How I won the War Part 1
From shoe jockeying to librarianship I was in the trenches.
I was beginning to hit middle age for an athlete that being about 25 to 29 years old and I had never really had much of anything that was a recognized profession and I was somewhat feeling gently nudged or pushed toward doing something to prepare myself for being a washed up athlete always on the cusp the verge of making the big time.
So I fell into a position with the New Balance Athletic Shoe CO and it was kind of a natural having done some part time work with them and been “employed” as one of their New Balance Track Club athletes and the position was under umbrella of Marketing and Promotions naturally so there you go here is your desk here are your files here is how you use the phone welcome to the working week don’t forget to wear a choker (tie).
I inherited the position from my friend and teammate Kevin Ryan a New Zealand athlete and Olympian who I had been working with and running many miles with so I thought perhaps it would be a seamless transition and kind of it was but there was a lot going on within the company and the industry and athletics that all conspired to a rude awakening after I took my seat at that desk.
I sat there and I did the best I could to survive the onslaught I wore my tie and carried my briefcase and some things actually went my way. I heard demands from the athletes the sales force college coaches race organizers I mean essentially a big part of the job was giving stuff away. Dealing with the athletes demands was a tough one many of them personal friends so I thought anyway when someone’s livelihood is on the line the pistols and large knives come out.
“Time wounds all heals.”
In January 1985 I attended my first sales meeting in Dallas where I would be giving a presentation to the sales reps and all the mucky mucks telling them about all the great things the NBTC athletes were doing and all the promotions we had planned in their respective sales regions. The left coasters always complained that they never got any PR NB having started out in Boston and much stronger presence on the east coast.
Well, I gave a stirring speech like a Knute Rockne with charts and graphs and 8X10 glossy photos and we had posters and key chains and all that giveaway junk for them and when I finished they were eating out of the palm of my hand mesmerized by this very stable genius and his running promotion plans and the applause was deafening and the mic dropped…..
While in Dallas we stayed at a kind of seedy motel me and my roomie John “boot” Gorman who worked in Co-OP or discounting or some such program created to make people believe they were getting a deal.
I think the actual meetings may have been at the Hilton or something but we were in the low rent district. Dallas in January seemed quite inhospitable but boot and I got up and ran every morning early through ice storms and hurricanes even though we had been out drinking until the wee hours.
After my presentation the pressure was off and for the remainder of my time at the meetings I stood around at a shoe show expo in the New Balance booth and just chatted with people and went out to get coffee for the mucky mucks.
There was a local runner a part of our “grass roots” program who was an assistant manger at the big running store in town and this guy wanted to be part of the New Balance Track Club and coveted a singlet very badly. I would not give him one told him we had standards and so he showed me all his news clippings how he won this race and that wearing the little NB singlet and he did too in 31:00 for 10K and that just didn’t cut it.
I should have just given him a singlet I mean this guy was a zealot for New Balance but the more I denied it the more he wanted it he took me to a Mavericks game bought me drinks took me to a nightclub insisted I dance with his girl friend and one dance led to another and I was making a move may have mesmerized her while doing the batman dance https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGl6OlSczdU
Anyway the entire business well I just was not cut out for I mean I could do it make a living be a suck cess but my heart wasn’t in it and I wondered if some of these business types had a heart and I could see what it was doing to me not giving the local guy a stupid singlet I mean geezus who the hell cared.
“The past is not dead in fact it is not even past.”