I vividly remember the first time I participated in a truly persuasive business presentation.

I grew up working in my family’s wholesale distribution business. My father founded the business in the basement of our house, and the company grew to be a large, very successful regional operation. After graduating from college, I joined my father full time, and we worked together for 17 years. His charge to me was “bring us into the next generation.”

At one point, I had responsibility for sales, purchasing, and data processing and was working on improving our purchasing systems. We had recently upgraded our computer system to the IBM 360 series, and I wanted to move to an online, interactive purchasing process. IBM had a relatively new ...

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