Let’s Start the Show!

In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create. Management cannot be expected to recognize a good idea unless it’s presented to them by a good salesman.

—David Ogilvy, advertising executive

There are two reasons why so many folks who dream up interesting ideas or inventions will do everything under the sun to avoid actually going out to sell what they’ve invented. First, they feel they don’t know how to sell, won’t do a good job, and will embarrass themselves or be taken advantage of. And second, they fear that if they show their product idea to a stranger at some company, it will be stolen from them. I’ll address the second issue first.

Back in the late 1930s and early 1940s, second-tier movie studios like Universal-International and Republic made B movies, one after another, often with the same recurrent theme:

The kindly, gray-haired inventor, toiling selflessly in his basement laboratory, finally discovers (A) an incredible new death ray military weapon; or (B) a secret device to turn camel dung into hard, brilliant diamonds; or (C) an amazing formula for curing hemorrhoids. Getting wind of the discovery, Otto Heimlich, the evil president of Trans-Global Megalith, sends henchmen into the inventor’s lab to steal (A) the death ray, (B) the secret plans, or (C) the magic cure. The thugs are discovered, a tussle ensues, and the thugs take what they came for—leaving the kindly ...

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