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Flashback

Meet a driven 14-year-old lamp salesman

September 3, 2018 | Laura King-Homan | flashback, history
salesman

The October 1923 issue of Nebraska Power Company’s Flash magazine for employees featured one employee that looked decidedly younger than the rest.

Lawrence Heltzel, a 14-year-old high school student, convinced the company’s sales manager to hire him as a lamp salesman. Struck by the young man’s determination, editors of the magazine asked him to write about his philosophy of selling. Here is an excerpt:

“Selling goods is really a more serious subject than it is generally thought to be. It is the study of human nature, because salesmanship is based upon little fundamentals.”

The young man’s approach must have worked. The article reported that his lamp bulb sales were “very large.” His customers also submitted favorable comments to the company.

“I have come to the conclusion that it is absolutely necessary to have perfect confidence in the goods I am selling, as I can then speak with confidence, which in most cases means a ready sale,” he wrote at the time.

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About Laura King-Homan

Laura King-Homan is the managing editor of The Wire and a communications specialist at the Omaha Public Power District. She has nearly 20 years of print journalism and design experience, including the Omaha World-Herald.

View all posts by Laura King-Homan >

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