Dear Todd Cohen.com Sales Community,
Do you remember the person who hired you for your first job? I do, and today I had the very great pleasure of having lunch and a wonderful time with my first manager, Joel Mickelberg. I have not seen Joel in 15 years, and it was amazing to reconnect with him and talk about my days at Xerox and—most importantly—be able to say “thank you.”
In 1984, as a senior at Temple University, I was in the hunt for a job, and Joel was on campus representing Xerox. I interviewed with Joel and still remember it vividly. I also remember a question he asked me during the interview when he handed me a pencil and told me to “sell it to him”! Evidently I did OK, because he moved me along, and I stayed with Xerox for almost 13 years.
As I was talking to Joel at lunch, I was reminded of why he was the type of sales manager whom people remained loyal to after many years. Joel knew how to connect with people because he deeply and genuinely cared for us. He cared for our well-being as people and as sales professionals in development. He defended us, made sure we knew when we were doing the right things, and he gently and firmly coached us when we strayed. He protected us against bad advice and direction and kept us honest and growing. People loved working for Joel, and it showed. He opened his home to us on several occasions and his heart as well. Joel was a coach and a mentor and a good one at that.
Joel is recently retired, and when I pulled up to his house I was delighted to see that he looks great and is now a proud grandfather and is still the same guy I knew 25 years ago. We reminisced about people we knew and worked with, and it was fun to hear his perspectives on selling after all of these years. I really felt as if time had not passed and we had not been out of touch all these years. What a great day today was.
The best part was when I was saying goodbye to Joel, he looked at me and said “I am proud of you.” That meant more to me than I could ever express. I would be lying if I said I did not still have a lump in my throat as I am writing this.
So, Joel now I can say “thank you” for everything you did for me. You are a big reason I am who I am today as a sales professional. I am honored to have had you in those very early years and I am a better man for it.
I hope that all of my readers have a “Joel” that you can say “thanks” to as well.