It’s an old urban legend of the type where truth lies deeper than the questionable details. In my version, offered as unofficial onboarding advice when I joined IBM’s global insurance team, it was back in Tom Watson’s day, when salesmen traveled down from Binghamton by rail.
In the taxi he discovered that his hat — essential for a respectable presence — had been left on the train. He diverted to a menswear shop en route to his appointment.
Back at the office he was surprised to be shortchanged on his expenses with the terse explanation: “We don’t buy hats.”
After a couple more attempts to present his claim, met with the same rebuff, he changed tactics. Crafting a flawless expense report from his most recent journey he handed it to his boss, looking him in the eye and saying, “Find the hat.”
In other versions it’s a Texan and a Stetson, and so on.
This blog is meant to capture and share stories like this one, to help shed some light on what life in business is really about.