Cold Calling, Part Two: Drinking With the Boss

by Derek Loosvelt | May 27, 2010

After my previous post I started thinking about other summer jobs I'd had before I graduated college and remembered that cold calling was a major part of another position I'd held. Between my junior and senior years of college, I worked as an assistant to a financial advisor (broker) at Shearson Lehman Brothers (before Lehman was Lehman, it was known as Shearson Lehman/American Express and before that it was Shearson Lehman Hutton—anyone remember those commercials: When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen?—and before that it was known as Lehman Brothers Kuhn Loeb). Anyway, point is a good part of my job was cold calling folks (again, in a suburb of Detroit), trying to convince them, this time, to invest in municipal bonds—at least, that was my pitch; the larger goal was to eventually help land them as a client (of one of the two brokers I worked for).

The job was an interesting one (even if cold calling was by far the least interesting part) and helpful in eventually landing a job as a financial analyst for an investment bank upon graduation. However, I don't recall too many specific aspects or occurrences of the job other than these three: (1) The interest rate of the municipal bond that I pitched was 7.5%; (2) One of my opening lines when cold calling (after I introduced myself and said the name of the company I was with) was, "I trust you're familiar with the firm?"; and (3) During the last week of my job the brokers I worked for as well as the branch manager wanted to take me out to lunch and so we met at a nearby restaurant on a Friday, I believe, about noon. I don't remember why but the three of them had all arrived at the restaurant about 10 minutes before I did and when I arrived and sat down I noticed that they all had cocktails in front of them, some sort of vodka concoctions, I assumed. The two brokers I worked for were in their early 30s, the manager was about 50 and I was 18 (the drinking age in Michigan was and still is 21 but I did have what I thought was a halfway decent fake I.D., as you inevitably do if you've spent more than a month at college). I didn't want to feel left out, so I ordered a vodka tonic, too, giving the waiter my fake I.D. when he asked for it. The brokers and manager didn't say a thing when I ordered, as if my ordering an alcoholic beverage was no big deal, and we continued our conversation. A few minutes later, the waiter brought my drink and asked the other guys if they wanted a refill on theirs and one of them said, speaking for all three, "Sure, bring us another round of lemonades."

Which leads me to this piece of on-the-job advice I've doled out ever since: When in doubt, order lemonade.

Filed Under: Finance


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