Career Detour: Through a Scary House

In 1968 there was a brief interruption in my radio career. I left my job at KSTT to sell mutual funds for a company called Investors Diversified Services (IDS). After a few months of trying to sell funds, I found the training boring, the job generally uninteresting. As a result, I didn’t get many people to invest. It didn’t take long to realize I should have stayed in radio. However, there was one shining moment in as a mutual fund salesman that I will always remember.

There was an old lady who lived in a big Victorian style home, from which she ran a successful photography business. The house looked like the ones you see in horror movies, and it was just three blocks from the IDS office. Maybe, because it was a scary looking house, nobody from the firm had ever called on her. I decided to give it a shot. victorian homeShe was very nice, and invited me into her home to hear what I had to say. After I had explained the benefits of investing, she left the room convinced, and I thought she was going to get her check book. In a few minutes she returned carefully carrying a well-worn shoe box. We sat down at her kitchen table, and after sorting out the coins and currency which we suspected might be collectible, such as silver certificates, and old coins with pictures of Indians, we packed up the remaining loot. She and I drove to the IDS office with the shoe box, stuffed with over $23,000 in currency and coins. $23,000 in “today’s money” would be over $180,000. When we piled the money onto one of the big conference tables and proceeded to count it, several fellow mutual fund salespeople watched in awe. After that, I went several weeks without another significant sale, despite using my powerful selling line, “You don’t want to buy any mutual funds do you?” Followed by, “Do you know anybody who does?”

It wasn’t long before I realized finance wasn’t my forte, and I returned to KSTT to continue my career in broadcasting. From this brief career change, I learned a valuable lesson: “Do something you love, something that is fun for you, and you will have a better chance of success.” My experiences in radio are priceless, and could never fit in a shoe box.


Originally published 11/15/2015 as “What’s in That Shoebox?”

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