anythting, magnified; but never getting done
The Puttering Man was one of those who hesitated. He really knew no better at first. But, failing to achieve success, he pondered, wondering why others gained wealth, distinction, and happiness, while he just puttered along. He was withal an honest man — honest with himself as well as with others. He betook himself to his study one evening, lighted his pipe and started in to analyze his life. When he stopped to consider the matter he found that it was not necessary to hunt far to find the reason for his lack of success. He was living in a new age — in an era of system, a day of service, but he had not kept up to date in systematic effort...
entirety, below (note : paragraphs not numbered in original).
“The Puttering Man”
(Is it a simile, an allegory or a fable?)
- You have heard of the days of “caveat emptor” — the days of the buyer beware. You may have read of an era when few men were willing to take the responsibility for any sale. You know perhaps that at one time cumulative selling was unknown, that the slogan of the day was to make just as much as possible — to give as little as possible and to get as much as the buyer could be induced to pay. In those days men would have told you that the philosophy behind the golden rule was not applicable to business. Abuses were excused just because “business is business, you know.”
- It is a wonder you think now that the world could live and prosper under such conditions; yet somehow it did. But a change came. A day of individual efficiency and social service dawned. The evolution from the old to the new was slow, but gradually the renaissance in business took place. Many men hesitated even as we might have hesitated; to put the novel doctrines into practice.
- The Puttering Man was one of those who hesitated. He really knew no better at first. But, failing to achieve success, he pondered, wondering why others gained wealth, distinction, and happiness, while he just puttered along. He was withal an honest man — honest with himself as well as with others. He betook himself to his study one evening, lighted his pipe and started in to analyze his life. When he stopped to consider the matter he found that it was not necessary to hunt far to find the reason for his lack of success. He was living in a new age — in an era of system, a day of service, but he had not kept up to date in systematic effort. He had done good work in some respects; his mode of life morally was above reproach, but he puttered, and the business world had decreed that puttering was a sin. So it goes. Sometimes a man may achieve greatly in his youth under conditions tolerated by one generation, but in his old age, when a new generation — his own sons, perhaps — are the masters, conditions change and he finds himself a misfit. Or, perchance, his little faults, his putterings, may be magnified by his fellows until they overshadow his virtues and subject him to ridicule and mediocrity. Thus the Puttering Man pondered. His failures clearly had been due to a lack of systematic effort. Having admitted this fact to himself, he determined that he would never get anywhere without system in the new era of scientific administration, so he determined to alter his whole order of business. His consideration of the subject led him to certain conclusions which he expressed as follows:
- “When a job seems to be done in most cases it is really just beginning. When I write a letter I may think that is the end of it. As a matter of fact, however, it is just the beginning. That letter reaches its destination and what I have written sets some other man to thinking. This leads him to act and the first thing I know that letter is reaching back to me with all its consequences. In reality every time I think I have finished something I have really just started it off to become active for me or against me.”
- The Puttering Man had discovered a great truth which was new to him. His trouble had been that he was in the habit of starting things, but never getting done with anythting [sic]. Such methods might have availed in his youth — in the old days of “caveat emptor” before the great business renaissance, but the world had outgrown them. A man could no longer putter and win success. The evolution from the old order to the new had been slow and gradual and the Puttering Man had failed to note the change.
- But change there was, and it was sure and unalterable. Sitting there in his study, the Puttering Man saw it all. He realized that a day of system — a day of cumulative selling — a day of clientele relationships and human service had dawned. He saw himself as the product of a day that had passed. It was not too late, however, for him to change. It is seldom ever too late to rectify mistakes such as he had made. The Puttering Man thereupon (even as you and I) resolved to adapt himself to the new order, to systematize his efforts, to build up a clientele, to acquire his purchaser’s good will — in short to be a Service Man instead of a Puttering Man.
- There are men like the Puttering Man among the agents who represent the Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company to-day. Perhaps their business may be large in volume and good in quality, but as the Puttering Man learned, sometimes one is judged as much by the little things left undone as by the big things done.
- Some Mutual Benefit agents have seemed to think that when a letter is written from the Home Office that is the end of it so far as the Home Office is concerned. They have also seemed to think that when a shipment of leaflets or other supplies are sent from the Home Office that is the end of them so far as the Home Office is concerned. As a matter of fact, however, the mailing of a letter from the Home Office or a shipment of supplies from the Home Office is just the beginning. just the beginning. Take a Prospect Bureau letter, for instance. That letter is written at the Home Office, signed by an officer, and mailed from the Newark post office. In due time it reaches its destination. What is written in it should set some other man to thinking. This should lead him to act. May be the man ignores the letter, in which event, of course, it might better never have been written. If the letter accomplishes its purpose, it will set the agent to thinking, and it will lead him to act. If he acts upon the suggestion made in the prospect letter, he will see some other man; this other man will be set to thinking; and if the Home Office letter, augmented by the arguments of the agent, accomplishes its full purpose, business will result which will be of advantage to three parties: the Home Office from which the letter emanated, the agent who received the letter, and the consequences. If every one concerned has done his part, these consequences will be favorable. If, however, the letter is ignored by the agent when it reaches. its destination, the consequences will be disastrous. for all concerned: first, because of the effort of the Home Office has meant waste; second, because the agent has failed to appreciate an opportunity, and third, because the prospect named has not been given a chance to hear the merits of the Mutual Benefit’s proposition.
- If when the letter reaches its destination it does set the agent to thinking and does lead him to act, and he goes to see the prospect and secures an interview with him, but, like the Puttering Man, fails to report to the Home Office, the transaction is incomplete and the consequences are negative, because so far as the records of the Home Office are concerned the prospect letter accomplished nothing, although perhaps a favorable interview was secured by the agent. If the letter reaches its destination and sets the agent to thinking and leads him to act so that he secures an interview, and reports to the Home Office the results. of that interview, then, and then only, are the consequences which reach back to the Home Office positive and favorable.
- The day of the Puttering Man in the life insurance business has passed. The systematic Service Salesman is the type honored and respected to-day both by the Home Office and the public.
- In the life insurance business not only must there be systematic endeavor in the Home Office, but this must be supplemented and complemented by systematic endeavor on the part of the field men. The Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company would be impossible without a Home Office, and likewise it would be impossible without a field force. Both are essential and neither without the other is complete. System at the Home Office without system in the field results in confusion. System in the field without system in the Home Office would result in disaster.
- Every time a letter is written from the Home Office to a field man it is really just starting off to become. either active for the company or against the company. If it is made use of, it is active for the company. If it is not made use of, it is active against the company because it results in waste. The officers of the company and the Home Office in general are responsible not only for the creation of ideas but for all their consequences. Some one must be responsible, and the Home Office is the logical place for responsibility to rest. In a business like this involving millions of dollars of trust funds, while the Home office is responsible, still it must depend very largely on the cooperation of the company’s representatives throughout the country. Puttering will not do.
- In a scientific administration at the Home Office tangible results must be obtained from the expenditure of every dollar. Expense of management is a big factor in modern life insurance, and it should be a big factor. If the consequences of Prospect Bureau letters are negative, they must be discontinued in the interest of good business. That the consequences on the average will be positive and favorable has been repeatedly demonstrated by the experience of those agents who have diligently and conscientiously cooperated with the Home Office in completing the circuit started by the original Home Office letter.