I am not sure, if Stan F. Smith was his correct name. I met the gentleman in 7th Floor Free Ward of Jaslok Hospital in year 1979. No. He did not present a pleasant sight. His half the Skull had stitches in his bald head and he had been operated for Fileria ( Haathi Panv) but still had one leg hugely swollen and he had difficulty walking with his walking stick.
But one night, he came to my hospital bed and when I was looking for a Bed pan and could not wake up the nurses by ringing the bell – he gave me one. I could not sleep all 8 nights I was operated but I instantly liked the gentleman. We decided to become friends. I learnt that the nurses do not answer to the bells in the night. Stan would personally go to the patients in need of water, bed pans, urine pots or wake up the junior doctors if someone looked serious or showing symptoms of heart attack or panic.
As we both could not sleep, we began taking rounds of the other wards. I had a knee surgery but I was able to walk. Stan had to take some effort but he was game for it. We managed to make friends with JUDOs the Junior Doctors and began having jokes with them. We would do numerology and I was good at palmistry then and would predict love affairs, marriage, private practice etc. what the JUDOs liked to listen and have fun at.
One day I asked Stan what he used to do for a living as he was a patient here for over an year. He said he was a marketing consultant living in Malad a Mumbai suburb. I asked him what does it mean. I was working in a village bank branch and had just become a field officer with Madras Fertilizers after one year of apprenticeship. I was trying to do a British Institute Marketing Management correspondence course. So Stan explained. He said In Mumbai which is country’s biggest retail market – you can sell anything. Anything ! he reinforced and said – Including plain DIRT !
I was astounded. I said how? He said we are in Pedder Road and you can see all the high rise buildings with their luxury apartments around. He said many of them are people who came as paupers from villages and made it rich – Mumbai was Indian Poor man’s American Dream even in those days !
He said, you live in a village and must have observed when people come back from toilets they rub their hands in dirt before washing them. Reason: Toilet soaps are not very common in villages. I said yes. True. He said, People may have become multi-millionaires and may live in these skyscrapers – some of their habits are age old. If you filter dirt, soil of different colours and make small 50 gramme packets and say Toilet Mitti (Soil) – it will sell. He said you can bring in variants, of colours, quantity, packaging and even claim this comes form UP, RAJASTHAN, BIHAR, MP etc. etc. and people would flock to buy it.
People in Mumbai like to buy on footpaths as they are very busy people catching buses, train, taxis all the time. The rich move near seashores and gardens. He said Have a large umbrella and put up a stall near these places and begin selling. He had my attention, Focus, his STATE had my empathy and I was flabbegasted by his FREE Advice to a youngster.
Over the years, we lost touch and 39 years later I am not sure, if I shall ever see Stan but I know one thing he was one hell of a marketeer who UNDERSTOOD People, Their NEEDS, Their purchasing power, Indian Psyche, The Places where they frequent, The places where they will buy. He also advised on packaging and marketing and promotion and he said – word of mouth is the best publicity. Rich people like to bargain the most – allow them to and let them have the last laugh and he would say you would still be reaping profits.
9 years later, I became a student of Marketing Management in Pune and I remembered my friend Stan and narrated this story to one of my Marketing Gurus and he said WOW ! I want to meet this man. But Alas, i had no clue where he was.
Marketing as i learnt is all about Psyche’ / knowing the customer needs, buying behaviour, pattern, purchasing power and then pitching with your product/ service with different creative innovative techniques.
Below is a link I liked about Story telling from TedX shows that I like to watch from YouTube.
let me know which Hormone was activated after reading this story in you? I am usually good at story telling as they are real life experiences but this time I am following the Art and Science of Story telling following an expert. May be, one day I shall appear on YouTube with my stories or well may be, become a Storyteller Paid Speaker. 🙂