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MY STORY

The hardest sale I ever had to make was to the business development division of a defense contractor. The decision makers were all former military officers. Both they and the potential participants in my training classes were former pilots of fighter jets, cargo planes, and helicopters. At least 95 percent of the women in the organization were secretaries. As a rule, the women called the men "Mr.," and the men called the women by their first names. The vice president who interviewed me (a career naval officer) was flanked by an entourage. I was outnumbered ten to one.

I had done my homework, but it had only served to prove to me how much I didn't know. I had agonized about a way to make a connection. They had my bio, so they knew about my PhD and my experience (credibility through rank and expertise), and I was doing my best to look confident (sitting up very straight and speaking very calmly). However, I was not in the military, and I had never flown a plane in a war. Even worse, I had visited only one of the sixty-four countries where they marketed their products. So I told a story:


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