Deal Only with Dealmakers

DORIS CHRISTOPHER never dreamed that borrowing $3,000 on a life insurance policy would lead to her making a megadeal with Warren Buffett.

In 1980, when Christopher was 34 and living in Illinois, she began looking for a way to earn money while staying at home with her daughters, who were 5 and 8. She was an avid entertainer, and her friends often asked about her kitchen tools. Trained as a home economist at the University of Illinois, she knew how to find and use the best kitchen utensils.

Selling utensils sounded like a good idea, but how? She mentioned in-home parties instead of opening a store, and her marketing executive husband, Jay, embraced the idea. He suggested that she could redefine the direct-marketing ...

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