My top 5 lessons from hard times

4. 'Show' is usually better than 'tell'

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    In this undated photo provided by Heritage Auctions, actor John Wayne's American Express card is shown before it was auctioned off last month. When American Express was looking to get into the credit-card business, Dashew enhanced his pitch by having prototype American Express cards made up with the executives' names and the date they became a member. The company not only chose his company to help launch its card, it incorporated his "member since" idea.
    Heritage Auctions/AP/File
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In 1950, Diner's Club released the first multiuse credit card. By the early 1960s, American Express was poised to compete. My former employer, Addressograph-Multigraph, had brought all its big guns to land the order to create the first American Express credit card. Here was my small firm fighting the largest competitor in our industry for the business of one of the most prestigious companies in the world.

Having worked for my competitor, I knew their sales presentation would be professional. We had to do something more. I had my staff find out which American Express executives would be at our presentation and had a card made for each one with the familiar traveler's check artwork but individualized with their name and an account number imprinted on each one. The added touch was "a member since ..." designation (yes, that was my idea). I can still see the faces of the American Express executives who were at the meeting. We got the order.

Don't tell potential clients or employers what you can do for them. Show them – in the most dramatic, creative way you can.

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