Monday, June 30, 2008

Lessons from a legend

Interesting tidbit in this Brantford (Ontario) Expositor article about Hillier Architecture founder Bob Hillier's speaking engagement last week at Apotex Pharmachem, Inc.

In the article, Hillier talks about his quest to find a speaker for his graduation dinner at Princeton University, where he was class president in the late 1950s after Frank Lloyd Wright, who he had secured to be the speaker, died two weeks before the ceremony. Without answering machines or e-mails to help him, Hillier picked up the phone and called Jimmy Stewart, Harry Truman, and even Winston Churchill, who was visiting the U.S., to no avail. "That's how I learned cold calling," Hillier said. He eventually landed Truman's defense secretary to be the speaker.

Hillier merged with RMJM Design last year, creating a megafirm with more than 1,200 architects in 16 locations around the world, so his methods clearly worked.

While countless articles and books have been written about the value of cold calling, Hillier's speech reinforces the value of using your inherent sales ability and entrepreneurial spirit to build your business. When times are tough, you may have to expand your network if your existing clients don't have work for you. If Bob Hillier can call on Harry Truman, you can probably get in touch with the would-be client two towns over.


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