DON'T BE A DINOSAUR!
J. L. RUTLEDGE
A FEW years ago a wave of prohibition swept over this continent. At that time certain lugubrious individuals, in giving point to their pain and anger, painted mournful pictures of the young men of the race bereft of the kindly shadow of the bar room, being forced out into the streets only to find their way eventually to the poolroom and the questionable dance hall.
Looking back on these fearful pictures we are at a loss to find their counterpart in life. There is no cluttering up of street corners with young men, even the pool rooms are only comfortably crowded, and most frequently by those who, in some mysterious way, live like the lilies of the field. The dance halls whose very name a few years ago was anathema to God-fearing folk have virtually ceased to exist, and in their place have come attractive places, models of propriety in every sense. Yet, hard as it may be to believe, the young man is not there.
There are some young men, of course, but if you take the trouble to glance over any assembly of the sort, the fact that will probably strike you is that the dancers are older than they used to be. The young man, the man between eighteen and twenty-five years of age, has given place to the man of forty-five. The young man is not in the saloon or the dance hall or the pool rooms, so much is certain. Trailing him to his lair by the use of the cold hard logic that says, “if he is not in these places then he must be somewhere else,” we eventually discover him bowed studiously over a desk or at a night school, or in his own room at home poring over a volume dealing with advanced business practice. It is a fact, surprising as it may appear. The upstanding young man of to-day knows more of finance than frivolity, more of technology than of Terpsichore.
Education has not been thrust upon him; it has been sold to him. There looks out at you from the pages of almost any magazine you may pick up the face of that purposeful chap so manifestly at grips with any dragon that stands in the way of his success. Pointing fingers demand of you, “Are you a Business Coward?” Inquisitive individuals ask from the printed page, “What are you doing with your Spare Time?” Optimistic gentlemen with all the assurance of inch type, assert: “You can 'Double Your Salary”— “You Should be earning $10,000.” Enquiring souls would know, “Why you should Wait 20 years to be President?” And the young men have read and considered, and are diligently thinking themselves into the part of the masterful grey-beard who sits at the head of the directors’ table, just as a few years ago they were thinking themselves into a khaki coat and a breast adorned with ribbons.
More than that, most of the articles and books that he reads tend to the same end. The swashbuckling hero of the Zenda period has given place to the super-man of business. The young man of to-day reacts to the talk of large figures. He thinks of a million now as easily as the young man of a few years previous thought of two bits. He is being schooled in the “success” brand of literature. He reads success and brain power pamphlets and the books and magazines that deal in the office-boy-to-president type of literature. All the thought of the age, and all its material necessities, force him inexorably to one mode of thinking. Efficiency is the by-word of the age.
The Writing on the Wall
'"pHERE is no suggestion that we are developing an intellectual Colossus. Deep down within him the young man of to-day agrees with the mass of people that night was ordained for sleep and the movies. He can still shake as agile a toe as his father. He is no wiser than his brother of former years, but he is living in a new age. Years ago the duck-billed dinosaur and the brontosaurus, faced by a change in climate, turned up their mighty toes, and passed into history, and the young man of to-day senses the age-old law of the survival of the fittest. He may not put it in these terms, but he knows new conditions make new demands, he is wise enough to appreciate some men get jobs while others don’t, and he evolves from these simple phenomena a judgment on life. It is not so much a nobility and strength of character that we are ascribing to him. It is merely that he does not want to be a Dinosaur. If you can ascribe any active characteristic to this peculiar tendency of thought, it is merely the more or less unthinking effort to avoid this fate.
Ten years ago the night school was given over to ambitious newsboys, to Angelos and Demetrius’, eager to secure enough arithmetic to compete successfully against a cold world for the price of a banana or a shoe shine. Perhaps here and there an embarrassed and ambitious individual studied stenography with the idea that some day he might be a newspaper reporter. But no one was missing from the fashionable dance. Every bank clerk, every accountant was safely cared for by some social engagement. The night school belonged to the very poorest of the proletariat. No one seemed to expect more
of it. It stood somewhere below the common school, its duty to provide sufficient of the practicalities of the three R’s for those who saw no need for education. That was its purpose ten years ago. To-day these same schools and the correspondence school, which is more a modern development of the same idea, are giving a highly specialized training to supplement the day to day experience of the commercial world and to superimpose the element of practicality on a B. A. degree.
