The Corporation as an Incubator
If a formal mentoring program is not part of the corporate culture, rethink itJanuary 3, 2013 By Denny Hatch
In the 2012 presidential campaign, every time President Obama pounded the podium and demanded, "We must invest in job training programs" it turned my gut into knots.
I saw this as expensive big government overreach—getting into areas that are better handled by people in the workplace.
It seems to me that the logical place to look for filling jobs is within, just like the farm system in Major League Baseball.
Let Me Share With You a Story ...
In 1964, I was out of a job. My skills and experience were thin: a little bit of book publicity and promotion and some book sales—traveling the country for a publisher selling books to retail stores, wholesalers and libraries and belting down vodka martinis with fellow book salesmen.
A friend of mine named Lew Smith worked for Grolier Enterprises, a mail order company that was bringing in buckets of cash by selling Dr. Seuss books to kids in classrooms all over the country, using teachers and parents as the conduits.
The key copy drivers: implicit fear and greed. (i.e., "If your students can't read, you have failed as a teacher. What's more, without this basic skill, the kids will never get a decent job and later in life won't have enough money to take care of their parents when they are old").
With Grolier looking to expand its business, Lew hired me to see if I could expand its business from the classroom to libraries and school libraries.
This idea did not work out. But luckily for me at that moment in time Grolier management decided to start a paperback book club. It was to be for young children in classrooms in direct competition with Scholastic and a small upstart called the Willie Whale Book club.
I was summoned into the office of Grolier's president, Elsworth Howell, whose real love was Howell Book House, a line of technical books on breeding and training show dogs. Howell himself not only owned purebred dogs, but also was a regular judge at the annual Westminster Kennel Club championships at Madison Square Garden. He was a fascinating man.