19th NERVOUS BREAKDOWN: Making Human Connections in the Landscape of Commerce

By Joseph Zitt

A paperback original from Black Angel Press

Published June 2011

ISBN: 978-0-918842-04-6


“Sales is service. If you don’t believe that, this book will change your mind.”
Doc Searls, co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto

After two decades in the telecom industry, Joseph Zitt found himself out of work and in need of a regular paycheck. Through a combination of luck and innate helpfulness, he was offered a sales job at a large San Francisco retail center. Suddenly, a man who had spent years contacting the world through a PC monitor was face to face with an unending stream of very human customers, many of them confused and unsure about what they were looking for. And something remarkable happened: he found he enjoyed it. In fact, he loved it.

Part memoir, part inspirational story, and part business manual, 19th Nervous Breakdown: Making Human Connections in the Landscape of Commerce begins as Joseph Zitt’s journal of self-discovery, but quickly becomes something more. It would have been the easiest thing in the world for Zitt to compile a snarky list of complaints about dumb customers. Instead, he does something unique: he talks about salesmanship as a means to making human connections. In 19th Nervous Breakdown, treating customers as human beings results in relationships that are often amusing, sometimes trying, and occasionally heartbreaking. All are informed by Zitt’s deeply humane perspective and engaging literary style.

But you don’t have to take our word for it. 19th Nervous Breakdown has already won the admiration of everyone from marketing guru Doc Searls to music critic and composer Greg Sandow. Many business books offer guidance on how to be a good salesman: 19th Nervous Breakdown offers that, as well as a meditation on what constitutes a good life.

This is what I’ve learned as a book and music seller: In business relationships we can’t simply approach the customer as an undifferentiated source from which we can wring out cash. Each encounter and transaction is a moment in a personal relationship, however fleeting. Each is as much a part of life as our connections within families, in romance, and with our coworkers. In working with customers, we discover and address their personal desires and open up areas in which we can turn them on to new possibilities, based on how we read their tastes and needs.

Return to Black Angel Press home page.


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