When I was a Tech-Industry Sales Rep, it was common for us to do an annual presentation for management showing the business we had identified for the following year. It gave them numbers to forecast for the stockholders and allowed all of us to make plans as to how we would pursue and obtain that business.
My last year at Data General had been rough. Still, my partner and I had identified over $3,000,000 in potential business from a territory which historically, had only produced about $400,000. I had made a decision to take another position out of state with my old firm so that I could spend more time with my family and relieve the intense stress I had been under. DG was struggling and had “done its customers wrong” in a number of areas. I decided to make a statement before leaving.
So, without announcing my resignation, I gave the presentation showing detailed opportunities to sell millions of dollars in products. The Comptroller, VP, my boss, and others in the room were salivating. They got more and more and more excited as the presentation went on. They were literally on the edge of their seats. As I drew near the conclusion, the VP shouted—“We’ll do whatever it takes to make this happen Joel—whatever it takes!”
“Great,” I said, “’Cause there ARE a few things we’ll have to do differently!” I then launched into a bonus series of slides outlining a nightmare case of poor customer support with one my clients. I had sold the first open systems Unix-based desktop to a company in Rochester, NY. The company supported Eastman Kodak—a household name. After promising them that our product would work with a certain printer, we couldn’t make that happen. After multiple attempts, our support staff told the customer that it really wasn’t supported and never would be, so they were just out of luck. I appealed to the Executive VP of the company—a man who was mentoring me at the time. He stepped in and got it fixed, but it almost caused a lawsuit and would have killed our reputation with Kodak—and thus, EVERY company in Western NY since most did business with Kodak.
“This nonsense can NEVER happen again or we’ll never see a penny of that $3,000,000,” I shouted. “Er…um…well…you’re right,” the VP replied. “We’ll do whatever it takes.” After the presentation, I walked into his office and resigned. “What?” he exclaimed—obviously in shock. “You just identified enough revenue to make yourself rich—why walk away?” “I presented this to help my partner and to help you,” I said. “I have a different call. I need to take care of my family and this other business has potential too.”
We parted on good terms and after just a short stint with my old firm, I was called into full-time ministry. All things considered, I’m glad I had the chance to "go out with a bang," so-to-speak by saying what needed to be said.
A Biblical Mandate
While commanding that we do it in love, the Bible clearly tells us to speak the truth to one another (see Eph 4:15, Matt 18:15-20, & Gal 6:1-2). What is it that you may need to say to someone--with grace and humility--that might make a positive difference? I hope you'll follow-through on whatever God gives you in that regard today...
To that end,