Never Give Up – Help is at Hand!
By Dottie Walters, CSP
My mother and father were divorced just as I was to enter high school. They were having a loud fight on the front porch, and I knew the neighbors could hear them. My Mother asked my father how I could go to college. He yelled at her that there was not a college in the country that would consider me, I was too dumb. Then he left.
I always had jobs all through high school and learned a great deal about business, sales and management from every one of them. My mom and I shared one can of Campbell’s Scotch Broth soup with lots of soda crackers broken up in it every evening for supper.
The librarian at the Alhambra Library who had always been very kind to me, took my the hand and took me up stairs to a room that she explained held the stories of “People of Achievement.” What a treasure trove! I met Ben Franklin, Amelia Earhart, Albert Einstein and many more. I read one each week. I always felt they were speaking to me. I believe all authors write for the listening heart.
My high school sweetheart Bob Walters joined the United States Marine Corps when Pearl Harbor was bombed. He was gone 4 years and fought in most of the major battles of the South Pacific – including Tarawa. We wrote to each other every day. When he returned we were married and bought a little tract home in Baldwin Park, California. It was mainly a chicken ranch community. Bob also bought a dry cleaning franchisee. (He had worked in that field during high school) God gave us two darling babies, a boy and a girl.
Then a terrible recession hit the United States and no one was having anything dry cleaned. One night Bob came home, slumped down on the coach and put his head down in his hands. I put my arms around him to ask him if he was sick. He replied, “I can’t pay the house payment.”
At that moment I had an idea. I had been Advertising Manager of my local Alhambra High “Moor” newspaper, and had created a “Shoppers Column” in it to bring in more income for the “Moor.” I asked Bob if I could start one in Baldwin Park, the chicken ranching town where our little tract home was located.
He was so worried he could not answer me. I grabbed a piece of paper and sat at the kitchen table to write a list of what I needed. A typewriter, typewriter paper, a way to get myself and the children to the newspaper office and the stores around it to sell the Shoppers Column ads.
My next door neighbor had a typewriter she seldom used! I ran over and asked if I might borrow it. She said, “Just a minute,” then ran back to me with her typewriter. Perched on top of it was a whole REAM of typing paper! (500 sheets!) Those were surely magic sheets of paper. I felt in that moment that I was flying on them around the world. It has turned out that I was. I have spoken all over the world; Mexico, Canada, England, Scotland, South Africa, Japan, and several other Asian countries.
Then I heard a thump on our small front porch. I ran out and there was a copy of the Baldwin Park Bulletin! They were giving sample copies hoping to obtain subscriptions! Just what I needed!
I only had one pair of flat shoes. There were very few sidewalks in that chicken ranching town, so I cut up cardboard boxes to fit inside my shoes and took extra with me. The streets were made of rocks. The next morning as I was ready to start for the Bulletin office I was shocked. My two babies would not fit into my old baby stroller! They had GROWN.
Suddenly I head Mr. Einstein speak to me about solutions. “Solutions are close at hand.” I ran into our bedroom, grabbed the bed pillow, then my clothes line rope and my shears. I created a second seat right in back of the first one, and pushed off for town. The wheel kept coming off of the stroller, so I just kicked off my shoe and hit it back on with the heel (I have found most men do not understand that system, but we women know the many things we can fix with our shoe.)
At last we reached the Baldwin Park Bulletin office—but what a shock it was to see a BIG SIGN tacked up on the door, “NO HELP WANTED.”
My heart sank, but just then my great friend of the mind newspaper man Ben Franklin spoke to me! BEN asked me what was wrong. I told him, “They don’t want to hire me!” I had had the idea in my mind that they would offer me a salary. Ben laughed and said, “Dottie, IT IS NOT THAT THEY DO NOT WANT YOU – they just don’t have the money to PAY you. Do not ask them for a job, ASK THEM FOR AN OPPORTUNITY!”
I pushed that big heavy door open, pushed the stroller ahead of me and reached in the bag over my shoulder for my high school Press-Pass and samples of Shoppers Columns I had written for the Alhambra High Moor. I asked the Publisher if I might buy space from him at wholesale, sell it for a bit more, and that way give him both a profit and an interesting new local feature. He loved it! My columns filled up quickly. Some of my advertisers asked for position in the column and offered to pay extra for it. What a great idea! I appreciated their ideas and suggestions very much.
We had a small storefront library in Baldwin Park, so I often ran down in the evening to check out every book I could find on sales. But there were no books about women in sales. The Librarian checked the big city, county and state libraries, but could find nothing. In those days women were not allowed to join Service Clubs or open charge accounts without their husbands signatures.
