Jimmy and the Fertilizer Salesman

Have you ever been so passionate about something that you have studied it from the inside out? Studied it to the point where you know every little detail about it and you are pretty much an expert? You are so passionate about it that you want to share whatever it is with everyone you know. When the time comes to finally share this with your friends, peers, co-workers, etc., you totally geek out in front of them. You start to share with them every little detail about it, and suddenly you start to realize that your crowd is lost. People leave your little presentation not really understanding what was going on or why they just wasted those minutes of their lives. You ask yourself why did they not have the same interest as I did, and how come they don’t want to learn more about your passion? The problem is that you didn’t really prepare to speak to these people, and you didn’t really have a clear goal when presenting. Why did you want to share your passion with them, and what was your goal with sharing it with them. This all comes with preparation.

A prime example of this can be told through a story my friend, let’s call him Jimmy, told me. Jimmy is studying business management at UC Davis and had to take an economics class. For his economics course, he had a first-year professor. This was the professor’s first time teaching the class, and he had previously been working in the fertilizer game. This professor loved to tie in stories of his last job selling fertilizer. He had become a fertilizer expert, and pretty much knew everything about that field of business. After several years working for his last company, he decided to step away as he was offered a last second job to teach. This job was offered due to the school’s shortage of staff, and needing of a quick fill.So Jimmy walked into class the first day, and his professor was doing the usual icebreakers. The professor decided to introduce himself, he struggled to find things to say, so he decided to talk about fertilizer since that’s what he knew best. The problem with this is that fertilizer is not really an interesting subject, and I doubt many students want to go to school to sell fertilizer. But the professor was determined to share with these students. He began his presentation and suddenly started to ramble on and on about nitrogen levels in fertilizer. Jimmy was shocked and was not even sure what was going on. He had the impression that he was going into an economics class, and suddenly he was learning about nitrogen levels, it felt like science class. Jimmy was respectful though and kept listening. His eyes then drew to the professor’s actions. Jimmy could tell the professor wasn’t really prepared because he kept pausing and awkwardly laughing when he lost his train of thought, and he kept fidgeting with his tie. The professor was clearly nervous. Jimmy was lost in a trance of tie fidgeting and awkward laughs, soon enough the presentation was over. Jimmy, along with the rest of his classmates, had no clue what just happened, and was left with the question “What does any of this have to do with economics?”

The main issues with the professor’s presentation were that he was not prepared, and geeked out about his subject. He did not have a clear goal with his presentation, and he distracted his audience from his presentation through his actions of tie fidgeting and awkward laughs. He also did not study his audience and understand that this might not be a subject they are interested in. This can happen to many technical people when they present to business people. They forget to prepare, have a goal, and have a call to action. It is important that when you are presenting something, especially when you are passionate about it, to understand that people will not always be as interested as you are. You have to break down the subject into clear, key points that will persuade your crowd to do whatever it is you want them to do after your presentation. By studying these points, you will prepare yourself to present, and not be nervous and this will result in less awkward laughs and tie fidgeting. Preparation and clarity are the keys to having an effective presentation, especially towards business people. It will make the difference between a weak rambling into a powerful clear message.


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