How to treat people in business (the 1940’s way) because who needs an MBA when my entrepreneurial family said it all.

What I learned about science and medicine I learned the old-fashioned way, through a college degree. What I’ve learned about running a business and how to treat people in business, I learned the REALLY old-fashioned way, from my self-made entrepreneurial family. 

My Great Uncle Arthur Pitman and the other Pitman men (I’m the first Pitman entrepreneurial WO-man!) are the reason you see a fryolator in every fast food restaurant you walk into – it’s that French fry maker with the basket to drain off the oil. Many of those fryolators are emblazoned with the logo “PITCO” – which stands for “Pitman & Company.”

Prior to being in the fryolator business, Pitman & Company was a restaurant equipment business, supplying restaurants from coast to coast in America with machines to make food. As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention, and Uncle Arthur spotted a need.

You see, pre-fryolator, fry cooks were forced to wear super thick, insulated gloves and physically reach into the vat of boiling oil, and extract freshly fried food for customers to eat.

Spoiler alert – even with the gloves, the cooks frequently got burned.

The layers of baked on fat cocooned around each piece of food weren’t exactly appetizing or heart-friendly either.

(Here’s more about the fryolator story for all you fans of early American innovation and family businesses.)

Today, my mom has a decent-sized stash of Pitco sales and marketing materials and other internal documents (including the original patent). Among the documents is a two page sales article, more of a business letter, written by Uncle Arthur in the early 1940’s, presumably to the Pitco sales team, instructing them on how to treat customers. In the letter, Uncle Arthur shared strategies for acquiring and keeping customers, and building trust and loyalty in the process.

The advice is simple, straightforward, and therefore, brilliant.

Here are my three favorite pieces of advice on how to treat people in business:

#1: Provide an unusually high level of value, meaning, so unusual as compared to your competitors, that customers notice.

#2: Communicate with and listen to your customers. 

#3: Anticipate and solve customer problems and needs. 

These should not be groundbreaking business principles, or radical principles of how to treat people in business. Yet, somehow, common sense notions like these get filed under – “Things we think we know but frequently need to relearn.” I know that my file cabinet of those things grows by the day! I mention frequently on my daily podcast for authors Your Daily Writing Habit – I preach that which I need to learn, and relearn. 

For those of you reading this who are in the business of serving others and solving their problems with goods and services, like I am as a book writing coach and ghostwriter – what are YOUR 3 core principles? Take a moment to write them down, and then examine how and where they show up in your business. 

For authors reading this – considering your readers as your “customers,” how can you adapt these principles to your job description as an author?

I am eternally grateful to my Uncle Arthur for writing that business letter/article all those years ago. Since founding my writing business in 2003, I have proudly adopted his ideas of how to treat people in business. My version of the fryolator happens to be an invention to solve book writing challenges, my Book Blueprint/Coaching Program.

Over 80 years later, the Pitmans are still doing business the old-fashioned way – listening to our customers, anticipating their problems, and solving them.

Related Articles: 

The One Thing I Wish My Grandfather Had Left Behind

Why Can’t I Finish My Book?

Demystifying Book Writing Obstacles 


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