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Denny's Daily Zinger: “Always see a salesman once.” — Franklin Watts

May 22, 2014 By Denny Hatch
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Children's book publisher Frank Watts was my second boss in business. Many of his aphorisms—including the title above—are hard-wired into my DNA.

What triggered this piece was the withdrawal by two distinguished, high-achieving commencement speakers at Rutgers University and Smith College.

The student body and faculty members vociferously complained. The two speakers—Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice—said the hell with it.

Firebrands in My Teen Years
I went to Phillips Academy, Andover, 1949-1953—the height of the Cold War and the Korean police action.

The entire country was virulently anti-Communist.

Twice, the school invited wild-eyed revolutionaries to speak at assemblies. Attendance was required.

"Let the kids hear them firsthand," was the philosophy, "and they can make up their own minds." So we heard:

  • Earl Browder, former chairman of the U.S. Communist Party
  • Bayard Rustin, human rights activist and rabble-rouser.

Browder rambled. The audience was attentive. The questions hostile.

Rustin was mesmerizing. At the end he said quietly, "Let us pray." Every head snapped down—even atheists and agnostics.

I am sick of radio and TV talk shows where babbleheads read the papers, watch the news on television and then pontificate on events 8,000 miles away.

Same thing with these ditzy college kids and faculty, who preferred to stick their fingers in their ears, shut their eyes and shriek gibberish.

"I never learned anything while I was talking," said Larry King.

Always see a salesman once.

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