In last place in the women's service field with less than 600 ad pages, it lacked entries from the cosmetics, home furnishings and fashion categories. The Woman's Day woman had "egg yolk on her blouse, her hair in curlers and hit her sexual climax by spraying Pledge on furniture," Mr. Burzon says.
He knew the look had to change, and as he rose through the ranks -- to Eastern ad manager and then to ad director -- it did. By 1974 Woman's Day was in first place in the women's service field with 1,393 ad pages.
When Mr. Burzon left Woman's Day in the early '80s as VP-associate publisher, he had set a foundation of good staff members who matched his level of competition, ambition, intensity and hard work.
"I had to make myself a success," he says. "I was born poor and told myself, 'I ain't going back.' "
With that attitude, he set the stage by taking chances on young, driven unknowns to fill his staff.
Bob Mate, now VP-publishing director at Meredith Corp. who started at Woman's Day as a junior salesman in 1976, says, "The attitude in hiring was: let's look for people who can become stars."
Today, those fledgling account managers and sales reps are the stars of publishing. Most of them remember Woman's Day as the real training ground.
HEAD OF 'COSMO'
Donna Kalajian Lagani, now senior VP-publisher of Cosmopolitan, remembers badgering Mr. Burzon for nine months before he hired her. Young and inexperienced, she wanted to be part of what she believed to be the best sales staff around in 1979.
"At that time, Woman's Day was considered to be the creme de la creme of magazines and sales," Ms. Kalajian Lagani says. "I thought, why not shoot for the stars?"
Mr. Burzon finally hired her as a junior salesperson."I learned to set high standards, to never take no for an answer, to be customer-conscious," she says. "Woman's Day was idea-oriented before the business was idea-driven."
Mr. Burzon's staff-building was only the first step. The coach-player relationship he had with his employees was based on a game plan that was simple yet ahead of the curve: "Know your product. Show your product. Sell your product."
And he was serious about it.
When Woman's Day didn't have any Clairol business, and the other women's service books had close to 150 pages, he put pressure on his staff to get Clairol ads. That year they secured six pages, which grew to 86. But that wasn't enough for Mr. Burzon. He enrolled himself and a salesman in Clairol Hair Coloring and Hair Care School.
After two weeks of shampooing, cutting and coloring, they knew the product.
Jan Studin, current publisher of Woman's Day who was hired in 1982 as a saleswoman, says the magazine's entire management group was consistently vigilant and progressive about staff training, a commitment that she carries on today.
SALES TRAINING PROGRAM
"We were one of the first magazine's to start a sales-training program," Ms. Studin says, and remembers witnessing out-of-the-box selling before it was commonplace.
"It's about sitting down and understanding our clients' business and our clients' needs," she says.
That meant even if it required going to beauty school.
The smart hiring and good training didn't end with the Burzon era, however. The Woman's Day generation to follow in the '80s had Peter Diamandis as its leader, a seasoned publisher who joined the Woman's Day family as publisher in 1982.
Mr. Diamandis, like Mr. Burzon, was committed to hiring smart people, regardless of their previous experience, and he looked for three things when interviewing: energy, judgment and creativity. He brought good people to the table, and according to him, they did the rest.
But the thing Mr. Diamandis remembers most about his time at Woman's Day was the fun they had.
"The whole thing was based on having a good time," Mr. Diamandis says. "It just seemed that the more fun we had, the better we got."
That sentiment is echoed by the magazine's illustrious alumni. To discuss Woman's Day with these publishing icons is to hear reminisces of parties, social outings, but most of all -- wild sales meetings.
Anne Sutherland Fuchs, senior VP-group publishing director at Hearst, went to Woman's Day in 1982 as VP-publisher of the magazine's special interest group, becoming publisher of the magazine three years later.
She recalls one meeting where Mr. Mate and Greg Coleman, now president of the magazine division at Reader's Digest, donned Blues Brothers outfits and went around the room asking how many pages the salesmen would sell that year. The promise was a total of 300 additional ad pages.
Ms. Fuchs challenged Mr. Mate and Mr. Coleman: "You get those pages and I'll buy you each a Rolex." At that, Mr. Mate broke the watch he was wearing. The team came close to 300 pages, and the magazine had its most profitable year. Ms. Fuchs bought a Rolex for everyone, "and the place went wild," she says.
"I remember working very hard, having fun and working fast," says Joe Lagani, VP-group publisher at Meredith who joined Woman's Day in 1985 as a salesman. He and the other members of the sales team used to joke: "In five, 10 years, we'll all be publishers."