Can Your Persistence Beat 200/1 Odds?

A misfiring water pitch tapped me onto Adam Shaw’s blog the other day. Specifically his recounting of the incredible story of Jack Andraka.

Here’s a teenager that, driven by the loss of a loved one, invented an early spot for the deadly pancreatic cancer.

You’d think people would be banging down his door, wouldn’t you.

So how many of the 200 professors he contacted to share his good news gave him the time of day?

All of them, right! Wrong…


Say it again.


Take a deep bow, Mister Anirban Maitra, Professor of Pathology, Oncology, and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Hollywood surely beckons, in the style of Flash of Genius. Way more importantly, the gratitude of millions of patients harshly afflicted with this worst of news awaits.

Jack seemingly had “a plan, budget and timeline for his project”. Yet nada in return from 199 ‘esteemed’ ‘experts’.

I did wonder on what his intro email said.

What kind of subject line wouldn’t get replies?

You alone can stop people dying from pancreatic cancer, and here’s how…

Perhaps not.

Yet here my point is rather on the persistence good salespeople need. At all times. I’ve blogged on similar before. From way back on celebrity knockback legends right through to ideational perseveration.

I’m reminded of the insurance cold-callers that had to work on numbers of one-in-a-hundred. So they used to have pages of grids on their desks. Simply cross off each of their relentless stream of ‘no’ after ‘no’. Providing succour and motivation to keep going until the treasured ‘yes’.

You feeling no-one is taking your call? Nowhere near biting your hand off? Well, here’s a lad that had something truly game-changing and live-saving. And he still had to get through 199 Nos…

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