pulleys and looking out I saw Red and the stenographer--now dressed
in overalls and jumpers--out bringing stock down from the third floor
to the shipping floor by means of a chain and pulley.

I questioned the manager and he said their business there so far was
small and his entire force was himself and those two boys. It was, of
course, obvious that had he a combination warehouseman and shipping
clerk he couldn't be kept busy but about half the time, so the work
must therefore be done by his present force. I watched those fellows
while they brought down some hundred or more cases, stenciled them,
piled them neatly on the sidewalk in front awaiting the transfer
wagons. When finished they came back in the office, picked up their
office work where they left off and went to it. I was so interested
in that combination that I made it convenient to stay around there
all day--I was afraid there was a joker in it some place and I wanted
to see. When the transfer man came Red went out and helped load the
goods onto the wagon. He wasn't very big physically--just a boy I tell
you--but you should see him get a toe-hold on those pickle barrels.
Why, Strangler Lewis never had a thing on him in his palmiest days--and
smile--Red--why doggone it he was actually happy in that job and took
just as much interest in his work as if he owned the place.

In talking with the manager he got to explaining the different routes
of his salesmen and I noticed on the map that there were several large
towns that his salesmen didn't touch. When I asked him specifically
about them, he told me he worked them himself and he gave me to
understand that he wasn't one of those chair-warming “directors of
sales” but a real, red-blooded, hard-hitting he-manager--one who sent
in orders in the same mail with his expense account. It was very
apparent that in addition to working the trade he also found time to
direct his salesmen, answer his correspondence and be all that a branch
manager should be.

Red, I walked out of that branch and down the street and do you know
what I was thinking of? Well, I'll tell you--do you remember that
grand old patriotic picture of the drummer, the fifer and the color
bearer, tattered, wounded and bandaged, but with set jaws, courage
and determination fairly bristling from them--that picture's called,
“The Spirit of '76”? Well, Boy, I couldn't help but think of the
similarity of the spirit portrayed in the picture and that evidenced by
that two-fisted, working manager with his two combination office-men,
stenographer, shipping clerk, and warehouseman.

Now, of course, I suppose you've got men working for you who would
say, if you told them about this occurrence, that they thought it
was beneath a man's dignity to do the things those fellows did and
perhaps they're right in it too, as applied to some places and some
conditions. I know all of your managers cannot spend seventy-five per
cent of their time out getting orders; I know that office managers,
clerks and stenographers cannot be shipping clerks and warehousemen
in addition to their other duties, but the big thought I want to get
across to you Red, is that here was a place where it not only could be
done, but necessary that it should be done if that baby-branch was to
get a foot-hold and live, and the beautiful part about it all was, it
was done, cheerfully, happily and with a determination to win just like
the spirit that was in the minds and hearts of those grand old boys at
Valley Forge.

You know, one of the chief duties of a district manager is to be
continually on the lookout for good timber--a sort of a scout for the
Big League as 'twere. All I have to say is--keep your eye on that

                                        Your loving,

P. S.--I'll bet you a new brown derby that red-headed kid will not be
pushing pencils and juggling pickle barrels all his life.

_The Boy Gets a Chance to See Himself as Others See Him_

Dear Hal:

Mother and I have been sitting out in the porch swing all evening
watching the neighborhood youngsters play ball in the street. In the
bunch was one red-headed boy, who, of course, reminded me a little
of you when you were his age and it was only natural that I got to
musing a little over your experiences and problems and I couldn't help
wondering just what kind of ball you were now playing.

After the last youngster had heeded the paternal whistle and laid aside
his ball and glove for the night, the shouts died down, the street
became quiet and Mother and I sat out there in the twilight talking
of you--your good points and bad points--your fads, fancies and pet
peeves. We fell to discussing your qualifications for this job of
district manager that you have had now for some time and wondering if
you were finding it possible to control that bombastic, nitro glycerin,
TNT disposition of yours, in the face of trying circumstances that I
know you have to face daily.