One night I saw a vision on the library shelf – it was my book! It was titled “Never Underestimate the Selling Power of a Woman.” I began writing it that night. I got a list of publishers at the Library and sent my manuscript to 18. They all replied saying, “There are NO women in sales in America – so there is no market for your book.”
Then I read that one of my favorite “Friends of the Mind” Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, was coming to speak in nearby Pasadena! Dr. Peale is the author of “The Power of Positive Thinking!” I had read it many times. I had just had my first business cards printed and thought how I would love to give the very first one to him. His book had inspired and sustained my resolve.
I arranged to borrow my neighbors car and trade baby sitting with her so that she could go bowling with her husband, and off I drove to hear my “Friend of the Mind,” Dr. Peale. After his wonderful talk, I got in the long line of people wanting to speak to Dr. Peale, but when I got up to him my heart was pounding. I think my hand was shaking holding my new business card. Dr. Peale had such a kind smile as he asked me what I had in my hand. I told him about the Shoppers Column. He reached out to my hand, took my card and put it in his inside coat pocket (the one near his heart!). I bit my lip, determined not to cry. Then he said, “We’ll be in touch.”
Three days later the phone rang and it was Doctor Peale! He asked if he could send out a reporter for his Guideposts Magazine to interview me! I almost fell over. When she arrived, the lovely lady reporter from Guideposts asked what I was working on next, so I told her I was working on my book. I didn’t tell her about those 18 rejections.
She wrote just a sentence about my book in the Guideposts article. Then Dr. Peale called me again! He said he was telling my story everywhere he spoke and everyone wanted to buy my book! He asked who my publisher was. I told him about the turndowns because the publishers believed there were no sales women in America. He laughed and said, “Dottie you and I both know that isn’t true.”
Then he told me he was to visit his publisher, Prentice Hall, the next day and would take a stack of his Guidepost magazines with my article which he had titled “What Can One Housewife Do?” with him. The next time he called he said, “Send the manuscript to Prentice Hall. Today!” They not only bought it, they sold the whole first edition to TUPPERWARE! That opened the door to my speaking for all of the conventions of the big direct-sales companies. They all bought thousands of copies of my book.
I kept thinking I would find another book on the same subject by someone else, but I never did. I could hardly believe that I had written the very first book on that subject in the world.
A few weeks later a group of my advertising clients knocked at the door of our little home in Baldwin Park. They came to talk to me because they wanted me to start my own business and were offering me financing. I asked them why they wanted me? They replied, “Because you keep your word.” That is a good thing to remember.
They explained that many more tracts of homes were opening up in Baldwin Park and many adjacent areas. They wanted me to organize a business like “Welcome Wagon” to welcome these new incoming home owners. Then they each gave me an envelope of cash to support my family while I did the organizing. I was so touched.
The first thing I did was to buy a two door Model A Ford. My feet were very happy for that. We called the welcoming service “Hospitality Hostess Service.” Then I ran ads to hire hostesses for each geographical area, and held classes to teach the women how to sell the advertising sponsors we needed. I devised big pieces of paper with geographic sections written on them so the merchants could choose to cover the areas they wanted. Many chose everything we had. Within two years, our Hospitality Hostess extended over most of Southern California. I opened four branch offices in these areas, and employed several hundred hostesses.
Other business opportunities opened up to me. Speakers I met asked me to start a speakers bureau. (You might like to look at our website wwwSpeakandGrowRich.com.) Because I was speaking all over the world, I was asked to write a book on that subject. It is titled “SPEAK & GROW RICH.” It has become the leading book in the professional speaking industry. I organized a speakers bureau to help speakers find good paid bookings. There was no organization for Speakers Bureau owners, so I organized the International Association for Speakers Bureaus, IASB.
Here is one of my favorite quotations – which I found in a book by Amelia Earhart the first woman to fly around the world. I carried it in my wallet for many years. May it help you spread your wings.
If you have a RUNWAY—take OFF!
But if you do not have one, realize it is YOUR OWN RESPONSIBILITY
To grab a shovel and to build one for yourself—And all those who will SURELY FOLLOW YOU.”
My philosophy is to never give up. Help, inspiration, ideas, solutions, are as close to you as the beat of your heart. Be quiet, listen and ask for the opportunity. It is always located close at hand.
About the Author:
Dottie Walters is the author of “Speak and Grow Rich” and the founder of “Sharing Ideas” magazine for speakers. She is also the 2004 Recipient GREATER LOS ANGELES NSA CHAPTER Lifetime Achievement Award and the John Palmer Award for Outstanding Service to the Speakers Bureau Industry From the International Association of Speakers Bureaus. Visit her website at www.SpeakandGrowRich.com.