What could National Pretzel Day possibly have to do with professional growth? It turns out – a great deal.
The year is 1986. I am an intern at Philadelphia Magazine. I am living the dream. CP shades clothing with shoulder pads, hair choppy and heavily highlighted, commuting via Septa (sometimes a ride from my Dad) and feeling extra lucky for the gene pool in which I am swimming. Let’s be honest, I really wanted to work in the Promotions Department. As the youngest cousin I was given a hard “no” – I was disappointed. The coveted Promotions internship would come the next summer.
This year was my year to learn Circulation. My leader was a woman named Pauline Gramiack. And this year, the Year of Our Lord 1986, to keep this all in pre-historic context, was one in which circulation came via subscription and via newsstand sales. And, the only way to evaluate and identify growth opportunities in newsstand sales was to sit in dark, dusty spaces within each distributor’s warehouse and read the microfiche (please google it – you would not believe me if I explained it anyway). And so I did. I was interested in the outcome, I was going to lift those numbers, something fierce. I had Don Henley and Bruce playing in my head – this was serious. Simply put, the amount of magazines moved was dependent on the numbers of magazines delivered to newsstands. And that number was impacted by the men (ya that is what it was, again – please not now) who drove the trucks.
I identified my target. I asked to have time with these truck drivers. I was invited to bring in breakfast. BINGO.
I gathered all the Philly foods I could – Tastykakes and Pretzels to name a few. I was all fired up. Ready to bring on my charm and my call to action. I was young and full of energy. To put it a slightly differently – I was young and I had a lot to learn.
What I learned from the experience: Always ask questions. These may have included – who else will be with me that morning? How long will I have to present? How often do the drivers participate in these events? And the big one, Will any other magazines be in attendance?
How I learned this: I showed up with dozens of pretzels (with mustard, obviously) served old school aka full of street germs on cardboard, in all of their Philly-glory. This a gift from, and on behalf of Philadelphia Magazine. Ski Magazine arrived with oversized t-shirts. And Penthouse Magazine – well they had Pets. You know stunning, scantily clothed women there to flirt their magazine into increased newsstand sales.
And so, that is it folks. That is how National Pretzel Day will always be a not so subtle reminder of the process of learning. And, how we take bruises as a part of our growth. Of how EQ includes knowing what to ask and knowing when the holy Philadelphia soft pretzel is about to be cast aside in favor of some curvy and captivating pet.