Leadership skills from 1955

This morning my grandson Joseph walked into my office to say good morning. We talked a bit about the day ahead and then he asked about an award that I had recently hung on the wall. It was something my father received from the men that worked for him in the 1950’s. It reads:

Presented to Frank W. Conte. Christmas Banquet Wednesday, December 21, 1955. From your men of the Utica District Permanent Stainless Steel Corporation. As a token of our appreciation for your kindness and consideration shown to us throughout the past years. For your sincere efforts in aiding us in our times of need. For the somewhat personal disturbances we may have caused you on our road to success. We, the men of the Utica district, express our sincerest best wishes and God’s blessing to you and your devoted wife and children. May God shower his love on you and your family for many years to come. Your Men of the Utica District

These men were like family. Nearly sixty years later I can still name many of them and remember their faces, their wives and children. Mostly I remember the sincere dedication these men had to the company and to my dad. Every Saturday Dad held a sales meeting at his office at 884 Bleecker Street in Utica, NY. He made sure there were tables full of delicious pastries from my grandmothers restaurant and pots of steaming hot coffee ready for them when they arrived. On Saturdays, I went with daddy to the office. I loved hearing him talk and teach his men. This was a sales organization and my father was determined to make each one of his 100+ men, successful. He used to say, “When you can sell better than I can, I’ve done my job!”

Many lessons were learned in that office by the men who worked there but also the little girl who sat in the front row, mesmerized by her fathers ability to capture his audience. I remember there was a lot of laughter in that room and a true feeling of camaraderie amongst the men. The greatest lesson for me was that he truly wanted his men to succeed. He worked hard to give them everything they needed to be great salesman and to prosper. My dad knew their wives and children and he wanted these men to be able to give their families the best of everything. He cared. Because of that honest ability to show his care and compassion, these men had the utmost respect for their leader.

Benny Carcone worked for dad. Benny was a good man, he had six children and a wife at home. One day Benny came in late. Dad let it slide. The next day he came in late again so dad asked him why. Benny explained that their washer had broken and he had to take his wife and the six kids to the laundromat each morning and it took longer than he expected. He apologized and promised he wouldn’t be late again. When Benny arrived home that night, his wife showed him the brand new washer and dryer that was delivered wrapped in a bright red bow. My dad knew that Benny was a good man, a hard working man. Dad wanted to help him succeed and if buying him a washer and dryer was going to get him closer to success, that was what he would do.

I think when you stop thinking of yourself, and your success and begin to think, what can I do to help others succeed, things begin to happen. There were many stories of things dad did for his men. However the greatest gifts he gave them were the tools to be successful. Dad taught them about respect and honor. He taught them about truthfulness and compassion. They were a different breed of salesmen and each one of them became great in their own way.

The Utica district became the number one sales district in the nation for Permanent Stainless Steel Corporation and daddy went on to become a VP of Sales. The 100+ men of the Utica district who learned about sales from Frank W. Conte, went on to become better men, better husbands and fathers, and better human beings.
Yvonne Conte is a nationally recognized Corporate Culture Expert, Motivational keynote speaker and author helping fortune 500 companies create positive corporate climates where laughter and humor is encouraged and productivity soars. www.YvonneConte.com or call 315.727.8668

This article was submitted by a Guest Author of the Above Board Chamber.