Nate Braunstein - Death of a Salesman
I met Nate Braunstein in 1981. My connection to him was remote; the father of one of my good friends’ lifelong girlfriend. Sometimes you meet someone, and you feel you have a connection. In this case I admired him as a wheeler dealer garment business factory owner. He had a friendly charisma, and I felt graced that I was able to get along with this successful tycoon. I realized during the run-up to the wedding of my friends - his daughter and soon to be son-in-law - that one of his gifts was making people around him feel good about themselves.
After college I struggled personally. My life was like jungle warfare, and I was losing. Nate represented for me a kind of mutual admiration club. I didn’t have a lot of people I respected saying nice things about me. This man somehow saw me for who I was, that I had a good heart, and made me feel as if I could trust him. Mostly, though, he gave me something to aspire to; the dignity of being a top sales professional. For a short time we had a correspondence going (letters, not e-mail) and he encouraged me when I had some initial success in sales. He was like the band-aid I needed to heal a little and feel better about myself. I now know that selling and entrepreneurism is mostly about feeling confident. I didn’t realize it then, but he gave me what I needed to start my career.
35 years later, I find myself running into young men struggling in their own lives the way I did. As I reach out to make a connection with them, I remember that it didn’t take a lot of time or effort for Nate to show a little interest and provide a word of encouragement, just love. In a way it’s Nate, not me, trying to be there for others. I don’t have Nate’s enormous charisma or the innate skill of making people feel special just by being around them, but I can be a cheering section for others as he was for me.