My Worst Summer Job: David Rosenberg on Boosting Fertilizers and Learning How to Sell

My Worst Summer Job: David Rosenberg on Boosting Fertilizers and Learning How to Sell

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Do they slam doors in my face? Absolutely. It’s like baseball; you have to strike out a lot to score anything ‘

Author of the article:

Rosemary Counter, Special for Financial Posts

Publication date:

August 10, 2021 • 22 minutes ago • 3 minute read • Join the conversation

Economist David Rosenberg remembers his job selling fertilizers door to door when he was in college. Photo by Gigi Suhanic / National Post Illustration

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David Rosenberg is known the world over for his financial intelligence and investment flair, but did one of the world’s leading economists hone his skills over a summer selling poop? fertilizer? Here’s how a stinky summer concert, Rosenberg, taught him the secret to selling just about anything. As told to Rosemary Counter

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In the summer of ’82, between the third and fourth years of college in Toronto, I was working at a family business called Metro Weed Control, spraying weeds. As long as it wasn’t raining, I was given a list of a dozen houses to go to with my spray apparatus, where I walked up and down the front yard and then up and down the back yard in the scorching heat. . That was all the work.

My “uniform” was a pair of shorts, a dirty T-shirt, and a baseball cap, probably because a real uniform would have sucked. It sucked anyway, to be honest. I would come back to my roommates and they would yell at me, “Rosie, go straight to the shower!”

Just thinking of the smell sends shivers down my spine.Chemicals were definitely not the safest in the world, and to this day I still wonder why I don’t have two thumbs on my left hand and six fingers on my right foot. I remember being very grateful for the soap that summer.

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Then, in the middle of the season, a salesperson left and the owner asked the sprinklers if anyone wanted to take on a salesperson role. He had both hands in the air so fast, saying “I! I! I! “Now instead of spraying weeds, I’d go door-to-door selling spring and fall fertilizers and sprinklers. I’d start with flyers in mailboxes and then go knocking on doors. These were the days before the internet; I couldn’t look to nobody or Google’s “sales techniques.” I had to do my own makeup on it. I also received a commission for each sale, which was a great incentive, and I soon became their best salesperson.

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My strategy was always to start by explaining that I was a summer student at the University of Toronto, just a starving student working to survive. It is good art to suggest that someone needs weed control without offending them and implying that their lawn is far worse than the neighbors’. Did the doors slam shut in my face? Absolutely. It’s like baseball; you have to strike out a lot to be able to score something.

My most memorable sale was right after the World Cup; Italy had won. I saw this older man on his knees by his house picking dandelions by hand. I said, ‘This is not something a man your age should be doing.’ Now I realize that he was not that old, probably my current age, so no wonder he said, “No, no, no. I do things on my own.” I didn’t know what to say so I said ‘Long live italy! ‘

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He said, ‘Are you Italian? Come into my house! Now, I am not Italian, but recently I had seen The Godfather, so before I knew it we were sipping homemade red wine at her kitchen table. He bought sprinklers and fertilizers for three years, breaking every record in the book. The only problem was, I was too drunk to drive and had to walk home for an hour and a half.

That summer I realized for the first time, at age 22, that I had the gift of communicating and convincing someone to do something that they would not otherwise do. You are really selling yourself and your ideas, which is true whether you are selling stocks or junk. That’s the good word for it.

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    My Worst Summer Job: David Rosenberg on Boosting Fertilizers and Learning How to Sell

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