“Hi. My name is Ken. Would you like to buy a knife?”

A reader from Austin asked me what I considered to be the best training for a Producer.

I rolled back through the years to see what I thought was most valuable to me:

Was it Company and General Management?

Was it NYU?

Was it being in the ensemble of The Fantasy Spectacular at Carousel Dinner Theater?

The truth is, it was all of those things.  Throw all those experiences in the blender known as life, put it on puree, and pour yourself a Producing smoothie.  Mmmm, mmmm, good.

But there’s one secret ingredient in my smoothie that I recommend you all try (in fact, I recommend it much more than singing “Your Cheatin’ Heart” on stage at the Carousel Dinner Theater).

Sell knives.

In 1991, Massachusetts was in a recession and jobs were scarce for us college kids home from school so I responded to an newspaper ad from Vector Marketing and got the gig!  My first marketing job!  Of the “finest cutlery in the world”.

And that’s when I first learned that marketing really meant sales.

I was an old fashioned salesman, but I was being trained (without pay and with a mandatory $99 fee for a sales kit) by one of the largest direct marketing firms out there who had spent millions perfecting how to sell.

I learned how to pitch, cold call, close a sale, find leads, advertise, negotiate, and more.  I learned that back-end incentives and commission drove me (and the rest of the team) to work harder.

And I learned how believing in a product made it much easier to get out of bed in the morning.

So if you’ve never sold Cutco or Mary Kay or Tupperware, give it a shot, or let someone who sells this stuff pitch to you.  See what tips you can pick up for talking to investors, or pricing your tickets, or . . .

. . . here’s an idea for someone looking to create the next Vector Marketing:

We hire reps to hold ticket parties, where instead of Tupperware, we sell Broadway tickets to a whole different bunch of shows at a discount.

I wonder if I’ve got my old Cutco training manual . . .


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.