March 15, 2005

My Interview

I agreed to participate in an interview meme that is going around the blogosphere. So here are the answers to the questions that Brian asked me and a link back to his own interview.

Allow me to preface this by saying that I debated between styles of answering the questions. That is, I considered just pumping out answers on the fly and going with it, as opposed to spending some time thinking about what I wanted to say.

I am quick enough on my feet to have done that, but I decided that I wanted to mull them over a bit and try and give more thoughtful replies. Since I am writing this prior to having answered any of the questions it remains to be seen how well I do.

One more point to make. I see this as an opportunity to continue my own personal growth, so the quest here is not to try and be interesting but to be honest and not go for the kinds of responses that I think people want to read but the thoughts/feelings/ideas that I truly believe in.

P.S. This is really long, please accept my apology in advance.

  1. I know that you are a concerned father and try to teach your son the things he needs to succeed in life. But what have you learned from your son?

My son is growing up to be the me I should be. He has taught me to look at the world with a sense of wonder. I know that it sounds like a cliché and it is, but it has been so much fun to look at the world through his eyes again. To lie on the grass and watch the bugs crawl and to wonder where they are going and if their mommies miss them.

He has restored my interest in learning about everything, taught me that you should never stop learning and that this should be more than lip service. He has helped to teach me about my core beliefs, to question what I believe and why so that I can answer his questions.

  1. Being Jewish is central to your identity. What is one passage from the Torah that holds special meaning to you?

I spent a lot of time thinking about this because there are so many important concepts and values. The Wisdom of Judaism is not limited to that contained within the Torah, there are various other sources such as the Talmud. Some of my favorite quotes/passages can be located in what is called > Pirkei Avot .

In English Pirkei Avot is generally translated as Ethics of our Fathers. It contains a series of statements by great Jewish sages. Quite a few of them resonate with me, but if I had to pick among them I would choose the two quotes below by Hillel because the values that they speak of are so important.

“He would also say: If I am not for myself, who is for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?”

Hillel would say: “Do not separate yourself from the community. Do not believe in yourself until the day you die. Do not judge your fellow until you have stood in his place. Do not say something that is not readily understood in the belief that it will ultimately be understood [or: Do not say something that ought not to be heard even in the strictest confidence, for ultimately it will be heard]. And do not say "When I free myself of my concerns, I will study,'' for perhaps you will never free yourself.”

  1. I've read some of your fiction work. Where do you get the inspiration for your writing and your characters?

My mother said that when I was in preschool my teacher said that I had the most active imagination of any child she had met and that she expected me to become some kind of writer.

I do have a very active imagination. I see things in my mind, whatever it is I am discussing is visualized and played out inside my head.

I am not sure that I can point to one thing, to one trait or characteristic that inspires me. It is an excellent question. The fiction I have produced is always related to personal experiences, places I have been, experiences that I have had, people that I have met. I suppose that you could say that there is a voice inside my head that dictates the tale and I merely transcribe the words.

I am a big fan of fantasy and science fiction, but I never write about those things. I prefer to pick on characters that are real people. They are people that you can relate to because you know them or people like them. They have feelings and flaws, parts of them are broken and parts of them are heroic.

And I like writing about people who have had their hearts broken and dreams shattered. Some of them never recover and some find the way to get beyond the pain into a place that they never imagined could exist.

But no answer to this question is complete without mentioning music. I almost always write with music on in the background. I own around 400 CDs and have close to 2,000 songs on iTunes. It is a pretty diverse collection. Here is what has been playing during the time in which I have been answering these questions.

