I was interested in becoming a sales engineer for the company. There was no requirement, so I made the suggestion that maybe the company needed the capability and become manager of a one man department.
As the Model 23 entered production, Bill Lear wanted to heavily promote the airplane with ads and brochures. He brought Ken Melton to Wichita and set up a captive ad agency off campus so that the 15% commission due on all print advertising could be retained. The two had worked together at Lear Inc. and had figured out how to beat the system.
Part of the strategy was a series of four-page, full color ads to highlight various aspects of the airplane. Ken dropped in and asked for my help with some sketches he had prepared. He wanted me to supervise the photography and write a paragraph on the instrument panel. An easy assignment and in a few days everything was completed and given to Ken.
He took my materials and in a few days had a layout. He stopped in once again and asked me to go with him to present everything to the Old Man. Oops, did not realize that was part of the deal, but I tagged along.
Bill made a few minor changes on the first three pages and then came to the instrument panel on the fourth page. He came unstuck...he went ballistic. Then he asked Ken, "How could you write such crap." Ken stammered, "Er,ah I didn't write that copy, Stan did."
That set him off again, this time his comments were directed at me. Most of what he said I promptly forgot because I was sure it was the end of the line. Then he calmed down a bit and said, "I know you know what you are talking about, but SAY WHAT YOU MEAN! Fix the copy and bring it to me when you are done."
I went back to my office and spent several hours reworking the copy. It was done after lunch and I went looking for Bill. As usual he was in engineering working out a problem with a group of engineers. The last thing I wanted was an audience for the next butt chewing, but before I could slip away he motioned me over. He took the copy, made a couple of corrections, handed it back, and in a voice barely above a whisper said "It's OK, give it to Ken." What a relief!
In the future I would write lots of ad copy, lots of brochures. Never once have I forgotten Bill's lesson, "SAY WHAT YOU MEAN!"