Engineer Bill


Back in the mid-1960’s, there was a show on television called Engineer Bill. Ran weeknights on KHJ. Some of you may recall fondly how innocent and fun kids TV was back then. If you young’uns put on rose colored glasses you’all see what I mean. And it was in B&W no less. And lo-def. And kind of cheesy. OK, maybe it wasn’t that great, but I was in single digits back then and I loved watching each Engineer Bill show.

Which brings me to the point of this post. Engineer Bill had an interactive portion of the show called RED-LIGHT, GREEN-LIGHT. It involved he and the kids at home holding a glass of milk. When he said “GREEN LIGHT”, we began to drink the milk. when he said “RED LIGHT”, we stopped drinking. The trick was to try and finish drinking before he said “RED LIGHT” for the final time. And you had to do it without spilling any on you. It was a fun game and it  spilt a lot of milk.

Fast forward to 1988. I’m building up my photography business again (after a catastrophic series of events, yet another blog topic) and it involved making a lot of calls, often referred to as smile-and-dial. It was not uncommon for me to log ten to twelve calls before noon and up to two dozen by the end of the day, which often ran into the early evening. (A side note: self-employed people get to work part-time and also get to decide which twelve hours of the day they get to work.)

In order to stay laser-focused on achieving the goal of any particular call (sales, portfolio appointment, follow-up, pre-production, etc.), I affixed two small red and blue dots to the base of my phone. If a conversation took a turn for the worse I looked at the blue dot to remind me to stay cool and not become the red dot. I am a thermostat not a thermometer, I am in control of how I respond to people, they do not control me. This is a major component of salesmanship, overcoming negativity in a positive way. Easy to say but hard to implement on a consistent basis, especially when staring down the endless twin tunnels of cash flow issues and payment due dates.

Find your own method(s) to help overcome the highs and lows of phone calls for self-employed business professionals. I did and I have to thank Engineer Bill for that.

Good luck!

Michael Stern

My work depicts, appreciates and honors the people who build. Their specialized equipment and stunning challenges are marvels I behold and get paid to interpret. Hope you enjoy this site.

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