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Interested in sales? Here are your role models!

Mary Kay Ash

Founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics (founded: 1963; products: cosmetics; staff: 5000; salesforce: 3 million worldwide in 2011; revenue: US$ 2.9 billion1)

In 1963, Mary Kay Ash watched a man whom she had trained get promoted over her at twice the pay. She left her job and founded her own company, Mary Kay Cosmetics. With a small capital and the help of her son, Mary Kay started a cosmetics company in Dallas, Texas with nine employees. She pioneered the use of sales incentive programmes, and created a structure whereby everyone in the company would benefit from the success of the company. With her strong ethical priciples and keen business sense, the company rapidly grew, turning a profit in its very first year, and achieving a revenue of nearly 3 billion USD in 2011. Mary Kay Ash believed in the golden rule “treat others as you want to be treated,” and operated by the motto: God first, family second and career third.

David Ogilvy

The founder of Ogilvy, Benson and Mather (now Ogilvy and Mather), referred to as “the father of advertising.”

In the 1930s, David Ogilvy was a door-to-door salesman of cooking stoves in Scotland. He was so successful at his job that he was asked by his employer to write an instruction manual for selling the stoves – a piece of work so brilliant that thirty years later Fortune magazine called it “the finest sales instruction manual ever written.”2 On the strength of this manual, Ogilvy obtained a job with the London advertising agency Mather and Crowther, who sent him to the United States in 1938, where he settled. After WWII, with a small capital and the backing of his London employers, Ogilvy started his own advertising agency, which is today arguably the best known advertising agency globally. Ogilvy believed that the function of advertising is to sell, and successful advertising is based on information about the consumer.

Dale Carnegie

“I am very fond of strawberries and cream, but I have found that for some strange reason, fish prefer worms. So when I went fishing, I didn&qapos;t think about what I wanted. I thought about what they wanted. I didn’t bait the hook with strawberries and cream. Rather, I dangled a worm or grasshopper in front of the fish.”

Born into a poor family in rural Missouri, Dale Carnegie got his first job selling correspondence courses to ranchers around the turn of the twentieth century. He moved on to selling bacon and lard, being so successful that his sales territory became the national leader for his company Armour& Co.3. This was followed by a largely unsuccessful attempt at a career in acting, following which Carnegie decided to teach public speaking having discovered the secret to make speakers unafraid of their public, and laying the foundations for the now renowned Dale Carnegie Course. His courses and philosophies have ever since been revered by salespeople.

1Direct Selling News, June 01, 2012: DSN Global 100: The Top Direct Selling Companies in the World
2Wikipedia: David Ogilvy (businessman)
3Dale Carnegie. How To Win Friends and Influence People. Simon and Schuster (Buy it on

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