From the banks there comes a steady stream of men, one city in Canada alone accounting for a thousand students. The insurance offices are erupting night-schoolward. The young man is leaving the lathe, and the counting house stool, dragging his weary feet from behind the counter or from under the draughting table, to turn them toward the night school, or toward his own third-floorback bed-room, where, with a green shade over his eyes, he wrestles with the problems that are not so much the problems of his present day, but the problems of his probable future.
What Started All This
THERE are many factors that have helped to bring about this situation, and first of these was perhaps the war. Because the war upset our orderly habits, created new social and economic conditions, indeed created a new world. It took the young men out of schools and colleges, from the junior benches of banks and mercantile institutions, and sent them into officers’ training camps where they sweated as they had never done before to get the necessary information that was to be the “Open Sesame” to the great adventure. There is the fact, too, that the war gave to these young adventurers in payment for the cool courage that was their one great asset, officers’ salaries that were far in excess of their actual worth in the business world. When they came back and found this out it was an unpleasant surprise that shook them into a mood to consider anything that spelled the word success.
Then of course there is our old and hard-worked friend the Cost of Living that put a damper on many gaieties. Inexpensive pleasures have become a thing of the past, or at least have ceased to be inexpensive. The automobile has had its influence. It has taught people to think in terms of upkeep.
And here let us introduce a new thought.
The war years were tragic years for the “flapper.” Gaiety, attention, the idolatry and admiration of callow youth were her right, as they had been the right of her sisters before her since the time of Eve.
But her natural companions were learning stem lessons in the sanguinary mud of Flanders, lessons of self-discipline that the passing of the war years have scarcely eradicated. They have passed the period of juvenile philandering and, being wise beyond their years, they realize that anything more serious is beyond them. The young man eating at the corner restaurant realizes that the upkeep of one “flapper” is heavy, and that despite the optimism of that cheerful prevaricator who held that two could live as cheaply as one, he realizes that the upkeep costs of married life are apt to be beyond his modest earnings. The bridegrooms of to-day require more ageing than those of a decade past. The young men of
this year will not be in the marriage market for some years hence. Old friend Cost of Living, must be bearded in his den before “The Voice that Breathed O’er Eden” can be appropriately wafted from the organ. Thus, is the orderly two-by-two Noah’s Ark system being put at a disadvantage.
The Young Man’s Fancy
BUT why continue further in this vein? It is obvious that every thing,whether life itself, the printed page, or the social usages, are all preaching the same stern doctrine. Every factor is impressing on the young man, and indeed on the middle-aged, the imperative necessity of doing something to create a demand for their services in the business market. With these sharpened senses, it is not hard for the young man to realize that it would be of r.-~ value to him to be able to remember Mr. Smith, of Seattle, and his lumber deal, or whatever it was that the omnipresent Mr. Smith was dealing in. He would delight to say—“If I remember correctly, and I do remember correctly”— He can picture himself into the part of the young man answering promptly the questions put to him by the boss,
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Don’t Be a Dinosaur!
Continued from page 15
and being consequently and promptly moved into a nice little office with his name on the glass door.
The needs of the day have sharpened his sensibilities and focussed his interests, and the campaign of dogmatic assertion is sending the young men of Canada into the class rooms by the tens of thousands.
In the city of Toronto alone there are a thousand bank clerks who are spending two or three nights a week studying advanced banking practice—and the same is true of many other centres. They are paying out their own good money, from what everyone knows is not too munificent salary, in order to meet Opportunity, while it is still in the way. The banks in Toronto and other cities have put their strong seal of approval on this practice. Their employees who have the interest and en-' thusiasm to go through with this work find that not only are they reimbursed for their outlay but receive a bonus as well.
Doing It Thoroughly
“T 1 rE’VE noticed one thing,” said the
VV general manager of one of the large correspondence and night schools, “They’re not hurrying through. They used to, a few years ago, while the war was on. Any time was enough. They would be with us two or three months, and then they would be off. It was easy enough to get a position then with very little training. But we’ve noticed a marked difference of late. They have come to us and they have worked, not for two or three months, but for a year or more, and they have done it because they found it was good business. We didn’t urge it. They found it out for themselves.
“And there is another thing we have noticed, and that is that some of our pupils who started to take a course, and who gave it up, because they didn’t like the extra effort it entailed, I suppose, and because they thought they could get along as well without it, have been coming back.
“In the city of Toronto not so long ago, one of the large banks waslookingforaman to fill a position representing considerable
responsibility. There were certain men, who on the good old stand-pat system of seniority were marked for the place. They were good men of the wheel horse type, good faithful dependable servants, but they did not look to the general manager like the men he wanted. He called his assistant into consultation. “I don’t like to pass over these chaps,” he said, “but we need something they haven’t got. I know exactly what we want, but I don’t know where to lay my hands on him.”
