Friday, November 29, 2013

Keeping commitments

Our Yellow Pages Representative asked me to come and "say a few words" at the kick off of their annual canvas in the late '80s. Their meeting was on Monday, the day after our convention ended and after three days of meetings and talking, I was hoarse and tired. Monday morning I said to my wife, "I think I'll skip that Yellow Pages luncheon. I don't feel very well." Elizabeth said, "Now you promised Bill Dorrell you'd go, so you'd better go."

The luncheon was a huge event. When I arrived I was handed an engraved program and I was scheduled to speak between Gene Cernan, the Astronaut, and Ameritech's Chairman and CEO, Richard Notebaert. I had nothing prepared so I borrowed a 3 x 5 card from the registration desk and slipped into the restroom to make notes for my speech. Lee Holst, Ameritech's state manager, said it was the best speech I ever gave.

Fortunately, I knew quite a few Yellow Pages people, could personalize the remarks and they enjoyed that. Since Yellow Pages were in my department at work, I also knew a lot about that end of our business so it wasn't difficult to flatter my friends at Ameritech with numbers and statistics. It would have been embarrassing for my company and a disgrace if I had not gone. And I wouldn't have had the privilege of meeting Gene Cernan.

All of the top executives with Ameritech were there along with the Mayor of Indianapolis. I'll never forgive Bill for asking me to stop by and just "say a few words."

PS... This is the anniversary month of Lee Holst's passing in 2010. Hardly a day goes by that something doesn't remind me of him.