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The World's Greatest Salesman
Danforth Philemon Strout was born in 1952, son of Bobert Strout, a cockfight promoter and miniature golf course sweeper, and his quiet mother, Elma, who didn't really do much of anything. Bobert's life was bitterly hard, and he never failed to tell young Danforth at least ten times each day for no apparent reason, "Danforth Strout, you will never amount to anything". Sometimes Bobert added, "And the other thing I wanted to tell you was...", paused and then continued, "Danforth Strout, you will never amount to anything." Predictably, Danforth had a very poor opinion of himself and his prospects. Elma Strout was worried about all of this and nervously stroked her hair a lot.
Danforth's life changed at the age of ten. One day, he was putting a penny on a railroad track to see if a train would flatten it later. A limousine pulled up beside him, and a well-dressed man stepped out. "Kid, what are you doing with that penny?" After Danforth explained his intentions, the stranger was upset. "Listen here, young fella! You can't go treating money like that. Money needs your respect, or you'll never have any of it. Case in point--once that penny is squashed, it's no longer useful as legal tender, so you'll have lost a cent you could have otherwise invested. And didn't you know it's against the law to destroy currency of the United States of America?"
This stranger was, in fact, the famous Jay Van Andel, a man of faith, family, business, and philanthropy. Jay Van Andel offered Danforth a job selling Amway products. "But I'm only... uh... ten."
"Good!" replied Jay Van Andel, "If you start now, you can make the Double Amethyst Distributor level by the time you're 12. Then just let all the people underneath you do the hard work, while you work on a sun tan instead with your beautiful wife and kids at your new house in Barbados which will be very large and classy."
Jay Van Andel judged that Danforth needed more confidence, so he bought a custom-tailored suit for the 10-year-old. Danforth wore it every day and it was like a suit of armor to shield him from Bobert Strout's dire predictions of failure.
In two years time, 12-year-old Danforth did reach the Double Amethyst Distributor level in the Amway organization, and this allowed him to buy new parents that were more supportive than the old ones. He was set for life with more money than he would ever need. Yet still, Danforth felt empty. He needed some more important goal in life--something worthwhile to pursue. Eventually, it came to him.
"I will become the World's Greatest Salesman!"
He then set out on a quest to master every art of salesmanship. His goal: an ability to influence anyone to buy anything. He abandoned all interest in products and services that had obvious value. Sure, he could sell these things and make lots of money, but what would that prove? He wanted to sell things that nobody could imagine needing.
In 1966, He met with a man named Tobias Vittel. Tobias said, "I want to put tapwater in plastic bottles and sell it to people in grocery stores, but everybody says it's a stupid idea."
"It is a stupid idea," agreed Danforth, "and that's why I love it!" Danforth personally visited over 8,000 grocery stores and convinced buyers to carry the bottled tapwater. After shelves were stocked, Danforth handed salty pretzels to people entering stores to make them more likely to buy bottled water as they shopped. With the Strout sales effort behind him, Vittel quickly amassed a fortune selling people water they could have got from their kitchen sink for free.
Danforth accomplished many things that should have been impossible, and it became difficult for him to find anything new to achieve. Yet Danforth Strout defined himself by his neverending quest for personal excellence as a salesman. The need to pitch the unpitchable could not go unsatisified.
Thankfully, he came across Caravel Games. It seemed they would come up with something new to sell each month, and it was all terribly confusing. It took Danforth a few months to understand all the different offerings. Is this CaravelNet thing a product or a service? Smitemaster's Selection is separate from CaravelNet or the same thing? Customers only have one week to learn about a Smitemaster's Selection CD and then it becomes impossible to buy it? The full title of your product is "Deadly Rooms of Death: Journey to Rooted Hold"? There are four different versions of the thing called "King Dugan's Dungeon"? Is that a game or an expansion pack or... a "hold", you say? What's a hold?
This disturbing miasma of overlapping and contradicting definitions was perfect for Danforth. "Nobody will want to buy this stuff until I tell them about it!" Danforth was offered the position of Vice President of Sales, which he declined. "I do not preside over salesmen. I am a salesman--the world's greatest!" So a metal plate was affixed to his office door, which reads: "Danforth Strout, World's Greatest Salesman".