Carl Mays: 'My mind is made up; don’t confuse me with facts'

Sep. 19, 2013 @ 11:49 PM

Through the years as I have spoken to various groups, there have been people who have hung around following my talks or seminars. Rather than sharing a quick “thank you” or “good talk” or “enjoyed it” or some other much-appreciated response and handshake, these people have stayed to ask questions, make comments or share stories and examples.

I also express my appreciation to them for pursuing some line of thought. One such participant approached me recently after a keynote address at a company’s annual sales meeting.

He asked, “Why is it that some clients just won’t listen to facts?” He went on to tell me that he could have in hand every kind of researched data, proof – “cold, hard, no-doubt-about-it truth” – but some people just won’t open their eyes and ears and minds to what is presented to them in black and white – or living color. I shared with the man that day something I had picked up back in the late 1970s when I first began speaking professionally. 

I initially heard it from the late Cavett Robert, founding father of the National Speakers Association, when he emphasized “Human acts are committed far more often through the dictates of feelings and emotions than through logic and reason.”

I later discovered that Dr. Karl Menninger and other distinguished psychiatrists and psychologists had emphasized it for years.

The importance of giving great consideration to people’s feelings and emotions brings to mind a phrase with which you are probably familiar: “My mind is made up. Don’t confuse me with facts!” Where and when did the phrase originate? Well, even though it has been used many times since, research shows that Roy S. Durstine, a prominent specialist in advertising, wrote a 1945 article for Advertising and Selling magazine titled “Don’t Confuse Me With Facts!” The article described a meeting between an ad agency and a client.

A group from the agency had just finished its presentation of a market survey. The findings were conclusive – clearly showing that the current policies being followed by the client could lead only to disappointment and possibly to financial disaster. However, despite the facts given in the presentation, the client had no desire to change the strategy that had been previously selected. The following conversation occurred:

The client said, “I still think we’ll go along as we have been doing.” The agency spokesperson countered with, “But how can you say that in the face of this evidence?” The client looked at the spokesperson, stared at the presentation charts that had been set up in the room, and seemed deep in thought. Finally, he reached for a cigarette, lit it, and said softly, “Don’t confuse me with facts!”

One of my early presentations as a speaker was titled “The Human Factor.” Later, I lengthened the title to “The Human Factor – The Answer Begins With You.” Currently, I have incorporated the “feelings and emotions” emphasis into my “Seeds of Success” presentation. All of these presentations emphasize that, generally speaking, less than 15 percent of an individual’s success is due to his or her technical knowledge and over 85 percent is due to people knowledge. 

This means that you must know inside and out, up and down, across and in-between what you are doing technically. It also means you better constantly work on studying, dealing with and communicating with the human factor of feelings and emotions.     

Carl Mays is a National Speakers Association Hall of Fame member and author, whose MyMerlin.net mentoring site is based on his  “A Strategy For Winning” book and program. For more information, visit www.carlmays.com.