I know what you’re doing,

williedynamite_590w“I know what you’re doing, and I don’t want any part of it.”

That is what I found myself thinking after a recent meeting with one of my vendors.  During the meeting, I was accused of not ‘selling’ their products.

Google definition of ‘sell’

1  give or hand over (something) in exchange for money.  “they had sold the car”

2 persuade someone of the merits of.  “he sold the idea of making a film about Tchaikovsky”

  • betray someone for one’s own financial or material benefit.
“the clansmen became tenants and the chiefs sold them out”


To ‘play yourself’ is to sell out.  I believe in the importance of knowing thyself, remembering history and avoiding becoming a numbers only, selling machine.  When you lose focus, everyone suffers.

“They tried to become all things to all people.”  “Why are you line extending your brand when you know that line extension is going to hurt you in the long run?” I asked one manager.  His answer, “If I don’t make my number this year, I’m not going to be around for the long run.” (1)

“I enjoy the feeling of ownership, choice and being able to comfortably offer my customers
products of merit beyond gimmicks.”

Blaxploitation films of the 70s are a fascinating genre marking a divergence from typical Hollywood stereotypes.    Superfly, Dolemite, Cleopatra Jones, The Mack, Willie Dynamite… are soul-charged, super-sampled, disco era gold. The black hero, often, anti-hero and female leading roles were a first for audiences. Salacious archetypes expressed underlying frustrations and captured audiences attention with this short lived cinema style.  The music was funky and the threads? Ridiculous. I used Superfly in my college film class to illustrate the underdog becoming a self destructive anti-hero. 80’s and 90’s rap sample these movies’ soundtracks and take a page from their script.  The often repeating theme is self destructive power grabbers who end up destroying their community in an effort to gain power and money to be able to stand up to ‘the man’ and get to a better place. It doesn’t work.

“You better check yo self before you wreck yo self ” – Ice Cube

I drew up on my understanding of this film genre to explain what I was seeing in my business world.

Do you know what the difference is between a pimp and a whoremaster?
A pimp has style.


After a meeting, I received this follow up email.  The word ‘free’ set me off.  [Names have been omitted.]

Dear ______ and Kevork,
Thank you both for your time yesterday.
As discussed, please find below a link to PDF that shows the different [company name] Merchandising options:
Let me know which pieces you will be able to use and we will send them to you for free.
If you have any questions, please let me or Xxx know.
Best regards,


My response [Names have been omitted.]


For free?  FOR FREE!  No.

Have you heard of Angry Birds?  It is a very popular game that can be downloaded for free and played on your phone or computer.  I’ve also heard of something called a ‘free lunch.’  Unfortunately as the saying goes, ‘there is no free lunch.’  Angry Birds is also not ‘free’ as, behind the scenes, there is a manipulation of one’s personal data.  Tracking of location, (geo-data) frequency and type of communication and other bits of information are carried off for analytic marketing purposes.

I will not accept them for free.  I will pay for them or not receive them at all.  I feel that accepting them would be tacit support of the new expansionist marketing efforts.  I cannot see how receiving these ‘free’ displays would not cost me another lecture about, “great, hot, best-selling products” that are “great, hot, best-selling products” because they are being forced down the throats of retailers.  I have decided, actually, to not receive them or any other items.  That feels great to say because it is something that heavy handed marketing wants me to forget that I have – choice in the matter.  It almost feels as good as when you knock out three of the pigs in angry birds, but I digress.

I’m tired of being promised the fallacy of perpetual motion.  Marketing campaigns are fine, but

”A motto I always liked was:   Don’t create fashion; preserve culture instead.” (2)

I do not find amusement at having my opinions ignored and being given the ‘company line.’  If it is the desire of [company name] to use peer pressure and sales gimmicks to sell cigars than I am no longer interested in carrying them.

I have not ordered since October 2013 and will no longer order.

I hope your efforts will result in success for your [other retailers], but I am not interested.  I am not impressed with the same silly re-branding style of Old Spice and the seasonal and blatant advertising of a 7-11.

I have grown up in this industry, have a B.B.A in marketing and continue to study it as the ‘philosophy of sales.’  I enjoy the feeling of ownership, choice and being able to comfortably offer my customers products of merit beyond gimmicks.  I also don’t acknowledge peer pressure, don’t care about ‘popularity’ and definitely don’t appreciate being bullied.

When you don’t follow your own rules and guidelines … then … everything you do and say is suspect.

My decision is final.


quote(1) Focus page 78 Al Ries Collins

quote(2) Zino Davidoff  Davidoff Legend – Myth – Reality page 228 Dieter H. Wirtz Econ


I have been influenced by a few things.  Although I haven’t read the latest book:  this review adroitly summarizes the nerd-chic of it all.  http://www.newstatesman.com/2013/10/malcolm-gladwell-backlash-pseudo-profundity

Having laughed until I cried at the stories on 27b/6, I’ve been reminded of the writing I’ve used throughout my life.  If I could give one piece of advice to my younger self about the most powerful tool in the world, I would assure myself that being able to communicate effectively and efficiently – being eloquent is something to constantly hone.

Several documentaries show the mind control that is in effect when a woman will sell her body and turn over 100% of the proceeds to a man.  These documentaries (American Pimp, Pimps Up, Hoes Down) are somewhere between sad and entertaining.  It is the world’s oldest profession, 2nd to telling stories.

11 thoughts on “I know what you’re doing,

  1. Touchez! K man!! I totally respect the way you believe in what you are doing…the only business worth doing is when it brings something more meaningful to you than just the bottom line…It’s also probably what keeps your long time clients coming back. way to go!

  2. Jeru’s skills in the video make The Man with the Iron Fists look like a noodle soup commercial. Plus you’ve got knowledge like:

    Always faking moves, never, making moves
    Asses shake, bottles pop, the government is breaking down you fools
    You work all week and give the devil back his loot for jewels
    And the steak on your plate is filled with chemicals
    Still, brothers leave brothers all battered and bruised
    On the streets, won’t see snakes on my feet
    The race is on, but I won’t compete
    In this competition, because I have a greater mission
    I hope that you listen
    Knowledge wisdom and understanding brings, long life
    And health, think anything else and ya playin’ yaself

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