Braille Monitor October 1985
Remarks Delivered by
Jon Deden, Investment Banker Blinder Robinson Company
At the Convention of the
National Federation of the Blind
July 2, 1985
Blinder Robinson: Kind of an interesting name. I meet a lot of people, and they say, "Where do you work?"
I say, "Blinder Robinson."
They say, "Oh yeah? What are you?"
I say, "I'm a stockbroker."
And they say, "Huh? Are all the stockbrokers out there blind?"
And I say, "No. Actually, I'm the first one." And that's why I'm up here today. I believe the NFB has opened up a golden job opportunity for me and, hopefully, for a lot of you.
I'd first like to start out by telling about how I got the job. I think it's a very interesting story. Brian Johnson, who used to live in Colorado and who is now a member of the Illinois delegation, was doing some fund raising for the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado. He happened to be doing random dialing one night, where you dial 798-1111, 1112, and so forth. He happened to stumble upon my sales manager, a man by the name of Mr. George Littman, who happens to have an unlisted phone number. George got to thinking: If this blind guy is so good with telephone soliciting, why couldn't one of them be a stockbroker. And so he took the idea to all the upper hierarchy of the firm.
They said it will never work. "How can a blind person even dial the telephone?"
George said, "This is my project. Let me do it." What he did is that he set up an interview with Diane McGeorge and me. We went out there for the interview, and I could tell that they had never dealt with anyone who was blind before. They were very apprehensive, and they wanted to help us do everything. I could just tell that they hadn't dealt with anybody who was blind. Myer Blinder interviewed me personally, and I decided just to lay it on the line to him and tell him what I had gone through in looking for a job.
I had graduated eight months before with a B.S. degree in marketing. I had been on several interviews to no avail. I couldn't find anything. I simply told Myer that. I told him that I thought if someone was willing to give me a chance, I could do an excellent job for them-- and that I would be willing to give them one hundred percent at all times on the job.
Myer said, "We're willing to give you a chance, but there is one stumbling block that you have to overcome. You have to pass what's called a Series 7 test." That covers all securities -- everything from corporate bonds to government bonds to stocks. You name it. It's on there. It's a very tough test. As much as I hate to admit it, I did fail it the first time. I got a sixty-seven percent, and you had to get a seventy to pass. I took it the second time, and I passed.
Here I am, and I'm not going to say that you have to be a genius to pass it because there are people out there with GED's who have passed the test. If you are willing to cram, you can pass the test.
The job itself is an excellent job. I love it. It's making money talking on the telephone. I am going to tell you that there is a lot of rejection. You're out there hammering on the phone. They don't give you any leads. You have to find your own. I use several lists from the library. I use a list called "Contacts Influential," and there are several lists you can get.
A lot of times you get the phone slammed in your ear. People cuss at you, and the whole works. But all you do is hang up and go on to the next call, because there are people out there who are going to buy from you. But you have to be very, very persistent, and you have got to hammer the phone, you have got to make probably 250 calls a day. I'm not going to tell you that it's easy. It 's tough, especially for the first six months. It's very tough because you are building up your clientele, but if you get somebody to buy from you once, chances are they will buy from you again. Building up your book is very crucial in the first six months to a year. Once you build up a book, you don't have to beat the phone quite as hard because you have established clientele.
As far as on the job, I don't use any special equipment. I use a Braille writer and a talking calculator. It's minimum paperwork, and I hate paperwork, so that's great. I have a secretary, who helps with what paperwork there is. It's probably only about a half hour of paperwork a week. I have a volunteer reader, who comes in from the Red Cross, and she reads me numbers for "cold calls." I do have one slight problem. I can't read the "quote box." But I have three people sitting around me who are always willing to help. I can always grab one of them and get a quote read.
I really didn't think I could make it being a telephone solicitor. I tried it for the NFB for about an hour, and I quit. But we have a very good training program. I always thought that if I believed in the product I was selling, I could be a good salesman.
I believe very highly in our products. We have excellent products. We are the number one dealer in low-priced stocks in the United States. We have twenty eight offices throughout the United States. Besides dealing in low-priced stocks (that is any stock priced under a dollar--primarily "penny stocks") we are also a very diversified investment firm. You name it. We can get it--New York Stock Exchange, government bonds. We can get it. I do believe very highly in our firm and its products.
I urge all of you out there (especially those of you doing telephone soliciting right now for $3.35 an hour) to take advantage of this opportunity. I want to thank you for having me here today.