“Eight hundred thou!” the senior partner repeated mechanically. Then, looking up with a bright smile, he exclaimed: “Why, old man, that leaves us two hundred thousand still to spend before we hit the million mark!”
They say that Sowers could only gibber back at him; and Foreman kept right on and managed some way to float himself on to the million mark. There the tide turned, and after all these years it’s still running his way; and Sowers, against his better judgment, is a millionaire.
I simply mention Foreman in passing. It would be all foolishness to follow his course in a good many situations, but there’s a time to hold on and a time to let go, and the limit, and a little beyond, is none too far to play a really good thing. But in business it’s quite as important to know how to be a good quitter as a good fighter. Even when you feel that you’ve got a good thing, you want to make sure that it’s good enough, and that you’re good enough, before you ask to have the limit taken off. A lot of men who play a nice game of authors get their feelings hurt at whist, and get it in the neck at poker.
You want to have the same principle in mind when you’re handling the trade. Sometimes you’ll have to lay down even when you feel that your case is strong. Often you’ll have to yield a point or allow a claim when you know you’re dead right and the other fellow all wrong. But there’s no sense in getting a licking on top of a grievance.
Another thing that helps you keep track of your men is the habit of asking questions. Your thirst for information must fairly make your tongue loll out. When you ask the head of the canning department what we’re netting for two-pound Corned Beef on the day’s market for canners, and he has to say, “Wait a minute and I’ll figure it out,” or turn to one of his boys and ask, “Bill, what are twos netting us?” he isn’t sitting close enough to his job, and, perhaps, if Bill were in his chair, he’d be holding it in his lap; or when you ask the chief engineer how much coal we burned this month, as compared with last, and why in thunder we burned it, if he has to hem and haw and say he hasn’t had time to figure it out yet, but he thinks they were running both benches in the packing house most of the time, and he guesses this and reckons that, he needs to get up a little more steam himself. In short, whenever you find a fellow that ought to know every minute where he’s at, but who doesn’t know what’s what, he’s pretty likely to be It. When you’re dealing with an animal like the American hog, that carries all its profit in the tip of its tail, you want to make sure that your men carry all the latest news about it on the tip of the tongue.