2) Find Me!




Executive Summary, Marketing Research Tall Tale # 2


    I was mistakenly reported as a “missing person” while traveling in Europe.  A massive manhunt by Interpol, the U.S. State Department and an elite private detective company was not even able to narrow the search down to the correct country in three weeks. At the same time a U.S. accountant, a CPA with no international experience, starting out with almost no information about me, also wanted to find me. Upon doing so, he complained that he had wasted the better part of a morning tracking me down in Europe.

    What did the pros do wrong, and the CPA do right?


    I had been working for a Fortune 500 chemical multinational in the U.S. and left under good terms, with a consulting project for the company in Rome, Italy. About ten days before finishing it, I mailed my parents a copy of my new itinerary (pre E-mail). I had changed my mind. I was not going to return directly to the U.S. Instead I was going to travel for six or seven weeks through Germany. I would be coming home for my usual annual Christmas visit.

    Unbeknownst to me, shortly before I left Italy there was a postal "work-slow" strike, and my letter got hung up. (It finally hit the U.S. a good two months later.) I tried telephoning my parents a couple of times at their places in New York and South Carolina while traveling around Germany, but missed them. Maybe they were traveling themselves. Regardless, they would certainly be home for Christmas, when I would see them. I hadn’t lived at home since the age of 12 (boarding schools) and didn’t think anything more about it.

    With no signs of life from me a full week after my original scheduled return from Italy, my mother, somewhat eccentric, hit the panic button. Bemused, my father looked on, but as week three came and went with no communication from me, he, too, became concerned. Week four a massive manhunt was begun for me as my parents used some political leverage and called in favors. 

    The U.S. State Department, Interpol and a private investigative firm headed by a former F.B.I. agent were set in motion. Eventually I was “tracked” to Turkey.  Post offices there were flooded with photographs of me. While all this is going on, I get two messages from my accountant, a CPA with no international experience.

    I call him up, said hello. He complained that I had been really hard to find. He had wasted the better part of a morning tracking me down. But, I protested, you have my parents´ number, and they have a copy of my itinerary. All you had to do was call them. No, he had not wanted to disturb my parents.  Instead he had . . .

    So a purely domestically oriented accountant finds me in Europe, takes him half a morning to do that. The combined efforts of Interpol, the U.S. State Department, and an incredibly expensive private detective agency, allegedly the best of the best, spin their collective wheels for three weeks. They aren’t even able to narrow it down to the right country, for crying out loud.

    So what did the CPA do, that all these other experts did not?



    When the “find me” exercise is run for students, they usually try “use of credit card”  and other searches typical of police efforts. Rarely a student, perhaps one in fifty, puts together the correct combination of asking the right person the right question to find me. Try jotting down a couple of questions, and to whom they should be asked, before going to the subpage for the oh-so-simple, so painfully obvious solution.



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