One of an Irregular Series

By Rob Whittle|
President & CEO
Williams Whittle


A few years ago, before Williams Whittle’s focus turned to the nonprofit sector, we handled a major after-market automotive account. Things were going swimmingly over a 3-year stretch. Sales were up; market share was increasing. Life was good.

Then, the dreaded change-at-the-top was announced. Agencies always get nervous when the CEO position turns over or there’s a new Chief Marketing Officer. This time, the CEO was being replaced by the CFO, so at least he wasn’t an outsider. He would be privy to the results we’d helped achieve and would be unlikely to make sweeping changes.

A couple of weeks after the change, we got the opportunity to meet the new Man. I went over and introduced myself, bestowing upon him my most winning smile.

He said, “Hi Rob. Bet you don’t remember me.”

Surprised, I had to admit that I did not.

“I interviewed with you a few years ago for Williams Whittle’s CFO position, and I did not get the job.”

The memory started to come back, but I was still mostly bluffing. “Oh, how great for you. Look at you now!” I ventured.

He looked stonily at me. “Do you remember what you said to me when you rejected me?” he asked.

“No. But I have a feeling I’m about to find out.”

“You said that I yawned throughout the interview and that you wouldn’t hire anyone who couldn’t stay awake even during an interview.”

Suddenly, I DID remember and he DID yawn throughout the interview.

Then he said something I am still puzzling through to this day. “What you don’t understand is that I always yawn.”

We proceeded with our first meeting as client/agency, and I watched for him to yawn. He did a couple of times, but nothing excessive.

Did we retain the business? Sure. For a good 6 weeks, time enough for him to find a replacement.