One No Closer to a Yes: How to Be Intrepid and Sell Cutco Knives

One summer during college, I sold $10,000 worth of knives. It was kinda crazy. When I started selling knives, it was to my family and friends - sorry, you guys! - but eventually, through their referrals, I took my knives to complete strangers' homes, gave them demonstrations and tried selling knife sets to them. Can you imagine inviting a complete stranger to your home who is packing a bunch of knives? (Ok, even if that stranger is pretty innocuous, like me at age 19?)  Everyone was impressed when the Cutco knife cut through a thick rope with one smooth swipe, when their own weak steak knives were sawing away, reducing the rope to shreds. Everyone was impressed when I cut a penny into one long spiral with the Cutco kitchen shears. That is cool, but not cool enough for a lot of people to reach into their checkbooks. I walked away many times having driven to some far-flung suburb without orders for even a single knife.

I had to get through hearing no after no - or getting the phone hung up on me - to even get an appointment just to show someone the knives. I mean, who really is in the market for knives? Who is willing to drop $500 on a new set of knives?

These folks exist, but you have to find them.

Selling door-to-door is something I'll never want to do again. It's really rough, lonely, and in this case, certainly soul-deprecating work. But I'm glad that I tried it because I learned the power of persistence. The more people I called, the more appointments I got, and the more knives I sold. It held true week after week.

I heard no plenty of times. But to find a yes, often you have to get past hearing no.

This is a lesson I remember today.

The facts:

  1. I didn't get into the finalist round in the 2012 I Am Intrepid Contest. If I'd have gotten 300 more votes, my entry would have gotten into the top 10. Maybe if I had a few more weeks to campaign or if I'd gotten my link on TV (yes, I tried that), that might have helped, too.
  2. My work isn't going to be read by awesome travel writer, Pauline FrommerThat's disappointing, of course. 
  3. I appreciate all who voted and who encouraged friends to vote for my entry, too. We got to 212!
  4. I am grateful that Mike Corey picked my entry to highlight in the fourth week of the contest. I don't think I'll get over him reading my story.

I didn't get what I wanted this time exactly, but I look at it this way: it's one no closer to a yes.

Congratulations to the I Am Intrepid contest finalists! I'm rooting for Jenny Marsden, fellow poet with a great and moving entry!

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