How dare you! ... we like it.
March 27, 2008 4:20 AM   Subscribe

What are some audacious things that people have done to convince someone of their goal/cause/opinion or change their mind - and succeed?

One of the sponsorship books I'm reading tells the story of a non-profit club member that, when given a rejection for his club's proposal, actually drove three hours to see the company's sponsorship manager and ask why they were rejected. Said sponsorship manager (who was also the author of this book) was blown away by the man's passion and dedication, and eventually agreed to the sponsorship.

Who else has managed to pull off something like this? Richard Branson's possibly the king of audacious gestures, though his are more publicity stunts than attempts to get someone on their side. There's also all the high school seniors who keep saying "oh, I'll go to College X That Rejected Me with all my awesomeness and show them what they're missing", but I've never heard of anyone that's actually done so, let alone succeed at it. And there's all the Idol auditionees that do crazy stuff to get in - though arguably no one's made it to the finals on a stunt.

I'm mainly interested in stories that involve getting a rejection overturned or have someone change their mind about the asker (for example, getting accepted for something you were once rejected for), but anything works really.
posted by divabat to Grab Bag (16 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I spent a year wooing my wife.
She thought I was charming but completely irresponsible (actor, no steady income, just out of school, etc...) and she lived in Berkeley while I was in L.A.
So I sent her a letter and a present every day.
Every. Day.
It was maybe just a packet of M & M's, or a single from Tom Tom Club, or an article ripped from a magazine that I enjoyed.
I wanted her to know me, daily, to be aware of me. To become as crazy for me as I was for her.
I would call and call as well.
I was persistant.
It worked.
She married me.
posted by Dizzy at 4:43 AM on March 27, 2008 [11 favorites]

My grandfather once had a problem occur with a brokerage account that cost him a few hundred dollars, not a huge amount, but not nothing either. He decided to try and solve the problem by calling Charles Schwab, not the company, Charles. He mannaged to get a voicemail system and left a lengthy message describing his problem. Charles's executive assistant called back and asked if there was anything that she could do to rectify the situation, to which my grandfather (always very sly at reading people) said in a somewhat condecending tone, "well you are just his assistant." She replied, "try me." In a day or two he received a fed ex with a check for his lost money plus interest.
posted by Pollomacho at 4:46 AM on March 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

Andy Grove (3rd employee at Intel) was a 20 year old refugee in Austria trying to be accepted by the International Rescue Committee to go the United States. He was initially rejected, but didn't take no for an answer and forced his way into a second interview and was accepted. more here.
posted by ghostmanonsecond at 5:08 AM on March 27, 2008

A friend of mine auditioned for a part in a play in her final year of theatre school, but wasn't cast. She spoke to her teacher, who assured her that the director has never gone back on a decision and that if she wasn't successful the first time, she would not be getting a part no matter how much of a fuss she made.

Undaunted, she (my friend) got in touch with the director and made her case strongly enough that he agreed to let her audition again. She did, and got the part.

I think a recurring theme in these cases is that it involves someone who tried for something initially through one medium that didn't allow them to truly get their passion across, who then were able to make their point in person.
posted by twirlypen at 5:20 AM on March 27, 2008

Barry Marshall drank bacteria to prove that it caused ulcers.

Dr Marshall proved that H. pylori caused gastic inflammation by deliberately infecting himself with the bacterium.

He got the Nobel for it.
posted by ouchitburns at 5:39 AM on March 27, 2008 [5 favorites]

There's also all the high school seniors who keep saying "oh, I'll go to College X That Rejected Me with all my awesomeness and show them what they're missing" but I've never heard of anyone that's actually done so.

A friend of mine was rejected from Pratt. She showed up there on the first day, went to the admissions office and demanded to know why she was rejected. They said "well let's see your portfolio," and now she goes to Pratt.
posted by 1 at 6:52 AM on March 27, 2008

An acquaintance wanted to be hired as an assistant to famous Big Ten University football coach. Football coach was known for ego, his own outrageous behavior and had limited accessibility. So, acquaintance sent him his resume, a phone, and a note that read, "Dial this number and I'll tell you why I'm the person that would do this job better than anyone else you're looking at."

The football coach laughed, dialed the phone, hired the guy. Acquaintance now has a career in sports and coaching.