I don't know that I ever told you, but I have had the privilege of
knowing and studying different district managers--not in your concern,
but in other lines where the problems are somewhat similar. I was
telling Mother about some of the species I had met up with in my
time and durned if she didn't spring a couple of quotations from the
Scriptures (just like Mother, isn't it?) that seemed to fit my line
of musing so well that I just thought I'd use 'em for a basis--a sort
of Golden Text as 'twere and come in and write you a letter before I
forgot what I wanted to say.

The particular district manager I was telling her about at the time,
was a fellow whom I was pretty well acquainted with in the old days. He
was a bright fellow, one who knew his game about as well as any I ever
met and those in power in his company had every reason to expect him
to make a big success. He was a good salesman--had more than ordinary
knowledge of the fine points of the manufacturing end, had had a broad
experience and was a keen analyst.

This man was a likeable chap and had taken more than a correspondence
course in diplomacy and tact, so there wasn't anything on the surface
that would indicate other than smooth sailing in his job, but the boys
on the road who ran onto him frequently, soon began to intimate to
their confidants that he wasn't making such a success as it was thought
he would.

One day I got hung up on a big deal where I had to wait over a couple
of days before I could get the signature on the dotted line and I
accidentally met this chap in the dining room of the hotel one morning.
After he found out I had a little time to kill he asked me if I
wouldn't like to go with him to call on one of the branches under his
jurisdiction. I guess it was curiosity more than anything else that
prompted my acceptance of his invitation, but anyway, we went over to
the branch in that city and all I had to do was to sit over in a corner
of the private office, read a newspaper--or rather pretend to--and
watch the wheels go 'round.

The first thing I noticed was a sort of new dignity that he assumed
the minute we walked into the office--pleasant enough and smiling as
he saluted the manager and clerks, but you know Red, one of those
“holier-than-thou” atmospheres seemed to creep into the room like a
Lake Michigan fog in late October. Not being familiar with the fine
points of the business I wasn't able to get much from the various
conversations that I overheard during the day, but I particularly
noticed that every once in a while the manager would relate some
particularly good thing that had come to pass and invariably the
district manager would lean back and say, “Sure, I'm responsible for
that!” or “Didn't I tell you how to do that?” or some such comment.
Whenever those remarks were made I noticed particularly that the
manager's face would sort of lengthen and he apparently bit his lip a
time or two, as I surmised, to keep from telling the D. M. that he too
should share in the glory.

Several times during the day while the district manager and manager
were discussing some problem, various clerks and stenographers would
come in for a decision, or deliver some verbal message and it was
noticeable beyond mistake that the district manager always answered
the question, or handed down the decision, regardless of the fact
that the manager was the one usually addressed. Later on in the day
in discussing some situations they did not always agree on all points
and mild, but healthy, argument arose. In such cases, the district
manager invariably raised his voice to a high pitch, to all appearances
lost his temper and in effect, brow-beat and bulldozed the poor little
manager into an eventual agreement on the point in question.

When we got ready to leave, I know it was more than imagination when
I noticed the look of tired relief that came into the eyes of the
manager and I couldn't help but feel a deep sympathy for him, because
instead of receiving helpful suggestions and counsel, encouragement
and intelligent, collaborated analysis, he had only been subjected to
ill-concealed egotism and arrogance, had been belittled in the eyes of
his subordinates and shouted at like a coolie-laborer on a steamship

When I came to this place in my narrative, Mother just gazed out over
the chimney tops of the homes across the street into the canopy of
stars that twinkle over you tonight, the same as they twinkle over
us and said, “Well, Red will never be that kind of district manager,
because he'll remember that part of the Scriptures that says, “He that
exalteth himself shall be abased, but he that humbleth himself shall be
exalted” and again in Proverbs where it says, “A soft answer turneth
away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.”

