Desert Storm - Mohamed's Story

If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you

----- From ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling  ------

In 2011, Mohamed, one of our Story workshop participants, was asked to travel from Egypt to Iraq to represent his company in a dispute meeting with a major Iraqi telecommunications company. 

The Iraqi Telco was experiencing serious network failures and the main suppliers, including Mohamed's company, were all pointing the finger at each other.

It was dangerous to travel to Iraq and company security policy required Mohamed to travel by armoured car and dress in full military protective clothing including bullet proof vest.

Alone inside an armoured car en route to Bagdad, Mohamed lifted a bottle of lemonade to his lips to quench his thirst. As the armoured car bounced on the potholed road the lemonade went down his wind pipe and he started to choke.

With the bullet proof vest strapped tightly around his chest, Mohamed panicked. He couldn’t unstrap the bullet proof vest, he couldn’t get the attention of the driver and he couldn’t breathe.

As he fought for breath, Mohamed had a sinking desperate fear that he would die alone inside the armoured car. He even thought to send a text message to his wife with his last few seconds of consciousness.

But eventually he wheezed some shallow breaths and recovered just as the armoured car reached his meeting destination.

Entering a room full of angry, antagonistic suppliers, Mohamed was oblivious to the commotion. He sat calmly and luxuriated in every breath of air, so happy to be alive.

Suddenly accusing voices rounded on Mohamed’s company. It was all his company’s fault!

Wordlessly, Mohamed stood up and went to the whiteboard. The room fell silent. As he sketched the configuration of his company’s technical solution on the whiteboard, Mohamed calmly explained how the network fault could not have been caused by his company’s equipment.


“Ok! So it’s not their fault, it must be …” and the room descended back into acrimonious argument.

Mohamed walked back and sat down next to the local manager who turned to him and exclaimed “how did you do that?!”


Of course it was Mohamed's newfound existential perspective that allowed him to calmly manage that heated situation. 

It's a great story. We could just enjoy it for its perspective and humour but we could also retell it in a similar fractious situation to help gain agreement.

There is no chance of agreement when the opposing sides are highly emotional and it is the role of a sales person to persuasively shift the emotional landscape to a positive one. We call this type of story a 'sales process' story because it can be used to move a sale forward.

Great stories can be re-purposed and it is not necessary that the events happened to you.


Company: Large Telecoms Supply Company


Told in a Growth in Focus Story Workshop 2017

Story Type:



For Story Students

The Setting:

Iraq after the second gulf war

The Complications:

Mohamed nearly choked to death

The Turning Point:

Mohamed recovered and was calm and composed through a vitriolic dispute meeting

The Resolution:

Mohamed resolved the dispute in is company's favour

The Point of the Story:

Perspective makes a difference

How to use this story: This story can be used to calm a situation where disagreements are getting out of hand. It is an example of a sales or business process story. Here is 

another example

 of a personal story that can be re-purposed for a business situation.


The Accidental Sales Person

Growth in Focus is a Sales consulting company, but our Managing Director Sue Findlay does not consider herself a sales person. In fact, Sue shies away from sales activities, preferring to leverage her technical expertise in procurement, buyer psychology and winning tenders.

Company Director Mike Adams is also a technical person, but has long experience in sales and managing sales teams across several industries, and so helps Sue with sales activities for her territory in Western Australia.

Mike attended an industry conference in 2015 in Melbourne and met a Perth-based managing director of an international company that he though would be a good future customer. Mike had a brief conversation with the MD at the conference, and agreed to meet when he was next in Perth.

Unfortunately, each time Mike went to Perth on business, the MD was somewhere else in the world. It seemed likely they would never meet. After about five attempts to schedule a meeting, Mike emailed the MD suggesting that he meet Perth-based Sue instead.

Mike received a one line reply:

"Ok I will meet her, but we're not buying anything"


Hardly a response to motivate an already nervous Sue.

Mike setup a meeting practise session with Sue and encouraged her to tell the story about

why she founded Growth in Focus

- that story is about Sue's frustration with sales people who are unable to supply critical intelligence for the tender submissions she works on - such as the underlying reasons for the tender and the competitive situation.

Sue went for the meeting while Mike waited anxiously in Melbourne to hear how it went.

Sue called after the meeting and excitedly told Mike that she had told her story about her frustration with sales people and the MD had said:

"Welcome to my world, lets go to a whiteboard ..."

We are happy to report that this company is now a Growth in Focus customer where we are supplying a range of sales consulting services.


Company: Growth in Focus

Source: Sue Findlay and Mike Adams experience


Story Type: Insight, Personal


For Story Students:

The Setting: Perth, 2015

The Complications: Sue did not feel competent or able to have a sales meeting with a prospect customer

The Turning Point: Sue was encouraged and trained to use a purposeful story in her first meeting with the prospect

The Resolution: Sue created rapport and interest with her story and it is now an important Growth in Focus customer

The Point of the Story: The right story can win a sale

How to use this Story: We use this story to underline the importance of stories in the sales process