“I do,” said the assistant. “I know the very man you’re looking for, young Burnett. He’s on collections at. one of our branches. Been with us only three years, but he’s a comer.”
“Never heard of him,” said the general manager, without any very evident enthus-
“Of course you haven’t,” retorted the assistant. "Neither had I till about six months ago. I was looking over the reports of that school where a few of our boys are doing some night work, and I just happened to notice that his name appeared pretty frequently at the head of the heap. Good marks, that sort of thing, you know. Well, I looked him up. Nothing very prepossessing about him. But I kept my eye on him. When he came out top man in their examinations, I brought him up here for a while, and kept both my eyes on him. He knew as much as I did about a lot of things, and I rather fancy he knew more than I did on a few, so I gave up my investigations on these points. But I know enough about him to know that he’s a comer. I sent him out to this branch, so as to have him handy when anything turned up. He’s your man.”
“But he’s only been with us three years, you say.”
“Yes, but he has done more in those three years, to make himself worth more to this bank, than most of them have done in: nine years. I feel more obligation to three years of eager, energetic service than to nine of mere faithfulness.”
“All right,” said the general manager,' “Send him over to see me.”
Burnett went over the heads of some few
hundred faithful employees, and no doubt the few hundred were inclined to think they had been slighted. But some of them stopped to think. And this is the story of the man who stopped to think, wherever you find them.
Which Came First—Hen or Egg?
\/HETHER the kind of young man VV who succeeds is the kind who studies anyway, or whether he succeeds because he studies, is one of those things you can’t very well discover,” says one bank official. “But we have our own ideas.” Of course the mere fact that a young man has stepped into a night school, does not mean that Providence is going to graft a $10,000 salary on a $1,000 intellect. But it does mean this, that if there is a potential ten thousand in that thousand dollar intellect then it is going to get its chance.
A young man who had been studying with one of the large correspondence schools had been doing pretty well, and as is the general custom in such cases the school authorities notified the large manufacturing concern with which he was connected offering to keep them informed of his progress. In reply the manager said. “We have a position waiting now, and we have been wondering just where we could get a man of the character we want. We are more than glad to know that we have one in our own plant. We are anxious to hear of his progress and you can be sure that we will make it worth his while.” Oh yes, it isn’t all black faced type, these glowing stories, it’s a simple fact that when a young man keeps his door on the latch Opportunity is more than likely to stumble in.
The Evidence in the Case
MOREOVER if anyone arises to say that the $10,000 a year salary story is apocryphal it is not a particularly difficult matter to pick up a goodly sheaf of evidence to the contrary.
Not so very long ago a young clerk stood behind the counters of one of Toronto’s large departmental stores. He hadn’t much to recommend him except the saving grace of interest in his business. Whenever his department squeezed itself into the stores’ advertising, he would go home and brag about it, till his family came to the melancholy conclusion that George was a nut, and that ultimately something would have to be done about it. While the family was considering just what this something wouldbe, George took a hand in it himself, by discovering that every time his department was mentioned in the paper, it meant more work for himself. From this combination of active brain and tired feet, he deduced for himself that advertising meant business. It wasn’t a new discovery of course, but it was as good as new as far as George was concerned. He was tremendously interested, and kept watching the papers and worrying his family with an added fervor. Then he got an idea that he would like to know how it was done, and surreptitiously he would steal out of the house and go to night school. When he outgrew that, he took an advanced correspondence course. He learned what should be advertised and why.
Finally a casual word dropped by his department chief brought George to the knowledge of the heads of the firm. Rather to his surprise George had to report to the advertising department of the store. A few years later hewasatthe head of that department. Nothing apocryphal about this. You can locate George now. He is head of the advertising department of one of the two largest departmental stores in the United States, and George’s family have ceased to feel that they will have to do something about it, for George has done it himself to the tune of $25,000 annually.
During the war, you will probably remember that submarines were made in Canada. When the decision to manufacture in this country was first considered it was generally decided that it would take quite a long time to get the thing started. Just about this time a dapper young Englishman dropped off the steamer from "’Ome" and figuratively took his coat off. He didn’t look particularly like one of those two-fisted chapswhoareusually supposed to be the type to get things started. But somehow they started nevertheless, and before long the departure of those submarines began to look like a
i procession. Now this young chap, not so many years before, had been something in a machine shop. Nothing in particular, just something. And on that practical something he put ambition to learn, and by the aid of a correspondence course he made himself the chief designing and construction engineer of a great armament company. And there you have it. And they do say, friends, that for being able to j go out quietly and get things started he j draws something like $50,000 a year.