I didn't have any comeback, Red; I hope Mother's right (she usually
is) and I'm not laying any odds on whether you remember the Biblical
quotations, but I am willing to vote with her on your being smart
enough to keep from assuming that cheap variety of dignity that only
looks good on an undertaker; that faculty of self-effacement when
it means the strengthening of another's position in the eyes of his
subordinates and having the breeding to speak with firmness, but in a
low voice, that can only make for respect and withal, a love--if you
please--in the hearts of your fellow-workers that is more priceless
than empty-sounding titles, fame, or five figures on the salary check.

                                        Your loving,

_Dad Tips Off the Boy to a New Job_

Dear Hal:

I got a letter the other day from an optimistic friend of mine out
in the short grass country, where the principal industry is cattle
raising. He admitted that, like all other business his particular line
had gone through its depression, but I couldn't help but be impressed
with his cheerfulness. Among other things, he told me that they had
experienced an awful dry spell out his way, but that the cattle
business wasn't so bad after all. He seemed to be full of pity for the
poor hog raiser, for he said that it had been so dry that the natives
had to soak up their hogs by turning water on them before they could
get them to hold slop.

Somehow this set me to thinking about your business and having a
little spare time on my hands I thought I'd drop down to the main
office of your company to renew old acquaintances and to listen to the
gossip. When I got down there, the first thing that impressed me was
the pruning that had been going on in the office force. I didn't see
any strange faces to speak of on my visit, but I noticed the absence
of a good many whose duties during the war period were no doubt
dignified by the title of First and Second Pencil Sharpener and Envoy
Extraordinary to His Flipness, the Office Boy, and other strange and
sundry nonessentials that crept into all offices during the period of
commercial hysteria that we have been recovering from in the last year.

Everybody had their coats off and were working under high pressure and
I had considerable difficulty getting anyone to talk to me. I suppose
it was out of respect for the fact that I have a red-headed son on
the payroll, that finally got an audience for me with the Boss and we
had a very pleasant chat. He told me that business was much better
than it had been and took me down past the order desk where the old
time activity was beginning to show again. He always takes me into his
confidence in illustrating his points and I was particularly impressed
by some of the letters from salesman managers that were coming in.

It was really amusing to a fellow like me, Red, who has been out of
touch with the present situation to quite an extent, particularly
his illustrations of the mental attitude of different managers. The
majority of letters he showed me were written in an enthusiastic,
optimistic tone and recited the strengthening of the market on certain
items and were accompanied by contracts for futures, as well as a spot
business, while some few were evidently written by managers who didn't
know that the wholesale grocers had taken their last fall sugar losses
and were still devoting their time to thinking up fancy alibis for poor

After so long a time, we got to talking about you Red, and I suppose
he just wanted to tickle an old man's parental pride, but anyway he
said some nice things about the way you were getting along. He told me
something in confidence that I'm going to tip off to you, although he
said you didn't know yet, but am sure he will not mind my telling you.
He said that the first of next month you were to be brought into the
Chicago office as one of his product sales managers. Just about that
time he was called into a meeting and had to tell me good-bye hurriedly
and as a result, I didn't get to find out just what job it was, or
whether it was permanent, or just a tryout for you, but anyway, I went
home walking on air for, regardless of what it is or whether or not it
is a promotion, it certainly will be a change of base for you and will
add to your already diversified experience.

Now Red, I've spent a lot of time in my life watching the antics
(yes--I say that advisedly) of some of these product sales managers
and there are several things I want to warn you of before you tackle
the job. In the first place, the biggest mistake you could make would
be to get the impression that all you had to do was to “direct” the
efforts of the organization on the particular items you were following.
Of course, you'll have some of that, but if you think you will only
have to dictate to a good looking stenographer, you're as mistaken
as a republican candidate for alderman in the first ward. And again,
if on account of your army experience you imagine you're going to
be top sergeant for the general sales manager and let him carry the
responsibility you'd better stick pins in your chair and come out of it.

