Oct 28, 2003 Volume 3 Issue 20
This man is a moving target
As a boy he was walking his bike up a hill along side a friend.
A Ferrari raced by. He turned to his buddy and said, “One day I’m going to be a millionaire and have a car like that.”
He began his first business at age 14 - and has been doing more of it ever since. Oh, and he has a Ferrari in the garage, too.
Rodney Joffe began life in South Africa. At a time when there was a distinct black and white population. He joined others teaching blacks - and soon learned it might be better if he moved on. He moved to England. And later to the United States.
Before he left his homeland he met and worked for Jock Falkson, one of the true pioneers and grand gentlemen in the direct marketing business. I can say this, as I too got to know Jock.
Rodney learned the business from every angle. His structured / engineering thinking mind went to work ... for a while in a paper mill. A lettershop, where he ran an Addressograph/Multigraph machine. He was inside an envelope company. He wrote copy. He learned printing. He created step-by-step processes for quality control. He became a computer guru before there was such a thing. And at age 20 got his first patent for a computerized envelope process.
Rodney also learned early that the customer is “king”. Customer services rules. And direct client contact - at their place and inviting them to yours - works. It builds relationships that are tough for the competition to tear down.
Rodney tells me, and I believe him, that he does not do well with discipline. So, when the South Africa Army called for mandatory service, it was not something he was going to like. As soon as he did is gig, he left his home and moved to England.
As a 20 year old, with no university schooling and little true business experience, he borrowed $5000 to start a business. He ran a computer service bureau, which in the 1970's was a good thing to own. He also launched insurance by mail programs with several UK companies. Things were going well - he had a growing family and a successful business.
The short story is his family business partner took him for a ride. As quickly as he could get that to even and his USA visa he was on his way to the States. None of the family enjoyed the English weather - and now, since the business world was upside-down, he moved on.
His first job was with the Tandy Corporation in Ft. Worth, Texas. They hired him as a Direct Mail Coordinator ... something he says he was not qualified to do. Yet, his varied background allowed him to keep more than one ball in the air at a time - and he and Tandy got along just fine, thank you.
Rodney has always gotten to know people. Today many are legends in the DM industry ... such as Leo Yochim. Bob Stone. Dick Potter. Bob Dale. Ruth Shea. The team at Ambassador Leather. This array of contacts lead him to southern California and a new assignment with Drew Kaplan and a list business job.
Always thinking how to improve business, he went to Warner Bros. bought main frame time, and sold it as American Computer Group ... an organization that still exists today. He dove into the catalog / mail-order business, and learned it.
Rodney would go to a gathering of catalogers and pump others about their successes. And then, about a decade ago, he asked one of his clients, Sundance, if he could put their catalog on line. No one was doing this in 1993 ... no one was thinking the world wide web was truly going to be a direct marketing industry sales tool. No one, that is, except Rodney Joffe.
At the time university research was leading the way, as it had been since the invention of the Internet. Western Union, CompuServe and Prodigy were all out there (I was doing work with Prodigy as early as 1989 - they’d been around since about ‘83). Yet, marketing and the web had yet to really happen.
In those early days - through the 1980's and into the early ‘90's, the internet, and then the web, was engineer driven. AT&T, Sprint, IBM, Motorola and others were all using the system - yet, not for marketing and sales. Only engineering projects.
Well, at the Catalog Conference in San Francisco in 1993, in a 10 x 10 booth, Rodney has a display of the Sundance catalog online. And not just the products - you could order. Sure, credit cards were not secure - that concept hadn’t happened yet. Still, it didn’t matter ... the introduction of the idea was a smashing success.
Rodney took his idea on the road - and spoke to anyone who would listen. He made predictions - even to the point of suggesting the entire paper catalog industry was doomed. That is about the only futurist statement he made that did not come to pass ... everything about the WWW did.
Of course this impatient man wanted more. Very quickly he was
asking his techy guys for more information. Today things we think are basic
... in those days revolutionary;
There is no end to this story. The message is simply an exciting young man comes out of South Africa, gets schooled by trial and error under the umbrella of some industry giants, and takes off on his own. Today www.whitehat.com offers database services and email solutions for direct marketers. Also today Rodney has enjoyed owning the original Dodge Viper and a specially made Cobra, which he’s raced as an amateur under the Sports Car Club of America banner. And that rare Ferrari is still in his garage - now nearly restored to it’s 1969 glory days.
Halloween is this coming week-end.
“Assuming” you’re getting ready to celebrate, a bit of history. Compliments World Book Online Reference Center - www.worldbookonline.com/.
Halloween is a popular holiday that takes place on October 31. In the United States and Canada, children dress in costumes and go trick-or-treating. Many people carve jack-o'-lanterns out of pumpkins. Halloween parties for children feature fortune telling, mock haunted houses, scary stories, and games, such as bobbing for apples. People decorate their houses and yards with images of ghosts, skeletons, witches, black cats, bats, and other symbols of Halloween. Many communities across the United States also hold parades and other celebrations for Halloween.
Halloween developed from an ancient pagan festival celebrated by Celtic people over 2,000 years ago in the area that is now the United Kingdom, Ireland, and northwestern France. The festival was called Samhain (pronounced SOW ehn), which means "summer's end." The festival marked the beginning of the dark winter season and was celebrated around November 1.
In the 800's, the Christian church established a new holiday, All Saints' Day, on this date. All Saints' Day was also called All Hallows'. Hallow means saint, or one who is holy. The evening before All Hallows' was known as All Hallows' Eve, or as it came to be abbreviated, All Hallow e'en. This name was eventually shortened to Halloween.
Halloween around the world
For centuries, Halloween was marked throughout much of the United Kingdom and Ireland as a family celebration. People ate traditional foods including cabbages, apples, potatoes, nuts, and oats. Games, fortune telling, disguises, and tricks are all part of Halloween celebrations in much of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.
The American custom of trick-or-treating has also become popular in many areas. In the United Kingdom, children ask, "Anything for Halloween?" rather than demand, "trick or treat!" Fireworks are a part of many Halloween celebrations in Ireland and Canada.
In many countries in Europe, people visit the graves of loved ones on All Saints' or All Souls' Day. Recently, however, American Halloween traditions, such as trick-or-treating, are now practiced alongside this custom. Halloween parties for adults have also become popular in many European cities. American-style Halloween customs are also appearing in Australia and New Zealand. Many nightclubs and hotels in some large Asian cities use Halloween parties to entertain foreign tourists.
American-style Halloween celebrations are not welcomed everywhere, however. For example, Halloween is often regarded with suspicion in China. In Mexico, Dia de los muertos (Day of the dead) is usually celebrated in November with special foods and visits to family grave sites. It is often mistaken for Mexican Halloween. Actually, the celebration is a unique blend of ancient Native American beliefs and Spanish Catholic traditions. Some people in other countries, including Italy and Poland, view Halloween as an American import that has nothing to do with their own culture, and urge children to celebrate their native holidays.
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