How to Get Promoted

Milton D. Stone, Jr.
Canada, 1969

But I think that one of the greatest tragedies that exists in this vast life we’re living in today is the fact that we’ve got some men doing good jobs in companies, doing real good jobs, and men that have been brought up to believe that if you do a good job, and do your best, that the world’s going to kind of take care of you. And they’ll rock along in a job for maybe eight or ten years and all the time they're thinking, you know, well maybe one of these days I’ll be this or I’ll be that and then one of these days happens, and they don’t even not only get the job they ain’t even considered for it. You’re just a body out there without a name on it.

And so when this happens, you go off somewhere in a corner and you lay down like a dog licking a hurt foot and you feel like the world has done something to you and a lot of these people end up committing suicide, they get ulcers, they have nervous breakdowns and all this kind of stuff. See?

Now you can eliminate that, you can eliminate that, if you make it known to your boss what you expect to have out of this career that you’ve entered into. And if you are not going to be considered, now I don’t mean promoted, I mean if you’re not even going to be considered, somehow or another you will get the message, believe me. And when you get that message there ain’t but one thing for you to do dad and that’s get out. And go get you somebody else. But don’t wait until it’s too late. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

I’m going to give you a little example of how that worked for me now. I told you all about uh about this old Ford career that I had. And to make a long story short, in 1957 after a couple of years in this big dealership where I was the number two man, and had aspirations for being the number one man, my brother and I decided to get out of the new car business and become used car dealers. That’s when the new car dealers were keeping the iron and wholesaling all the good stuff. So we decided that we’d get in on a piece of that pie. So we get in the used car business and we stay in it for 25 months, and at the end of 25 months we had not achieved what we wanted. We were very lucky. We made a living for 25 months, we sold everything we had and we ended up with $1000 apiece profit. And about all you can say out of that is we didn’t go broke.

So we go back over to this dealership now where we had been the number two and number three man and they ain’t hunting for no number two and number three men that day, see? So we go in there and we take a job on the sales force. And that was the first time in my life that I had ever been a commission salesman. Of course I had sold a bunch of automobiles as a used car dealer and as a manager and one thing and another, and I sold a few for my father. That’s the first time in my life that I ever worked for somebody else on a commission just like you men are here. So I said to myself. I said, “Stone,” I said ,“You’re -- you got a little bit more education, you ought to be running this place, but this is what you’re going to do so let’s get in there and do it and be the best one down here.”

I said that to myself.

And I wasn’t the best one but I was very near the best one. One month I was number two, one month number three, another month number four, and then number two, and kind of like that.

OK. Just rock, we rock along here for a few months and one of these days, this dealership’s got about seven sales managers of various and assorted types, and one of them fell off the wagon one day and they needed to fill up a hole. So they call this big tall skinny boy in there and they asked him if he’d like to have that job running that little old mickey mouse used car lot. We had three of them. This was the littlest one. Well I was smart enough to realize that if I was ever going to come back up the pole so to speak this was a, was a, I had to grab on it there you know. So I said “Yeah.”

So we’re sitting in the dealer’s office now. And this is a new dealer. This ain’t the dealer that I had managed for before because he had been bought out, and all this guy knew about me was what he knew as a salesman. So finally, we’re sitting there talking and uh the sales manager the general sales manager’s talking a little bit and finally the dealer looks at me, and he’s real sincere, and he looks at me and says “Mr. Stone you think you can handle that job?”

Well I don’t know why it was but it just made me so mad I couldn’t see straight. I mean it really did. Here I had been running that place before he ever got there and he wanted to know if I could handle the job. So, I looked at him, I said, “Mr. Caldwell, I says I can run the job that you’ve got. If you’ll just get up from behind the desk, I’ll sit down and start running it.”

Well he looked at me, and blinked a little bit you know. And we didn’t talk no more about that. First thing you know. First thing you know, you know we traded about what the percentage was going to be and all that and I went on out.

Well anyway, eleven months later, all these other guys had gone for some reason or another. One of them got a dealership, one of them got fired, and this that and the other. And, and eleven months later guess who the general sales manager was?

That tall skinny guy.

And I really don’t believe that I would have been, except that I let him know from the day I came in there what I wanted. You see what I’m talking about? We had a real plain understanding on it. I knew it and he knew it and I was working toward it. And every chance I got, somebody would leave you know and I’d be sales manager for a month, you know, that kind of stuff. And finally, finally, I got the job. This is what we mean by being ready for responsibility and accepting it when its offered and letting people know. If you’re even, if you’re a failure it’s nice to know it and then you ain’t got to worry about it no more.

Now men, I’m through. I’m through. We’ve talked here for a long time. We’ve talked for 9 weeks. I’m not going to talk to you any more except a little bit tonight at the graduation. We’re going to have some distinguished people at that graduation, I certainly hope all of you’ll be there.

I do want to say this, it’s been my real pleasure to be with you in London. I’m going to come back to see you anywhere from two to four weeks from now depending on what dealership you’re in. I hope you’ll take some of these things now and put them to work and let them help you.

I enjoyed it.

Thank you very much.