The only excuse for having a product sales manager is that the
particular product in question will have a “daddy” in the main office,
instead of having to be nurtured a la incubator and grow up like Topsy.
Don't think for a minute that the general sales manager is going to
do the thinking for you, or lay down a set of instructions for you to
follow out. I take it that you're getting more than twelve dollars
a week now and if so, they expect you to be “creative” and use that
torch-thatched swelling on top of your shoulders for something else
beside a hat-rack.

Now get this clear to start with--everything the company manufactures
in your line is YOUR product. Yours to sell--it doesn't belong to the
factory, the branch house, the jobber, the retailer or the consumer.
It's YOURS--the weight of responsibility is on your shoulders from the
time it comes out of the retort until the can is peacefully reposing
on the breeze-swept side of the hillock in the city dumping-ground. If
you think you can sit down and dictate a “pep” letter to managers and
salesmen, wave your arms and plant Old Glory rhetorically in the azure
blue of the heavens until some temperamental manager becomes so moved
by your chin music that he orders a carload--if you think you have
then accomplished something worth crowing over, you better go back to
calling on the retail trade. Those goods are yours, Red--you've only
then started them in the channel of distribution and the REAL WORK for
your think-tank has only commenced. You must think up schemes--selling
plans--watch stocks and keep them moving--give advice and counsel to
your managers--in a word, you must be the dynamo that generates the
sell-juice and believe me, it's your job to see there are no broken

There are a lot of things about a product sales manager's job that can
be well or poorly done, but I cannot begin to comment on all of them in
this letter. Am sorry I didn't get to talk just a few minutes longer
to your Boss, for I'm curious to know whether they thought you were so
all-fired good at your other job that they gave you this, or whether
somebody just left the gate open and you sneaked in.

I haven't told your mother about this yet, so I suggest that you write
her a letter and just mention it casual-like. After I get her comments
I'll write you some more of my observations, which I imagine you relish
about as much as salt in your ice cream.

                                        Your loving,

_Dad Gets a Lesson from a Trip to the Farm_

Dear Hal:

Every year about this time I get a sort of hankerin' for yellow-legged
chicken and striped gravy--you know, Red--not the kind you see on the
bill-of-fare in the cafes which they jokingly term “spring” chicken,
without going on record as to just what spring; not the kind that's
cooked all in one piece and tastes like the pet chicken that Grover
Cleveland raised when he was in the White House; but rather that
old-fashioned, unjointed, juicy, tender, fried-brown country chicken
that you're sure first saw the light of day about May 1st, this year.

Well, anyway, Mother and I piled into the old gas buggy last Sunday
and went out in the country just in order to satisfy that craving. You
know, Red, I never had a particularly strong leaning toward the farm or
anything that goes with it, with the exception of an occasional visit
made with the sole intent of just gorging myself on the good things to
eat that the farmer always seems to find right handy without having to
haggle with the grocer over the price. Not that I thought I was better
than the farmer--not that I didn't appreciate that he was the backbone
of the nation, and this and that and this and that, but somehow or
other I just never did fall for those poetic rhapsodies and popular
songs that usually tell in a high falsetto how dear the old meadow and
pigpen were to the heart of a prodigal son. You know I always had the
secret hunch that all of that patter was mostly bunk and was written
only for commercial purpose to be sold to and raved over by some
little mouse of a shop-girl that was trying to carve out a career as a
counter-jumper in a department-store basement or by some lonesome hick
that had come into the city expecting to conquer it and Cook County in
three months and was having trouble to rustle shoes for himself on his
salary as a bus boy in a one-arm chair feed-bag oasis.

I have made the mistake of looking on the farm as a sort of necessary
evil where they just put the seed in the ground every spring and then
let nature do its worst and the reason I didn't wake up sooner was
because I'd been stopping too much at these near-farms where they
advertise chicken dinners for two dollars and have an electric piano
and a toddle parlor just back of the dining room.

