I've Always Been Nuts



The Parade




The initiation of my business career was in the Business Systems Division of Kodak.

My responsibilities included calling on large hospitals, marketing equipment for the conversion of patient records to microfilm.


At Kodak one always, and I mean always, arrived seven minutes early for appointments and if you were kept waiting longer than 10 minutes, you rescheduled with a gracious smile and departed.


Kodak maintained this level of arrogance because they were a monopoly, but conversely instilled strict time discipline into all employees, especially front line representatives.

Prior to assuming a sales territory for Kodak in any division, you were sentenced to world headquarters in Rochester, New York for concentrated education.


In Business Systems your incarceration was six months of classroom training, lectures and endless equipment labs, and as importantly, assimilation into the Kodak corporate culture.  This was termed “getting your injection of Yellow Blood”.


The task was to absorb technical and business knowledge to embody Kodak and for achieving this you would receive exceptional training, a formal corporate education, studying more business cases than a Wharton MBA and procuring an eye-popping résumé starter.


Eastman Kodak was obscenely profitable, enjoying worldwide brand recognition, second only to Coca-Cola and was able to garner top candidates as sales representatives.  At that time in business history there were three companies that every MBA graduate pursued: IBM, Xerox or Kodak.

The 21 trainees in my class were all characters, all bright, several hilariously funny, but each prepared to toe the corporate line.  The age range was 22 to 38.  We were college educated and had a sameness of personality traits that was eerie since Kodak recruited using physiological profiles.  I was the youngest.


As an eager new guy in my territory I secured an appointment with the Director of a prominent children’s hospital lured by the potential of new business.  Entering the hospital lobby, brimming with an undeserved sense of self-importance, I was frozen solidly in my tracks and ultimately late for my long sought appointment.  The five-and-under patients were staging a parade, singing Sesame Street songs besieging the lobby and corridors.  Everyone had a party hat and streamers.  The “floats” propelled by nurses were children’s wheelchairs or wheeled cribs with helium balloons attached, some trailing breathing apparatuses.


This convoy of tiny patients snaked through the lobby, blocking all traffic, causing me to try and hide my tears because it was obvious that some of these cheerful little souls were not going to make it.  This special procession had obviously been a much-anticipated event and the happy animated faces made me appreciate that any ray of sunlight brightened the difficult days ahead.


The ramifications of being seven minutes early vanished affirming, what was really important in life.






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