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"From Selling Products to Saving Lives: How Empathy and a 'Can Do' Attitude Can Make All the Difference"

Eric Zahrai

March 5, 2023

Women and child

In 1996, together with my distributor and supplier colleague from a reputable engine company in the US, we traveled to Romania to sell a powertrain system to the Romanian truck manufacturer, Roman SA. Little did we know that this business trip would inspire our lives and teach us a valuable lesson that anything is possible.

During our travels by train from Bucharest to Brasov, an old medieval city in the middle of Transylvania where the legend of Dracula started, we met a woman named Elena Carmen, who shared her heart-wrenching story of her one-year-old daughter's diagnosis with Hydrocephalus, a neurological disorder. Elena Carmen was distraught as there was no treatment available in Romania, and she had been unsuccessful in obtaining a visa to travel to Italy to seek medical assistance there.

Our team, led by our distributor, was moved by Elena Carmen's story and knew that we had to help. We didn't have a clear solution, but we were determined to find one. In the evening at the hotel, we brainstormed and made calls to our doctor friends in the US, eventually discovering that the only solution was to bring Elena Carmen's daughter to the US for treatment.

We didn't give up and were able to secure a visa from the US Embassy in Bucharest for Elena Carmen and her daughter, writing letters of support and advocating on their behalf. In the spring of 1997, with funding from generous donors, the mother and child traveled to the US for treatment, which saved the baby's life.

This experience taught me a valuable lesson that has stayed with me throughout my career. I realized that we are not just salespeople trying to close a deal, but problem solvers and solution providers. I learned that anything is possible if we have the open-mindedness, determination and willingness to help others.

This story demonstrates the importance of empathy and the power of determination in our personal and professional lives. It reminds us that even in the midst of a successful sales call, we can make a meaningful impact on people's lives. It's a reminder to always look for ways to help others and to never give up, even when the solution seems out of reach.

If you have similar stories, I would love to hear from you.