Dear Diary – Page 86

Having determined, after one day on the job, that delivering bread etc on a house to house basis was not what I was mentally prepared to do, it was back to looking through the local papers at the job opportunities.

I have not been looking for work for a very long time but I suspect that certain ads are still out there. Those that say “Call us if you are earning less than $10.000.00/month” … or similar. Back when I was looking for work, there seemed very little in the way of opportunities except one ad “Want to earn more? The sky’s the limit with us. No experience necessary. We will train” I called!

I was set up with an interview at a local hotel and was introduced to CICA (Combined Insurance Company of America). They made it quite clear that the job was selling PA (Personal Accident) insurance on a “cold call” basis. They would train me to do the job. Was I interested? Given my options … yes, I was extremely interested. The payment was minimum salary plus lucrative commission, and (if I recall correctly) they paid above the minimum salary during training.

I duly went to my first training session and for me, at that time, it was a huge exposure to a totally different world. The training consisted teaching us “recruits” exactly what to say and how to say it. It included when to emphasize, when inflections were to be used and when to pause. Humor (joke provided) was to be inserted at a very specific point. The final touch was to learn how to respond to, and negate, all the expected questions. Upon reflection, I spent a week in a very focused acting program!

Noting that CICA was built by W. Clement Stone, it is no surprise now (but was then) that PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) messages were covering the walls of our training areas. Many of them said simply “SMILE”, which seemed rather silly at first but, after a few days, you actually smiled when you saw the sign! In was a crash course of brain washing .. but it worked!

I can still remember the introduction “I believe this will interest you also.” The key word being “also”! The perspective was that if somebody else was interested in it, then the prospective buyer would probably at least listen!

The annual cost of the policy was broken down to pennies per day so the response to the usual “I’m sorry, I can’t afford PA insurance.” Was “If you cannot afford PA Insurance, then you certainly cannot afford not to have it. What would happen if you could not work for any reason, and it only costs pennies a day. Can you really not afford a few pennies a day?” Pride generally worked in our favor!

At the end of the week, I had learned my lines; practiced them many times on fellow “students”, and was ready to start work. I was to meet a small group at a cafe at 7:00am on the Monday.


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