On the way down to the place I was going, I drove up to a pretty likely
looking farm with a big red barn and went in. It was a fancy stock farm
and much to my surprise they had electric lights, radiators and an
electric fan over each stall. They had some blooded cows in there that
they milked four times a day--the attendants were all dressed in white
like barbers in a loop shop and the only thing that was missing was the
blonde manicurist. Even the pigs were washed and primped up and the
thing that struck me so funny was that the manager in his conversation
actually showed that by running it that way, it paid dividends on the
investment. To make a long story short, I went along on my journey
impressed with the fact that the fellow who ran that place wasn't just
indulging a fad or hobby but rather was making a success because of
brains and because he knew his business. That started me thinking and
when I arrived at the farm that had agreed to feed me for a day I was
viewing things in a new light.

When I stretched out on the cool back porch after a meal that can be
gotten only on a real farm--out there where the very sky seems to
come a little closer, where the traffic officer's whistle would be
sacrilegious and the smell of burning gasoline was only a memory--I
fell to talking business with my host. I found that I had this farmer
business all wrong. True, it was a hard life and a gamble with the
elements; true, the price of farm products had been taking a merry
toboggan; but I found a spirit of optimism--a studied forgetfulness
of the drab part of it--a highly scientific and intelligent working
out of a problem that formerly I had guessed was only happenstance. My
host had a reason for planting corn on the north eighty and oats on
the east quarter. The rations for his live stock were as carefully
planned as the contents of a baby's nursing bottle. In a word--he knew
his business and as a result these minor factors of price declines and
other annoyances were only an incident in the successful carrying out
of a well defined plan.

Naturally, Red, I got to thinking of you and your work and I wondered
if you were thoroughly impressed with the necessity of your knowing
your business as you have never known it before. I wondered if you
could tell the Boss if he asked you right quick the price your
competitor was getting for every one of the staple products in your
line. I wondered if you had a good knowledge of which branches had too
big a stock of certain items and just what you were really doing to
change that situation. I wondered if you considered your slow stock
report--your Bible--and the thing to really worry over. I wondered
if you knew how much the plants had of your product--just how it was
moving and just when you should recommend a packing order, and then if
such recommendation were made whether it were based on it being the
time of the year when the raw material was the most reasonable.

I wondered if you appreciated that the successful marketing of your own
product rested largely on your shoulders--yours for the planting--yours
to generate enthusiasm over--yours to be posted on as no one else in
the organization.

Coming home that night I was telling Mother of the lessons that the day
had taught. I asked her if she thought that even you might not glean a
lesson from the farmer. It was funny, Red, to hear her. I don't know
why except that to her, like all mothers, you're still just her baby
boy--either that, or else you've been practicing your salesmanship on
her, for she thinks that you're 'way ahead of me on the things I've
been wondering about you. She actually believes that you could take the
man that first packed food in cans and teach him something. Of course
I didn't argue with her because I never won an argument with Mother,
but I just made up my mind that I'd drop you a little note and tell you
that if you didn't put the old one-two on the jaw of that problem of
yours by being the best posted man on your line in the whole office,
that it was going to make a serious dent in the confidence of

                                        Your loving,

P. S. The only pessimist I found on the farm, Red, was a bull-frog that
croaked at night in the creek. He reminded me of a certain type of
salesman--he didn't sell anybody anything.

_Dad Takes an Interest in the Boy's Big Sales Contest_

Dear Hal:

Since you have been sending me copies of all the circulars and
bulletins gotten out by the General Sales department, as well as your
own department, I have been kept pretty well informed as to what your
firm was doing and planning to do and I don't mind telling you that I'm
as interested as a kid on December twenty-third, in this latest stunt
you're pulling--this national convention of leader salesmen campaign.

