This week saw the passing of one of the legendary sales executives in America as Jay Whorton, Associate Publisher of the Marietta Daily Journal, died after a lengthy illness.
Jay was a man who I first got to know when I was still young – in my early 30s. He and I formed a friendship that seemed surprising to me in that we were different in many ways.Yet, like many others, I was captivated by his personality… His infectious smile… and most importantly, his good mind.
I turned to Jay many times for advice and his insights. He never hesitated to teach… In fact, he taught me the value of mentoring to others…young or old.
You may not have known Jay…but if you know me – or any of the thousands of others who knew and loved him – you have been indirectly impacted by him. That’s because in some small ways, Jay’s friends mirrored his traits. Ironically, just today, I realized that I mimic Jay, addressing friends with the salutation, ‘Dr.’ – just as he did! I’m not sure why, but it seems to break the ice…lightening up a conversation from the onset.
Jay knew that in selling (and all of us sell something – starting with ourselves!) you need to get beyond the plastic outer layer we all tend to wear. Being human means showing a part of yourself that can both be authentic, memorable and worth knowing. And that’s what Jay Whorton did…for 85 glorious years.
You may not have to sell any commodity…nor interface with thousands of people. But, having the chance to ‘tell’ your point-of-view effectively to those you face every day is important; hence, making Jay’s advice on being authentic relevant to us all.
Jay helped me understand to ‘sell’ safety to audiences, it’s important to be memorable. He told a story of how he called on one ad prospect several times, having the hardware store owner be rude and disregard him after he went out of his way to stop by for an appointment. After having several occasions of being ‘stood up,’ Jay made one last call on this owner. When once again the hardware store owner started to repeat his rudeness, Jay took a knife that was on the man’s desk and stuck it into the desk top. He got the owner’s undivided attention – who told Jay he would have to replace the desk. But, Jay also won the owner over with his authenticity… and signed an advertising contract that continued over two decades!
Not all of us can pull off plunging a knife into a desktop (it’s not too safe, for one thing!) But, the lesson I took away is not to be afraid to be memorable. So, I will continue to seek to help ‘our story’ stand out and be heard… changing how people think and behave in ways impacting their life. Hopefully, some of this thinking will extend lives…allowing a few more people to be loved longer…and do more good to those in this world.
Thanks, Jay, for your lessons in wisdom and heart. We’ll be making those house calls for ‘the Doctor’ while you get acquainted with your new digs in Heaven! And, will let those we work with know that Jay Whorton is still at work here in Marietta…through his friends at Safe America.