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THE YEAR IS 1995. It’s daybreak in Illinois, and Peoria’s most promising young salesperson is already up and preparing for the day. What he lacks in experience he makes up for in enthusiasm. As he gels his hair, he rehearses his pitch in front of the mirror.

“Hello, ma’am. My name is John, and you may think you know popcorn, but you’ve never tasted popcorn until you’ve tried this. If you’d just invite me in, I’d be happy to share a free sample. … ”

I remember my teenage door-to-door sales days as if they were yesterday. ...

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