It was one of those seemingly innocuous events that should have been long ago forgotten. Instead, it is so etched in my memory that I have even given it a name: The Gus Schael Syndrome.
When I was growing up in the 1950s, Lawler, Iowa was a bustling little village. One of our local entrepreneurs, Gus Schael, owned a hatchery that was great fun for little kids but a pain for the local postmaster. It was always a thrill to go into the post office and hear dozens of baby chicks chirping behind the mail boxes. They had been shipped in that morning awaiting Hatchery Man Gus to come pick them up in their cardboard boxes with small round holes inserted for breathing purposes.
I’m guessing that I was about ten years old when one summer day Gus said, “Bill, I’m tired of people from the dance hall next to my hatchery driving up on the lawn. I am going to build some bricks and stones up so the cars have to stop before they reach the grass. Are you interested in the job?”
Other than mowing lawns, it was my first real chance to make money so I jumped at the opportunity. Gus had put the stones in a large pile and gave me instructions on how he wanted his barricade to look, promising to check on my progress every once in awhile.
I enjoyed the task. It was a warm day but not too hot. The bricks were not too heavy and when he stopped out to check my work, he brought me a lemonade or soda. Upon completion, I felt a sense of satisfaction on how it looked and the fact that he was going to actually pay me for doing it.
And that’s were the Gus Schael Syndrome comes into the picture.
“Nice job, Bill. How much do you want for the work?”
“Uh, I don’t know Mr. Schael. Whatever you think it’s worth.”
“No, you did the work. Tell me what you need.”
Now I was really in a quandary. Here was this really old man (probably 40!) asking me to tell him what what my time was worth.
“I just don’t know. Please tell me what you think would be fair, Mr. Schael.”
“How about seventy-five cents an hour?” he asked.
And that’s when I said it, “Oh, that’s way too much for what I did.”
Fortunately, Gus ignored my statement and paid me an incredible $.75 per hour because he valued my time and effort more than I did. Frankly, thanks to his persistence and integrity, I earned a lot more than the princely sum of $6.00 for my eight hours that July day. From that point on I have challenged myself to believe in myself as much as those who pay me for my time and services.
This little tale relates to those of you who have products or services to sell and don’t fully appreciate how important you are.
Occasionally I will hear a salesperson express a reluctance to call on a prospect. As Zig Ziglar would say, “That’s stinkin’ thinkin.’ ”
Every time that you recommend a product or concept that the prospect may not have thought of, you are providing an incredible service.
Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking that what you do as an entrepreneur is not important. Your contribution to yourself, your family, our economy and society is enormous.
Bill Sheridan—SHERIDAN WRITES
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