So, who is this “Enlightened Rogue” person? Bob O’Hearn is the oldest of 10 children from a (violent) Irish-Catholic suburb of Boston called Somerville. He has been expelled from both catholic and public schools, spent a year in a juvenile facility, went to Viet Nam, (he says it was like Club Med) attended Berklee College of Music, The Chef’s training Institute, picked up a nasty drink and drug habit, kicked, cold turkey, found and lost Jesus, shed 50lbs, sold radiopharmaceuticals for Dupont and Bristol-Myers Squibb and found his wife and his life’s calling in his 50s.
Bob is now President and CEO of Double O Creative along with his lovely V.P. wife Susan. Besides keeping him on his meds, kicking his ass and making sure he takes out the trash, Susan has her hands full and she does it all without drugs. We think.
Sales? How could such a thing happen?
This is an excerpt from a book I am writing on how I miraculously got a sales job for Dupont selling radiopharmaceuticals and what happened during that crazy period. I spent most of my adult life up to that point as a professional chef, musician and erstwhile stand-up comedian. None of which required sobriety or any form of coherency. Actually, it wasn’t allowed.
When I was 35 and finally chemically clean, my brother John got me a job on the dock at Dupont pushing radioactive packages around. I thought, this is working? I was having a blast. This was the most fun I could have with my drawers up. Amazingly, I would soon find myself relocated to Arizona with a sales position and a couple of thousand people to inflict myself on. What were these people thinking?
On June 19, 1990, I got the call at almost midnight from a district manager offering me a sales position involving Arizona and New Mexico. We had some preliminary discussion about an opportunity like this before, but I thought once they looked into my background, it wouldn’t happen.
As I accepted, I immediately started to worry about how long I could hang on to the job before they discovered their gaffe. After my first National Sales Meeting, I was disabused of any fancy notions I had about sales, marketing and the corporate world. I thought to myself, at least I knew how to drink without mooning someone.
After my move to Arizona, I spent about three months trying to get some detailed instruction on how to proceed in my new career. During which time I nearly had several nervous breakdowns because I never really got a satisfactory explanation. The advice my counterparts were giving me was hysterical. I thought it must be a setup. My first official task was to give price increases to 109 existing customers. I was traveling with my boss at the time and I asked his help on how to proceed. I had never seen a sales spreadsheet before.
We sat outside our hotel in Albuquerque one balmy evening and I pulled out the reams of computer paper and started reading them upside down. When I could make sense of what my new customers were paying, I asked him how much he thought I should increase each account. His response was “what do you think they ought to pay?” Huh? I had no clue. He told me to increase the prices to whatever I felt was right. This made no sense. I didn’t even know who these people were. I was still taking hospital janitors to lunch.
Anger replaced fear, so I went up stairs to my room, ordered coffee and made the whole thing up just to get it out of my sight. I just threw numbers at every account for no particular reason until they all got a bump. I gave him the paperwork at breakfast. He never looked at it, stuffed into his brief case and I took him to the airport. I worried myself sick over the reaction of the in house crowd and the sure to come ridicule.
Three weeks later, I got a call at my house from my boss asking how I came up with the numbers I gave him in my territory plan. Before I could answer, he told me the number was exactly what marketing was predicting and all the pricing was spot on. You sure you’ve never done this before? “Nice work, Bobby!”
That was the first of many confusing experiences I had in my new career. As time went on I learned to play the game. The experiences I had and the people I met and worked with, the places I traveled to, and yes, what I had to do after dark to keep my sales numbers “up.” I was single after all, and my Syncor rep let every lonely female tech in every competitive account know that I was looking to settle down. I can assure you I wasn’t interested in someone who spent 12 hours a day in a dark room, had a mustache and wrestled on the weekend.
Now, during my sales years, if you and me have ever crossed paths, worked, traveled, or did “business” together during this period, you might be fair game, and you feel you might get a little worried. Please, go ahead.
You guys all had a good laugh when that female tech’s dog bit me in the ass as I was leaving her house. It turned into an scandalous on the job injury and lots of water cooler chat about the famous Dupont experiment. Me! The bizarre stories coming back from the field were aptly named “Hearnage,” a play on my last name and carnage. So many stories I could almost write a book. Wait!?
Well, it’s time to buckle up kiddies, we’re gonna have a little fun while I still have some gray matter left.
I have found through years of research and personal experience that being naive and gullible can have its advantages, and that if you don’t get enough formal education to hurt you, and your libido is in fine, working order, the more successful you will be in your sales career. Stay tuned.