Office Mates Aren’t Your Friends

Back in the early seventies, I was the first Northeastern University co-operative education student ever to hold a field sales position at the Paul Revere Insurance Company.  It was an opportunity I created for myself.


The opportunity arose because I was first employed at the company’s home office as a claims examiner during a co-op term and was asked to return.  When I declined the offer, they asked why and I told them the pace of the work was too slow for me and I was interested in a sales position to which they said that they had never done it before, to which I replied, “you have never met anyone like me before.”  Then I made my case that I was a veteran, married, and as old as other entry level employees at the company.


The next thing I knew, I was interviewing at the Paul Revere Insurance Boston Brokerage office where I accepted a position in the sales office.  The position wasn’t defined at first, but it was supposed to be an inside support role.  That changed quickly, however, when I convinced my boss to let me get an insurance broker’s license and get involved with field sales.  Well, I made my sales calls and brought in some nice business.  In fact, during my senior year, second at the brokerage office, I would attend classes in a business suit and cover the Metrowest sales territory on my way home every day.  What made me very proud was that I lead my office in sales that spring and earned straight A’s on my final exams.


After that, I began negotiating for a starting salary to join the office as a full-time employee.  During that process, I was sharing information with a friend who also worked there in another division.   At one point, the negotiations came to a standstill and I was asked to take my boss’s offer or leave it.  My boss let it be known that he had friends.   That’s when it became clear that my “friend” violated my trust and was on my boss’s team to help further his own career!  I was as naïve as today’s young people who share too much information on Facebook.  That’s when I learned: office mates aren’t your friends.


© 2012 Steven M. Stroum

Steve Stroum

Steve Stroum

Steven M. Stroum, founder and president of Venmark International is a seasoned publicist, marketer, and entrepreneur who has been featured in INC Magazine, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, Industrial Marketing, OMNI Magazine, USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe, Boston Herald, The Middlesex News, San Francisco Chronicle, and other media outlets. He has also appeared on numerous radio and television programs, addressed many business and civic groups, and been a guest lecturer at Boston College, Babson College, MIT, and his alma mater Northeastern University.

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