A taxi tale for the ages

B3320e60I subscribe to e-newsletters authored by experts in fields ranging from sales and organizational behavior to trend spotting and strategy. I do so because, usually, there's a nugget or two of insight that, I believe, helps make me a better boss (though not a nicer boss).

So, imagine my surprise when I scanned a 'top' sales trainer's e-newsletter that was anything but insightful; unless the executive in question was purposely trying to position herself as an absolute goofball.

Here's the link so you can read it yourself (Download TaxiLady). Allow me, though, to summarize it:

Based in Minneapolis, but frequently in Manhattan for client meetings, our intrepid sales trainer admitted she always walked to meetings. Why? Because, until her clients clued her in, she had no idea that 'if the lights of a Manhattan taxi are on, they already had a passenger. If they were unlit, they were for hire.' That's jaw-droppingly dumb. And, as everyone knows, it's the EXACT opposite.

The sales trainer went on to call this lights on, lights off phenomenon, “New York's dirty little secret.” To which I respond, seriously? Where have you been living? In some cave on a prehistoric Polynesian island? Have you never seen a Manhattan-based movie? Or, such Manhattan-based shows as Seinfeld, Friends or NYPD: Blue? More to the point, New York taxis are not unique in leveraging the sophisticated lights on, lights off strategy (even though you've got it backwards). In fact, I've seen it used in every large city I've ever visited.

It makes me wonder if this sales strategist has yet to figure out Manhattan's complex traffic light system (red for stop, yellow for caution and green for go). I know she prides herself on walking, but do you think she grasps those highly complicated Manhattan walk, don't walk signs? The addition of the seconds remaining feature on some must leave her completely dumbfounded.

Adding insult to injury, the sales leader's story quickly transitions to the issue at hand: sales. Using Manhattan taxis as a metaphor, she wonders if salespeople sometimes find themselves at sea. If so, she says selling is 'every bit as much a skill as taxi-flagging.' Ah, no. Not exactly. I'd say hailing a taxi is a tad easier than closing the deal on a major piece of business.

And, that's when I decided to opt out of this street savvy sales leader's newsletter.

Who, in god's name, would hire a senior sales consultant to provide high-level strategy and advice when she admits to having no clue whatsoever about how a basic, century-old transportation tradition functions? And, when she does finally figure it out, she gets it backwards? This woman is wasting her time in sales. She belongs in Congress.

Without intending to do so, the taxi lady absolutely destroyed her image and reputation. I love metaphors and story-telling as much as the next executive. But, when the author passes herself off as a moron, it's time to find another source of information (if not transportation).

That said, I do wish the taxi lady well in her consulting work. And, I do hope she realizes that once she finally sets foot in a Manhattan taxi, the meter begins running! I'd hate to have finally flag down a cab, arrive at her destination and then be asked to pay the amount on the meter. “Wait a minute, driver. Are you telling me that box has been running all the time?”

There's dumb. There's dumber. And, then there's the taxi lady.

6 thoughts on “A taxi tale for the ages

  1. I found it both pathetic and extremely funny, but I’m very cruel that way.

  2. Always happy to provide a reader service, Peter. Dandy: can you send Peter a private e-mail with the buffoon’s contact information? Thx.

  3. Please, Please, Please — privately email me this sales guru’s information so that I know to avoid her. Unbelievable.
    It will be even worse if this dimbulb ever finds herself in NYC’s outer boroughs like Brooklyn. Yesterday, the taxi commission voted to allow livery cabs to legally pick up street fares, something only yellow cabs. They don’t have any roof lights at all!
    I was walking past Brooklyn Borough Hall when the law passed and gave my own comment (at 1:39) to News 12 Cable: http://www.news12.com/articleDetail.jsp?articleId=316771&position=1&news_type=news

  4. Thanks for the comment. I don’t know what’s worse. The sales trainer’s ongoing ignorance or her ignorance in sharing her ignorance with the world.

  5. This is pretty hysterical. Particularly the part about Congress. So true. There is also the point to be made, too, that if you’re going to hire a consultant, you want someone who is self-motivated and a go-getter. Whenever I have found myself in a city where I was unsure what to do, I just walk right up to someone on the street and ask. If I was thinking of doing business with this person, and they admitted something like this, we wouldn’t get too far after the admission.