There are several inferences that I draw from the literature that's
been put out on it so far and I think I see some angles to it that may
have escaped you and I figure you might be interested in just how this
all looks to an innocent bystander such as myself, so I'm going to
exercise my prerogative of commenting copiously, as 'twere.

Before you get ready to tell me to keep my comments to myself, I want
to tell you about an introduction I once had to a brother knight of the
grip. It was in my early days of order-teasing that I met up with a
prune peddler on my territory by the name of George Shifflett. George
was one of those typical grocery salesmen of the old school. Happy,
well formed, jovial, a hale fellow well met, fairly radiating good
fellowship and, at the same time, a salesman plus. I was called in to
a strange city, and before going I told George about it and mentioned
that time would perhaps hang rather heavily on my hands. George sat
down and wrote a little note of introduction to a friend of his, whom
he said would give me an entree to anything and everything in that
town. Although the letter was not sealed, I didn't think to read it,
but as soon as I arrived I hunted up George's friend and presented my

His friend was also a peddler of the George type. He immediately opened
up the letter and this is what it said: “This is my friend--treat him
kindly and often.” Just how well George's friend obeyed this admonition
is neither here nor there, and there's no use rubbing it in by
referring to the customs of ancient times, suffice to say that the only
point in the story in connection with my relations with you is that
in the comments I am continually making on your business, I am merely
trying to treat you “Kindly and often”--not in the way George's friend
treated me, but I hope in a more beneficial and less bibulous manner.

But, to get down to this leader salesmen campaign--I naturally begin
first to look for holes in such a plan, having gone through a good many
campaigns myself, but for the life of me I cannot find any in your
plan. It's about the finest thing I've ever seen. You know the trouble
with most national campaigns is that you have one house, or one bunch
of salesmen, competing with another on a product on which the selling
conditions vary greatly, one part of the country with another. But, in
this one the salesmen merely compete with the salesmen at the local
branch, in an effort to determine just what man in each class is the
better salesman on a fairly wide line of products. I cannot think of
anything that would create more rivalry among your salesmen than your
plans, for the convention program that is laid out is both recreative
and educational and the big point that I'm sure will not be overlooked
by the men is the opportunity it affords the winners to become better
and more personally acquainted with the men who direct their movements
and destinies.

You know, when I used to be a salesman I looked on the Chicago office
as being only just a little lower than the pearly gates--almost as
unattainable and a place that could only be reached in the way of a
visit by the manager and an occasional special salesman. I wondered how
I could ever be picked for a better job when the fellows who do the
picking had never seen me. It took me quite a while to break into that
holy of holies, and as I look back at it now, it seems I must have had
a lucky star for I finally got in, but I had to wait a good many years
and I didn't have the opportunity to win an introduction such as is
planned for the winning leader salesmen in your campaign.

Now Red, listen to me--the success of this campaign doesn't depend
entirely on the amount of enthusiasm that your department sales manager
and the branch house managers generate. Not at all--they'll have the
enthusiasm in sufficient quantity all right--just leave that to the
managers and salesmen.

This campaign will be won by one thing--plans--Red, that's the
word--plans. No salesman is going to kid himself into winning this
campaign. The fellow who wins will be the chap who first realizes that
there has been a change come over business in the last few weeks.
He'll have a good idea of just who he's gunning for and his list will
include every merchant that has hinges on his door. He'll have samples
and selling arguments on each of the campaign items and he'll not make
the mistake of underestimating the amount of goods that it's possible
to sell each customer. Last, but not least, for the full length of the
campaign he'll be up in the morning before the proverbial rooster has a
chance to crow, and like the sign in the drug store window, he'll “work
while you sleep.”

Red, it's your job to lead. Are you giving those boys the suggestions
and selling arguments that it's your place to supply? You know the
finest compliment that can be paid you at the convention is to have
not one, but several of those snappy winners slide up to you and tell
you just how much help you really gave in those plans.

