I graduated with the Ph.D. in 1969 and went off for a first teaching job at the University of Santa Clara. I had been radicalized by the student movements of the sixties and while I was initially headed for a job at a so called big ten school, I ended up at much smaller venue due in part to my anger at my professors for being on the wrong side during those tumultuous days. Neil Smelser, Erving Goffman and Marty Trow were my mentors. Trow was marvelous in his supervisionof my dissertation.
Having received absolutely no training on how to teach, I was totally unprepared for the boredom and indifference of students in my sociology classes at Santa Clara. So I developed a style of teaching that I came to call 'experiential sociology'. It consisted of designed experiences that I and students developed and then implemented and then documented using multi media formats. I carried on this approach at my next teaching job at Stockton State College in New Jersey after getting the boot at Santa Clara for participating in a disuption of a ROTC ceremony after Nixon went into Cambodia.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, I never could decide, I never was able to convince the administrators at Stockton State of the value of experiential sociology and thus I was denied tenure at that institution. Fortunately, my father, Nevitt Sanford, the founder of the Wright Institute in Berkeley, found a spot for me at the institute where I took up residence for three years in the late 1970s. Next it was out into the world of business and the discovery of my calling.
I fell into a real estate office in Montclair in the early 80's when interest rates were 19 percent and the market was flat. My sales manager told me to go out and make cold calls so that if and when the market turned I would have some customers. Nobody else in the office was making those calls; I went out and tried and found it very difficult, embarrassing and humiliating. And hence the question that all my years at Berkeley taught me how to ask: What is there in us that resists reaching out to strangers with our proposition? That is, why is it so hard for most people to make cold calls to strangers, to bridge the social gulf between themselves and strangers when there is no third party introduction. This is in business to business calls, where the phone is used to set up appointments.
I became of a student of the problem. I researched the literature, overcame the reluctance myself and ended up teaching public seminars on how to overcome call avoidance. Now I have a web site, www.coldcalling.com where I market training materials on business development and coach people on how to reach out to strangers with their business proposition. I have written a book on the topic, Fearless Cold Calling. And my next book will be on reluctance in other arenas: stage fright, writer's block, fear of public speaking and self promotion. I plan a second web site: reluctance.org.
UC Berkeley sociology gave me the willingness to write and do research and as a result I have been able to leverage those strengths in ways that have greatly aided the growth of my business.