I would have been skeptical of this story but a very close friend who also worked for the Big Ten football coach told me this story and other colleagues confirmed it.
posted by jeanmari at 7:41 AM on March 27, 2008

This is a very extreme example, but Gandhi's advocacy for Indians to boycott British imports (especially making and wearing homespun cloth instead of buying textiles) was a major step forward for the independence movement.
posted by kittyprecious at 7:48 AM on March 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

I think it is an excellent example, kitty-p.
Which reminds me of the Boston Tea Party, the Declaration of Independence, Down with German George, etc. etc. etc...
posted by Dizzy at 7:56 AM on March 27, 2008

My first thought was Richard III:
[Lady Anne] curses Richard for having killed Henry...Suddenly, Richard himself enters the room. Anne reacts with horror and spite, but Richard orders the attendants to stop the procession so that he can speak with her. He addresses Anne gently, but she curses him as the murderer of her husband and father-in-law...Praising Anne’s gentleness and beauty, Richard begins to court her romantically. Anne naturally reacts with anger and horror and reminds Richard repeatedly that she knows he killed her husband and King Henry...Finally, in a highly theatrical gesture, Richard kneels before her and hands her his sword, telling her to kill him if she will not forgive him, indicating that he doesn’t want to live if she hates him. Anne begins to stab toward his chest, but Richard keeps speaking, saying that he killed Henry IV and Edward out of passion for Anne herself—Anne’s beauty drove him to it. Anne lowers the sword.

Richard slips his ring onto her finger, telling her that she can make him happy only by forgiving him and becoming his wife. Anne says that she may take the ring but that she will not give him her hand. Richard persists, and Anne agrees to meet him later at a place he names.
(Thanks to SparkNotes)
posted by trouserlouse at 10:24 AM on March 27, 2008

Perhaps not quite what you had in mind - I went to see admin in college X after receiving notice that I didn't make the grade. They changed they mind because while there in person, I discovered that the grades assigned to me in their files were incorrect - my real grades were much higher. But all the positions had already been guaranteed to others. So there was a bit of "Don't tell anyone about this, and we'll make it happen". So I never told, and they made it happen.
(You didn't hear this from me :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 10:27 AM on March 27, 2008

My organization couldn't get a grant from a certain foundation. I made an appointment and came armed with 10 years worth of their annual reports, and demonstrated that they had been supporting every single similar organization in the city except mine (including some with worse reputations and smaller audiences). I then asked her if she could satisfy my question as to what it was of all of these organizations, that made mine the only one not worthy of funding.

We got the money.
posted by nax at 10:52 AM on March 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

My Dad's buddy was out of the Marines and working for the Post Office, but really wanted to be a cop. For some reason he couldn't do it through regular channels. He drove to the Governor of Massachusetts' house (Gov. Volpe at the time), knocked on the door and asked him for a job. Gov. Volpe got him a job as a Registry cop.
posted by bondcliff at 12:13 PM on March 27, 2008

In "Hollywood," Charles Bukowski tells the story of how Barbet Schroeder threatened to cut off his own hand with a chainsaw unless the film "Barfly" got made. Here's the story from the producer's point of view:

"Barbet Schroeder came to my office with a chainsaw." And no, it wasn't to collect the money Golan had somehow forgotten to pay him. "He said he was going to cut off his finger if I didn't make his film." Golan had told Schroeder he needed a week to consider the offer and that he was going to London in the interim. The dogged German followed him across the Channel. One night, exactly a week later, he was warned by a security guard that there was a man with a chainsaw waiting for him on the street. "And that's how we came to make Barfly together," he chuckles, remembering the meandering Charles Bukowski-scripted yarn about a pair of old soaks (Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway) in downtown LA which Schroeder directed for him in 1987.^

The film got made.
posted by MythMaker at 12:16 PM on March 27, 2008

As legend has it, Kris Kristofferson's big break came after landing a helicopter (uninvited) on Johnny Cash's front lawn to deliver some demo tapes.
posted by wabashbdw at 1:17 PM on March 27, 2008

When the Chicago White Sox were interviewing candidates for the managers job (in 2003 or 2004, I think), Ozzie Guillen showed up and didn't stop talking for hours. He got the job and won the World Series a year or two later.
posted by gjc at 4:44 PM on March 27, 2008

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