Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
Salespeople can often think they're clever.
Or, rather, that they should act that way.
Too many believe they know exactly how to be your instant friend.
Too many don't realize they come across as a hybrid of doofus and nincompoop.
In these days of instant digital judgment, it's easy to ignore them, of course.
So I was moved by a tale told by David Brunelle, Director of Engineering for Starbucks.
He received an email from a salesman, read it and then -- I'm guessing here -- his eyebrows and lips twisted in disgust.
The email began with painful salesperson-speak:
Hi, David, It's great to see you've been promoted 4 times at Starbucks and have risen from the ranks of Web Developer in 2013 to now Director of Product Engineering. And to do it after your served time in the Navy. Congrats!
Personally, I'd have already girded my critical faculties at the apparent recitation of Brunelle's resume or LinkedIn page.
Would I be moved to hear this slimy stranger's congratulations? Only to deleting the email.
Yet Brunelle is made from politer stuff. (It must be your time served in the Navy, David. Congrats!)
The next line of the email, however, tested his patience:
I can't help myself, what's your go-to order at Starbucks? I like my women like I like my Starbucks coffee order: Tall, Blonde, Americano...
Yes, Brunelle could have pressed delete. Instead, he chose not only to reply, but to make that reply public.
It was startlingly polite, in the circumstances:
You lost me with this line. Tech can be a challenging place for women. Your statement perpetuates the mindset that women are here for our entertainment. I don't believe that to be true. This type of statement also makes a few dangerous assumptions: that I'm heterosexual and will relate to the objectification of women, that I'm cisgender and haven't personally been objectified/alienated, and that I'd feel comfortable objectifying women behind closed doors.
He was just warming up. Next came:
One of my company's values, that I am deeply committed to upholding is 'creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome'. I'm also dedicated to increasing diversity in technology. In order to increase the number of women and minorities in this field, we need to foster an environment where everyone feels safe and supported.
Perhaps, though, it was the last line that expressed -- with bare restraint -- Brunelle's true disgust:
It doesn't seem like our values align.
Here's a blatant example of sexism in an email from a salesman this morning:-- David Brunelle (@davidbrunelle) July 22, 2019
"Also, I can't help myself, what's your go-to order at Starbucks? I like my women like I like my Starbucks Coffee order: Tall, Blonde, Americano..."
Men: Don't do this. Here is my reply... pic.twitter.com/d8uHkxq9St
Of course, it would be instructive to discover which company the salesman works for.
But if you think this sort of thing is an isolated incident, you might want to think again.
These sorts of attitudes aren't eradicated overnight.
Some might even observe that in a world where powerful elements are trying to turn society back to the days of Mad Men, such sexist guff is on the increase.
It's heartening, then, that someone in a powerful position at a powerful company chose to display the true nature of supposed sales patter.
I wonder if he was tempted to send the correspondence to the salesman's boss.