How Sharp Is Your Pencil?

How Sharp Is Your Pencil?

Today’s post will bring something a little different to the table. I’m sharing a scenario (which I heard during a professional development session at the annual Vistage Chair conference) that requires resolution.

While normally I would give you my recommendations, this time I’m not providing any answers.

I hope this exercise will provoke some thought as you head into your weekend.

Here we go…

The Scenario

You have been through five rounds of interviews for the top sales position at a large, multinational company. You and one other candidate are the two remaining finalists.

Your final interview consists of one question that you will be given the day of the interview. You will have 30 minutes to consider your answer, which you will present to the CEO.

Here’s the question:

The company for which you are interviewing for a position sells pencils. For five years they have been unsuccessful while attempting to sell to a particular account. The buyer for the account currently purchases pencils from the buyer’s brother-in-law. The pencils provided by the brother-in-law are identical to the ones sold by the company trying to land the account. Today, the target company’s buyer is retiring and has granted you an appointment. You have only this single, one-time opportunity to meet with the buyer.

What do you do?

The Answer

If you’re like many of the people that were in the professional development session with me, you want to know more. There are questions on your mind, and you’re looking for answers to determine your angle of approach. However, there is no angle and no additional information that will help you solve this puzzle.

The scenario I’ve shared with you actually happened to the individual who facilitated our Vistage session. And the answers from the participants in the room were interesting and unique. There was no “right” answer. Simply a variety of approaches to the problem. Yet what struck me about all the answers was their singular focus.

I recognize my statement is cryptic — I’ve purposefully crafted it that way.

Now, over to you!

  1. What would you do and how would you approach the situation I described?
  2. How many problems do you recognize within the scenario, and which one is your approach solving?

Feel free to drop me a line or post some thoughts and questions in the comments of this post. I look forward to hearing you. Happy noodling!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *