Finding Out What You Need to Know

Today I pulled a load of folders from a mobile filing cabinet to be thrown out. I needed room. Wow, there was a lot of stuff which brought back good or not so good memories.

Like What?

People still hate to make commitments! It’s like this in chess AND internet dating! So I suppose it is like this in many other fields, right?

What Stands Out?

Confidence in my opinion and a willingness to study a situation and let ‘er rip. For almost 50 years I have made recommendations, answered questions, and in the end tried to sell things whether it was face to face, through the mail (or email), on the phone, you know, whatever. I’ve had to overcome chess coaches who were truly ignorant. I’ve met women on the dating scene who were just not sure about anything. Because my background was mathematics I’ve had to deal with instructors who taught bogus things to their students  and who would argue with me in front of God and everyone else and use that well-worn cliche, “I am a math teacher,” without knowing that I had been one too. I remember this happening one night in Madison, WI and I wrote out a proof and shoved it under the guy’s door to show him the error of his ways!

To his credit, he read it and apologized to my face. My instincts tell me he didn’t tell all those who were standing around and listening the day before.

It happens in sales, in chess, but not so much in typography, which is more or less an art and therefore susceptible to interpretation of sorts. But my Fine Arts teacher Fr. Catich explained in class, many moons ago, that even there there were guidelines, rules, examples and…

The interesting thing was in selling type to my customers. I really studied this stuff in the evenings. I poured through catalogs purchased in Chicago on Lincoln Avenue. I read about the designers, the type houses, and was astounded at what I found out and therefore COULD and WOULD apply it. I would talk to the salespeople in Massachusetts about Romic, Galliard, and other typefaces. It wasn’t enough to say, “That something was cool and your customers would like it!” They wanted to know about Secret Ingredients, like whatever Harland Sanders put into his fried chicken.

Then Came The Surprise!

After all that jawing on the phone (on their dime since they called me) one guy told me I helped him get a trip to Hawaii (not me, him). What??

It came to be that he was tops in his division in type sales because I made recommendations to him which he passed on to his bosses. They looked up the recommended typefaces, had the film strips made, and sold the “crap” out of them! Wasn’t it possible someone at Compugraphic could have done the same things I did? I suspect that at 5 p.m. they drove home in the rotten traffic near Boston and never gave it another thought.

This is not about Bragging

“They” say no one likes a braggart. But what if you are only taking what they say that way and you aren’t listening (a lost art by the way) to the meaningful part of the content. This shouldn’t even take practice but with some it does.

An Example

Once a chess customer came up to me and asked me if he should get this $9.95 book or a $17.95 book. What can I honestly say? I asked him his rating. It was like 1400 and he saw no shame in that!? I recommended the $9.95 book. He was temporarily shocked and asked why I didn’t recommend the higher-priced book. I just replied “You aren’t ready for that yet!” He got indignant. He bought the $17.95 book to “show me he was ready for it no matter what I thought!” Did that hurt my feelings? Nope, of course not. He was outmaneuvered by his own ego. I have no idea whether he studied it, but I had studied human psychology. His was an easy case.

In Summary

The vast majority (80-90%) of the books on chess that we sell are quite good. Really. Where I discover this is when I take a time out to look through something such as GM Johann Hellsten’s Mastering Endgame Strategy. It’s a wonderful chance to learn about an “ugly” subject, endgames. First, I am only kidding, though many look at the endgame that way because it requires work and an investment of time. It’s 535 pages and weighs like a ton. The retail price is $34.95. But each diagram is loaded with clues. One thought is to look for “saves” or “winning methods” on the other side of the board (Fischer did this). These little incidents show why the so-called Big Boys often win–they really scan the board, and it takes time, but it’s THEIR time and in the end, THEIR win. Usually they make it look easy, but they have just DONE what many of us could do if we could only work out the strategy for the win, and that is what this book is all about. Actually, it’s about $24.50 + $4 for shipping.

The Gambit catalog we recently released is literally CHOCK FULL of books that show how to win. You will come across UNIQUE and WONDERFUL winning methods that will stick with you. Opening books offer so many choices that I don’t feel it necessarily works the same way (memory wise). You can have a copy of this 10 page price list with some thought provoking discoveries for only the cost of an email!

Write to:

Amazon can’t give you useful advice like this because they just copy what is on the flap or the back of the book. No REASON WHY. Web surfers are primarily looking at pictures.


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