Best in Show

The business I worked for some time ago was acquired by a large, multi-national company, and we were initially maintained as an independent subsidiary including our own sales channel. We were requested to maintain the separation from the parent company especially with regards to their sales channel. However, we had some very interesting brushless servo products that the parent company did not have, and there was widespread interest from the parent’s sales force to have access to our products. However, as explained before, the answer for the present was no.

There was one sales manager from an Asian country (Taiwan) that was very persistent and creative concerning the servo products. He finally got permission for us to display our products in his booth at a local tradeshow with the agreement that they could not sell anything but just gauge the interest from customers. I was asked to attend the show to answer any questions that customers might have about the products. Interest was intense and when it came time to pack up the products I was asked by the sales manager if he could just purchase the show products for resale to select customers. After much discussion back and forth, I finally agreed, deciding I would just have to handle any political issues after returning to the home office.

As expected, many management discussions ensued with the final outcome being to allow our products into this one country with certain commercial guidelines. Mission accomplished and I’m on to new frontiers – or so I thought. Several weeks later the manager of our repair department came to my office to review a very strange situation. A large number of our servo products were being returned by the Asian branch of our parent company with the complaint simply being that the products wouldn’t run. The strange part that our manager wanted to review with me was that none of the motors had any laminations, windings, magnets, encoders or any other internal parts – just housing, bearings, and shaft. She had never seen any products returned before that had been stripped of all the internal parts.

It was then that I suddenly realized that I had sold all of our “tradeshow” servo products to my friend in Asia – dummy products that, to keep the weight down for transport to and from tradeshows, looked good but didn’t function. I’ll never know if anyone ever believed it was a complete oversight on my part and not a plan to deal with a very persistent salesman!


1. Home Alone
A homeowner went to the hardware store to purchase a common household item. She found that she could buy 1 for $0.50, 12 for $1.00, and 144 for $1.50. What was she buying?

2. Think Inside the Box
Can you assemble these 8 pieces into a 6 x 6 square?


3. Think Inside the Box II
Can you cut the figure below into four pieces that will fit together to form a square?


4. Think Inside the Box III
Can you cut this “E” into 5 pieces that will form a perfect square? Each colored section is a square and all are identical in size. You may rearrange and rotate only, no flipping.

Extra credit: Can you do it with only 4 pieces if you are allowed to flip any of the pieces?


Click Here for Brainteaser Answers