Now, don't give me the “busy signal.” Of course, you're busy--why
shouldn't you be, but listen Red--this campaign is the most important
thing that your company is putting on this year--make it your first and
most important duty--lead 'em, Red, lead 'em!

You know, Boy, every time I think of your job and your problems, I'm
reminded of the difference between a real live salesman in a clothing
store and one of the wax dummies in the window of that same store. Both
are salesmen after a fashion, and the poor wax dummy that sits behind
the plate glass all day is doing his best and helping to sell goods in
a measure, but Red, you never bought a suit of clothes of one of 'em in
your life, now did you? No, you bet you didn't, but the boy with the
Elgin movement and the snappy sales argument, behind the counter teased
many an order away from you, now didn't he? All right--now the thought
I'd like to leave with you just before I take off my shoes and make a
midnight raid on the ice-box is:

That department sales manager chair that you're sitting in was never
intended for the outer casing of a mummy--shake 'em up, Red, and make
it snappy!

                                        Your loving,

_Dad Surrenders When the Boy Lands the Big Job_

Dear Hal:

For once in my life, I confess to you that I'm starting a letter that I
don't know how to write.

Mother and I just finished reading your telegram that announced you had
just been made general sales manager of your company. While it was not
so much of a surprise in one way--it has been a long while since you
received your last promotion and naturally we knew you would not be
satisfied until you had climbed even further up the ladder--still, I am
somehow differently impressed with this last elevation of yours than I
have with your previous steps.

I don't know how I could better illustrate my feeling than to say that
when you were a little fellow about ten I started in to give you what I
thought at the time was training in the fundamentals of the different
stages of boyhood. I can look back now and see where I used to hold
myself up to you as a sort of example. Yes, I'll admit now that I used
to paint the Old Man as being quite some fellow in his youth. While
you seemed impressed from year to year as the so-called schooling
progressed and were interested in my teachings, I realized finally when
your voice began to change and a peach-skin fuzz began to form on your
upper-lip that you weren't a little boy any more. Altho I recognized
your growth, not until your twenty-first birthday did I realize that
I must needs pursue a different plan, for lo--my once little lad had
suddenly grown to manhood and if you'll remember I ceased advising you
against the pitfalls that the boy must guard against and began talking
he-man language from then on.

Similarly, from the time you started as a salesman for your company,
until the present, I have taken a keen delight in listening--sometimes
with a good deal of patience, but withal a great relish--to your trials
and problems as they came to you along the same old road that I myself
had traveled and I kidded myself into thinking, at least, that probably
I was doing you some good by tearing pages from my experience in the
past and applying them to your problems, and I never realized until
just tonight that like the other experience, I had been so busy being
a pal of yours that momentarily your gradual growth had escaped me and
I must now look upon you in a new light--as being the equal, if not
the superior, in experience, knowledge and acumen of the Old Man who's
tried to tutor you along the way.

General sales manager--Well, Boy, Howdy! My hat is off to you, Red,
with a couple of Salaams! Needless to say, I knew you'd get there and
again, needless to say I know you'll fill the chair.

Just for tonight, Red, now listen--just for tonight I'm going to forget
momentarily your title and lapse into the old vein. After this, if you
insist, I'll call you Mister Red, or any other title you wish, but I
just cannot resist the temptation of still imagining you to be the same
old impetuous, impulsive, don't give-a-dam Redhead who used to put
wrinkles into my forehead, and I'm going to talk to you accordingly.

No, I never was a general sales manager, but I know all about how the
job should be run, just like Harry Sparks knows all about raising
babies--he never had any. Red, did you ever see that play, “If I Were
King”? No? Well, neither did I, but I imagine it's something like
the way I'm looking at this new job of yours. I can well imagine
your feelings, anyway--especially these first few days after your

I know you're leaning over backwards trying to act natural in this new
job of yours. Every fellow who comes up to wish you well you sort of
look over mentally and wonder if his good wishes have a real kick, or
if they're about one-half of one per cent. You are painfully aware that
there are those in the organization who think you have a horse-shoe in
your hip pocket, while others wonder just how you got that way. One
minute you wonder if you look and act so that no one could suspect a
swelling of your hat rest and the next moment you're wondering if the
Boss doesn't wonder if you're sufficiently dignified for the place.
All-in-all, Old Top, I'll bet you're in a peculiar state of mind and
will remain so until the odor of mothballs and the price tag wears off.