  • Beautiful- Moby
  • Ball n' Chain- Big Mama Thornton
  • The Breaking of the Fellowship- LOTR Soundtrack
  • Erin Grá Mo Chrói (Ireland of My Heart)- Cherish the Ladies
  • May It Be- Enya
  • Hurt-Johnny Cash
  • Hard to Handle- Otis Redding
  • Somebodys Crying- Chris Issak
  • What’s Going On- Marvin Gaye
  • Boulevard of Broken Dreams- Green day
  • Europa and The Pirate Twins- Thomas Dolby
  • Remember- Josh Groban
  • Summertime- Ella Fitzgerald
  • Stupid- Sarah Mclachlan
  • Love Reign O'er Me- The Who
  • Love Train- The Ojays

4. I'm a newly minted college graduate who wants a career in sales. What advice would you give to me?

I have written and rewritten this response at least three times. I could write a 2000 word essay about sales in the blink of an eye, but I don’t want to subject you all to that.

If you want to be a great salesperson you need to be willing to do a number of things. First, learn how to communicate effectively in both verbal and written mediums. You have to be able to paint a picture that people can relate to so that they give you some time to introduce yourself and your products/services.

You need to be able to deal with rejection, to learn how to just let it roll like water off of a duck’s back. You need to learn to read why you are being told no. Is it a temporary no, that is, are they interested in your offer but not ready to commit to a purchase, or do they have no interest whatsoever in what you are selling. Both scenarios require different responses.

You need to commit to doing homework. Learn the features/benefits of what you are selling and your competition. The reality is that you will often find that there is a competitor whose product is almost identical to yours. When this happens the deal can come down to relationships and sometimes it is as simple as someone liking you more as a person than the next guy.

As an expert in your field you become a trusted resource to your customers and prospective customers. Help them learn to trust you by serving as a resource.

Know when to tell someone that they should not buy from you because it is not the right opportunity for them. People think of salespeople as being mercenaries, show them that you are more than just money-oriented and it will pay off. It is much easier to retain customers than to find new ones. Build your base and always work to maintain it.

Never let anyone try and tell you that sales is anything but an honorable profession. Most CEOs are former salespeople. I believe that to be for a variety of reasons. The best salespeople are agile, flexible, goal oriented, organized, determined, tenacious, smart and good with people.

This is getting long, so let me try and tie it up. If you want to be a good salesperson you need to be able to tell a story, listen to the questions/answers the story generates and then give a short response.

If you can do that, then you can sell. It is the little things that surround the storytelling that distinguish you from the rest.

5. You are sitting in quiet place having a drink. A woman walks in and you can't keep your eyes off of her. You are captivated. What is it about this woman that attracts your attention?

This is one of those questions that has some hidden land mines in it, so I want to be careful in my answer. It is another one that I have written and rewritten because I don’t feel like I am being real clear in my answers.

Hmm… In my youth some of my friends would have described her as having dark hair, dark eyes and busty. That is not necessarily the case anymore. I notice a lot of things about women.

The way that they walk and carry themselves- Are they confident or self-conscious.

Their Style of Dress- Is she dressed to get attention or getting attention because of who she is.

Scent- Maybe it is nothing more than pheromones, but certain scents grab me and hold my attention.

Hands- I notice hands. There is something about a woman’s hands that grabs my eye.

Legs- Nice legs will always catch my eye.

Eyes- I love staring into a nice pair of eyes. The color doesn’t matter, it is that special quality behind them. I like eyes that show awareness, intelligence and some kind of sparkle.

Aww hell. If the question is based solely upon looks and focuses upon the superficial aspect than I can give one kind of answer. That is not to knock the question, just my frustration with my answer.

So I am going to take the liberty of adjusting this somewhat. If you want to know what my perfect woman looks like let’s paint her this way.

She is educated and interested in the world around her.
She loves to laugh and loves to travel.
She is comfort in silence and comfortable hosting a dinner party.
She is very sexual and affectionate, loves to read and to cook.
She is strong willed and not afraid of intensity. She knows when to push me and when not to because she pays attention to me.
She loves to be a woman and is feminine, but not afraid to get dirty.
She loves children.
She has a quiet elegance.
She loves life.

P.P.S. If I read this again I can guarantee that I am going to want to change/revamp my answers.

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