THE MOST UNFORGETTABLE
MAN I EVER MET
Let me call him a walking contradiction. He certainly was at least that.
He was short, had crooked teeth, walked like a crab, and you could barely understand anything he was saying. I’ve been thinking about Philip Moh since 1980. Yes - for 41 years. This man told me something 41 years ago I have been unable to forget. I’ll tell you what it was after I tell you about the man.
Philip Moh won awards as Best Salesman of the Year.
Year after year selling life insurance. Tough sell even for a handsome man who speaks perfect English.
Philip Moh outsold every salesman by a wide margin and he worked for the largest Insurance company in the state of California.
His yearly bonuses included a fancy car, Patek Philippe watch, around the world vacation, stock and cash.
I worked for Philip Moh in a unique relationship.
I needed a second job, part-time to earn extra money. My 4th child was about to be born. I answered an Advert in the L.A. Times for a telephone solicitor “with highly persuasive phone skills.”
I may not have known what exactly that was - but I surely knew what it wasn’t.
First off, you can’t be pushy, sneaky, or fast-talking. That’s tough for a solicitor to grasp for some strange reason. Reading from a script too long and badly written shuts down almost everybody in the first ten seconds. I knew that much and that’s all I needed to know.
I dialed the number and he answered.
All he said was this. “If you want the job - just try and sell me a pencil.”
(Try to keep in mind - this was in the pre-computer era. There was no internet either.)
I asked for further clarification but he just sort of yelled:
“You have two minutes to sell me a pencil. GO!”
I shrugged my shoulders and dived in.
“Do you know what cost tens of thousands of dollars? A ballpoint pen so astronauts could write in zero gravity in space. Do you know what costs about a dime and writes upside down and underwater? A pencil.
We all make mistakes because we’re human but if we make our mistake using a pen - we’re screwed! If we use a pencil - we turn it around and use the eraser and instantly have a fresh start - no extra charge!
This simple fact is so obvious we don’t stop and think about it. We all need a pencil handy and I’m here to help you and your family make sure you’ve got one on hand. How many packs can I put you down for?”
I stopped talking.
Philip Moh spoke: “That was 45 seconds. You have a minute 15 seconds left.”
I answered: “Don’t need it. More is less. Short and sweet gets the job done.”
Silence for a second or two.
Philip Moh: “I love it! You’re hired.”
And that’s how we started.
To be a successful salesman, what do you think you would need to have as a very basic starting skill-set? Pleasant appearance? Great speaking skills? The ability to put people at ease?
Philip Moh was none of the above.
I’ve already described his appearance and difficult speech style. What I didn’t tell you is what follows.
Philip Moh told me what had happened to him when he was 5 years old in China.
He fell off a balcony. He landed on the flat of his back.
He was crippled by his injuries and unable to move for a year. But his mother was a special person. She believed it was better to do “something” rather than nothing to help her son. Her efforts were heroic and made all the difference.
Through exercise, discipline, determination little Philip learned to move on his own and finally walk. It was a strange walk but effective.
Philip’s family had no money but a strong work ethic. They moved to America for opportunities. Philip worked his way through school, learned English, won honors, and applied for a job as a life insurance salesman.
“Why Philip? Selling? Why?” I couldn’t see how that would be his first choice.
The insurance company wouldn’t have to take a chance on him failing.
Salesmen are on straight commission. If he wasn’t any good at it, he’d starve.
He’d fire himself, so to speak. He thought they might have reasoned that there was a large Chinese community in California and he had a shot at selling his own people.
Philip Moh was given a chance. That’s all he required.
He read the sales manuals, attended sales meetings, and then bought himself a good suit. In five years’ time, he was winning sales contests and winning awards.
When I first walked into Philip Moh’s office, I was taken aback by his appearance.
I felt uncomfortable. That’s on me. I had to adjust to his speaking style: garbled.
I didn’t know where to look. I pretended to look at his face--in fact--I looked through his head at an object behind him.
Yes. I know--I sound like a monster. I’m just being straight with you.
But then, a strange thing began to happen.
Do you know what CHARISMA really, truly means?
Whatever you think it means--there is a kind of supernatural magic “some” people possess which makes them spellbinding.
Philip Moh had a bucket of CHARISMA.
He practically “had me” at “Hello.”
We hit it off. He hired me.
I left his office with my head spinning. I was dazed.
“What just happened?” I asked myself.
I had no answer. I still don’t have one!
I was hired to obtain leads by making random phone calls. Leads are potential customers.
Philip Moh told me:
“Just get me both the husband and the wife willing to sit down with me for 15 minutes knowing in advance I am an insurance salesman and I will sell them--guaranteed--no exceptions.”
Moh couldn’t do this for himself because it required telephone skills.
He had none!
I gave it my best shot and it worked.
He told me I was the best lead man he’d ever hired.
“How many have you hired?” I had to ask.
“I go through about 200 fails a year. Sometimes more.”
I LOVED THAT!
We hit it off as I said.
After a month of working for Philip, in his office, on his telephone--I asked him
The Elephant in the Room QUESTION.
Philip Moh’s answer to that question is what I’ve thought about for 41 years.
(See how I finally got back to the point?)
Remember what I said at the top?
“Let me tell you what Philip Moh told me. I’ve been thinking about it since 1980.
Yes, that’s 41 years.”
Here is what I asked him and how he answered.
“How do you do it, how do you manage to sell so much insurance to so many people?”
Moh looked at me in a strange way for a minute. Behind his eyes, a magnificent machine was churning, ticking, calculating a reply.
“Okay. I tell you,Terry.” (When he said my name, Terry, it sounded like “Tah-ee”.)
Moh got up from behind his desk and walked over to his door and shut it!
I felt like I was at the C.I.A. chief’s office about to learn who really shot J.F.K.)
The implication was that what I was about to hear was too precious a secret for anybody to know...but me.
I already felt honored!
“People want to believe good things about themselves. My job is to help them believe the best possible thing. A person who pays money month after month for life insurance gets nothing for all their payments. They must be dead for anything to happen! What kind of person buys something like that? I explain. Only a hero does that! A selfless person who truly LOVES others does that. It takes a great person with a great heart to reach out and help their loved ones even after they are dead. If you want to be remembered forever as that kind of hero by your wife and kids--I am there to help them. That is my job. Their job is to become that hero.”
Wow! I went light-headed.
I don’t know what kind of answer I had expected. Not that.
He was very honest with me. He went on to explain.
“I know I make people uncomfortable because of my arthritis, my bad English, my appearance. Yes--I do know that. I also know something more important. Good people want to give a man like me every chance possible. That is my only advantage. Good people sit and listen to me. I am there to help them and allow heroic and unselfish hearts to shine.”
Now, do you understand why he is the most unforgettable man?
I kept thinking, “People want to believe good things about themselves.”
I still think about it. Salesmanship is empowering others to think well of themselves. Wow. Still blows my mind.
Is that why I became one of Jehovah's Witnesses?
Did I want to see myself as heroic and willing to go to prison to demonstrate what an unselfish person I was in serving God?
Are JW's empowered to believe the best about themselves through all those holidays they don't celebrate, through the thankless door-to-door preaching?
Is THAT what was going on? Were we paying the hero’s price for self-esteem?
I still think about that, and now - possibly you will be too.
Being honorable or heroic may well be a talent some are born with while others have to work hard at it.