But to turn from five figures to the j humbler four. There was a young chap stoking coal in one of the head offices of a bank in Toronto. He got an idea that he would like to know more than he did. He took up a course in Engineering, and when he had successfully completed that the bank paid for it as is their custom. Then he took a course in refrigeration and the bank as promptly paid for that. Seeing that he was bound to get something, they made him chief engineer of that bank. But study had grown to be a hobby with him. He has just taken a course in languages. And again the bank has paid for it. Perhaps they figure it will come in handy some day. Perhaps they just feel that a man who studies anything is making himself more valuable, but anyway they pay.
Here is another chap. He used to be a helper in the mill. He didn’t know anybody who could give him a boost. He was only a name on the pay roll as far as anyone in authority knew. If he had dropped out the paymaster would have thought that he had saved three dollars a day and would have been quite satisfied. Now he is general manager of that great textile plant. As a helper he had a certain practical knowledge but he realized that he might have been watching spindles all his life if he did not know, not only how they worked, but why. He studied and somebody found out, as somebody usually does, and he got his chance and a new position and new studies. Now he is general manager. He knows how he got there and it would be beyond human nature if he did not look with favor on those who are following the same course. And more than that the men in his plant know how he got there, so many of them are following in his steps.
One large correspondence school, that makes its appeal not to the untrained but to the trained man; and seeks its students among those who have at least a fair margin of prosperity, has upward of eleven thousands students in Canada. It draws its students from almost every walk of commercial life. Its appeal starts not at the foot of the ladder but at the top. It numbers among its students presidents and secretaries and general managers, managers of departments, heads of wholesale and retail establishments. It is an illuminating fact that this organization that advertises the possibility of improving the understanding of business conditions, actually pays its Canadian head a bigger salary than is paid to most bank presidents. An evidence surely that in making money for others they are also making it for themselves, an encouraging sign, for it takes more optimism than most of us possess to be taught to be a $10,000 man by a $2,000 instructor.
Appeal for High and Low
IT li> interesting to study the appeal of this correspondence course that deals with the heads of organizations as well as with those in more modest positions. Hero again the war has been a factor, the w ar and t he after-the-war conditions that forced many a businessman to his figurative, ¡Í not to his physical knees.
Here is an eager, anxious-faced man, evidently a man of position.
"It’s the wholesalers’ fault,”heis saying querulously. "They have forced us into selling things we have no right or reason to sell. We’re silversmiths, father was a silversmith before me, and I know something of that business and I’m prepared to meet any turn that may come in it. But the wholesalers have forced us into buying umbrellas, and pictures, and lighting fixtures. They’re not our line. We don’t know the business, and we’re loaded up with this sort of thing without knowing either the buying or the selling market.” There you have a man with a situation to meet for which he is not trained. There was a manufacturer who during the war developed a profitable sideline in making linen, aeroplane linen. He had made a substantial profit, and had been pyramiding his production. Then the war ended and his contracts were cancelled, and he was left with stocks of apparently unsalable goods on his hands that seemed likely to wipe out more than his past profits. These are men faced with a problem that no previous experience has taught them to meet. They were men ripe for the suggestion of education in marketing, ready to see their need. Now take the instance of the aeroplane linen man, who had been bleating his terror and indignation, so that the Samaritans from the whole neighborhood were hastening to him with advice. His education took in methods of marketing that illustrated the practices of 5-and 10-eent stores. That was the suggestion he needed. He got out and sold his product on the same basis. Nothing unusual here Just horse sense. It was the kind the manufacturer needed and didn’t have. He was a trained manufacturer but he did not see an opportunity that was apparent to the trained merchandizes The war years brought to business a feverish activity. Everything progressed on its own momentum. Fortunes were made by men who could only gasp with surprise. There was an eager market for anyone who could produce anything. It wasn’t a question of salesmanship. It was a question of production. But the war is over, and it is no longer a question of production, Markets are not too eager and shelves have been overflowing with unwanted goods. New problems are facing the manufacturer and distributer. Young men from the trenches, and some grey beards from executive offices of great munition plants, they are once more fighting the same battle.
You won’t find them in the dance hall or the pool room, at least not often, neither the young man, nor the old who it is claimed has taken his place. And you won’t find them there because they have been faced with serious problems and the answer is not in the back of the book. They have gone back to school.