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The power of persistence goes ‘pop’

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

When Pennsbury High School junior class President Bob Costa was asked to take on a mission—persuade local-but-soon-to-be-national pop star John Mayer to play the 2003 Pennsbury High junior prom—he agreed.

The fact that Mayer had not responded to a letter from the prom chairperson didn’t faze Costa; he had an idea.

First, he managed to talk his way backstage at a Mayer concert in nearby Philadelphia, where he handed Mayer the letter.

As the school year wore on and Mayer rose from local phenom to Grammy Award winner, Costa kept trying to reach the pop star’s agents for an answer.

Finally, Costa landed an interview with Mayer’s manager, who veered between friendly and discouraging.

“Bob,” he told Costa just weeks before the prom, “I’ve been receiving all your e-mails and phone messages. John’s been entrenched in the studio. I’ve flown this by him. He’s not going to be able to play the prom.”

And he didn’t ... that year.

That summer, Costa took up an offer to meet Mayer backstage at a concert in Camden, N.J. Costa reintroduced himself and was greeted with a blank stare: Mayer had never read the letter or heard about the prom idea.

Guess who played at Pennsbury High’s senior prom the following spring?

“I used to think there was this invisible line that separated people who were doing these great things and the rest of us,” Costa says. “Now, I know there is no line.”

— Adapted from Wonderland, Michael Bamberger, Grove Press.

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