Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Rose By Any Other Name

There's a fine line between organic fertilizer and a big steaming turd, its all in the packaging.

Most sales professionals have honed a sense of "packaging" information in a way where it can be easily consumed by the target audience.

For example, instead of "you are going to have to upgrade all of your servers to run the new version" we will typically relay this information in a manner close to "with the power and robustness of the new release, its understandable that the hardware specs have been upgraded".

The old, bad joke goes a sales rep tried this in his relationships. Instead of "I'm having an affair with the secretary", he informed his wife that "he would no longer be making any more sexual demands of her" to which she replied "Thank you dear, that's very sweet".

"Jim" was one of our chief software gurus. I don't remember the pecking order of our developer food chain, but he was pretty high up there. "Pamela" was our head strong, hard charging, take-no-prisoners, SVP of Sales. From the moment they exited the respective wombs, it was written that these two would clash.

One thing I can say about Yankees, my affectionate term for anyone who lives North of Macon, Ga, is that they can party. Every time my Yankee-laden company would have a sales meeting the pattern was always the same; a lot of really boring, borderline unproductive meetings, followed by a great steak at some overpriced restaurant that at some point in its history made one of those lists than you see in airplane magazines, and booze, a lot of booze.

After dinner, as it was custom, our band of semi-intoxicated castaways, would find the nearest bar and spend the rest of the evening in our version of a team building exercises, aka, more booze and golden tee.

Earlier in the day, a long simmering feud among Pamela and Jim finally came to a head. There was shouting, screaming, and the slamming of doors, etc. Which, if you are dude, the worst thing you can ever do is that whole slam the door thing, very wussie-ish.

So some 10 hours later, we learned that the feud was not resolved, and that Pam and Jim were starting to ease back into their verbal boxing gloves. We were standing/sitting in a semi-circle and you could feel the tension.

As the first round of the rematch was set to begin, I was standing next to Jim when he burps. A little burp, nothing too loud. But his reply to the burp was an "oh boy, that's not good". You veterans know where this is going.

The next thing that happens, was one of those things that you can see in slow motion as it happens.

Pam was famous for her fashion sense. Love her, Hate her, the woman knows how to dress well. At the time, the over priced handbag of choice was about the size of a small Samsonite and Pam's was laying on the floor, wide open, like a receptacle.

Back to the slow motion thing, so Jim burps, realizes whats coming and stands up and in probably the most graceful of motions projects the contents of his stomach into the air in a fine rainbow arc. Visualize a water balloon rupturing in mid-flight, but only with puke, in a club. It seems to hang in the air forever, slowing wafting onto those who were unfortunate in their seating locations. Im not sure but I think the hit count topped seven.

For all of his brilliance, Jim was equally proud and humble and naturally was horribly embarrassed at his accident and made a quick retreat. In his haste however he failed to notice what gift that physics had brought.

The next morning, after discussing the evenings events with select members of our team, and receiving a little coaching, Jim's explanation of the evening to the curious masses went something close to this "Pam and I had a fight. She kept on disagreeing with me, so I puked in her purse. That's how the JDog rolls. End of story."

The curious masses were satisfied. Jim's "street cred" increased. And Pam had the opportunity to upgrade her "everyday" purse.

Its all in the packaging.

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