IF IT WEREN’T FOR THEM
I wonder where I would be in this Company today if it weren’t for them.
If Bob Dillard, then District Manager in Philadelphia, hadn’t been the first P&Ger I met in the interviewing process. I couldn’t believe the interest he showed in me. I don’t think I had met anyone who combined so self-evidently the qualities of professionalism and character.
If Jim Cochran, then head of Commercial Production, hadn’t been the first person on my interview panel in Cincinnati and, can you believe it, he was giving me advice on how to improve my interviewing skills as I was leaving his office to meet two other P&Gers. He told me he wanted me to join P&G. And he gave me advice on how to make that more likely to happen.
I wonder where I would be in this Company if I hadn’t had Ralph Browning as my first Brand Manager who more than willingly, in fact enthusiastically, let me take on tasks that I thought would await 2 to 3 years of experience, and he worked with me, often long hours into the night, to help me do them well. He introduced me to advertising long before some other folks were introduced. He encouraged me to go to New York to learn from agencies. He really cared about my learning.
I wonder where I would be in this Company if it weren’t for my first Associate Advertising Manager, Jack Clagett. Jack believed in me – in many ways, more than I believed in myself at that time. He convinced me I should succeed in a big way, and he helped me, sometimes criticizing, but always in a way that I knew was intended to help me grow and succeed. He came to Nashville twice when I was on Sales Training, not so much to critique store sets or sales presentations, but to make sure that I felt connected to this Company and learn whatever he could teach me.
I wonder where I would be in this Company if my first Brand Promotion Manager (he would be a Marketing Director today) had not been Ed Artzt. He was a taskmaster, but far more than that, he was a teacher. He spent hours and hours with me, going over research analysis and how more information could be drawn from them. He was patient on proposals that I knew he didn’t agree with, but he let me come back, not just once or twice, but 3 or 4 times. And he even went on one that I doubt if he agreed with, but he knew the risk wasn’t large. In fact, it didn’t work, but I learned from it and, more than that, I was stimulated by it to believe that this Company would allow people to learn and try things and that management really wanted to help them learn. What a powerful impression. I wonder where I would be in this Company if Ed Lotspeich had not been my first Advertising Manager. I didn’t see Ed that often, but I didn’t need to. His character and capability were quickly conveyed. His understanding of advertising and its principles was tremendous. That was conveyed in some short meetings and many eloquent memoranda. But equally important was simply Ed’s stature as a man of principle and character.
I wonder where I would be in this Company if I had not come to know several senior Sales people when I was on Sales Training who told me about the extraordinary lengths to which the Company had gone to help families that were in trouble. They converted the value of respect for the individual into a reality for me. They conveyed to me that the Company stood behind its words.
I wonder where I would be in this Company if Jack Hanley, then Vice President of the Soap Division or, some years later, John Smale, hadn’t taken often as little as 5 or 10 minutes to say something to me, the specifics of which I can’t remember, but the net of which was to convey confidence that I had a role to play in this Company.
I don’t mean these short recollections to suggest that “all was right” with the world that I lived in. I had proposals rejected. I had tough days ... days when I wondered whether I would make it ... but was it ever stimulating. And challenging. Above all, I knew these people really cared about me; about my learning; about my ideas. There was no doubt about that whatsoever, and it meant a great deal to me.
I could go on with these “if it weren’t for them” stories and they would not be just about people for whom I worked. No, equally, there are the people who have worked alongside me. And there are people who have worked for me, dozens, indeed hundreds of them who, as I experienced and admired their work and their commitment, taught and inspired me.
Why do I review these experiences? I do it in order to emphasize the life-changing difference we can make for each other, especially in the influence we have on people in the earlier years of their careers.
It will be our relationships with them, the expectations we set, the learning we provide, the caring we exhibit; it will be this and more which will have a hugely determining role on their future with Procter & Gamble and, if they are like me, on their entire lives.
It is an enormous responsibility and opportunity each of us has.
May we do it as well as the best of the people who did it for us. Let us never forget that if it weren’t for them, we might not be here today – and, assuredly, we would not have become all that we are.
Let us so conduct ourselves that others will place us among that group they think of when they step back to consider – “If it weren’t for them”.
John E. Pepper