But, Red--forget it! You know they say that good prize-fighters, or
the best artists on the stage are those who are totally oblivious to
either boos or applause, and forget their audience in the intensity of
their art. You've been handed a real job this time and you should have
neither the time, nor inclination, to do other than put all your energy
and ability into it. Simply because it's a big job, don't think for
a minute that you will not continue to run afoul of some things that
will make that old red-headed temper of yours assert itself, but, Boy,
you'll have to handle it differently than in the old days.

You have heard how certain supposedly big men when irritated used to
chew up lead pencils, turn over the desk and go thru divers forms of
brainstorms, but no, Red--that's fiction--they're not doing it that way
this summer. Do you remember the illustration I gave you one time years
ago when you got all “het up” because a barber had made a positive
appointment with you when you were in a hurry to catch a train and then
broke it, so you had to let the old brush-pile stay on? Remember, I
told you never to get mad at a man who was below you in intelligence
and if that fellow had any intelligence he wouldn't have been a barber?
Well, Red, the old rule will work in the new job--always let the other
fellow do the getting-mad thing; when he does, he'll make a fool of
himself; if you get mad, too, you're getting down to his level.

Stick to the sales end, Red, as long as you're in it, at least. Don't
worry about how poorly the men in the other ends of the business handle
their duties. God in all his infinite wisdom has never yet produced a
genus homo who was capable of personally directing the manufacturing,
selling, advertising and executive ends of any one business. True,
the president of companies like yours does those things, but not
alone, Boy, not alone. He has a lot of high-class men like yourself
specializing and directing certain ends of it. Don't be too big,
however, to detect a good idea or suggestion from those in other ends
of the business. I once knew a great sales manager who got the best
sales lead of his experience from an office boy.

And, Red, be human--keep away from the clouds--keep your feet on
terra firma. From the time of the Man of Galilee who said, “Suffer
little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is
the kingdom of heaven,” great men of all ages and walks of life have
realized that true greatness was marked by humility. Have time, Boy,
to listen to the story of a problem solved that the junior clerk in
the department is just aching to tell you, and, Red, like the other
jobs you have held, be a leader. Now more than ever before must you, by
example and precept, be a real leader of those you captain.

Much of your success will depend upon those with whom you surround
yourself. Be ultra conservative in your selection. It may not have
occurred to you, but in choosing you for the big job those who had
your selection in their power observed pretty carefully whether or not
you had character. Character is the solid foundation of all success;
without it no great heights can be reached and kept.

Boy, I could go on indefinitely, but I must close. Even now, as the
realization of your present age and particularly your position strikes
me anew, I feel a sense of awe. I will not write you this way any
more--I'm done. Henceforth, my letters will be postscripts on the
bottom of Mother's and will only tell of my adventures chasing a
little white ball around a cow pasture. The mantle has fallen on your
broad and worthy shoulders--instead of my telling you what to do, I'm
resigned to have you give me the post-graduate course, for as Kipling

  “Tho I've belted you and flayed you,
  By the livin' Gawd that made you
  You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din.”

                                        Your loving,

_Transcriber's Notes_

A number of typographical errors have been corrected silently.

Irregularities in the salutations and signature blocks of the letters
have been normalized to a single form.

Words and phrases with different spacing or hyphenation have been
normalized into a single form.

Archaic spellings have been retained.

Variability in case of "boy" when used as a proper noun have been
standardized to upper.

Mismatched ending quotes for nested quotes have not been changed.

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