MINNEAPOLIS - John S. McCune learned to size up the competition as a youngster in Grand Island, Neb. As a newspaper delivery boy for the Omaha World-Herald, he would snatch subscriptions from other carriers' routes.

"I'd find out who the slackers were, and I'd go around their part of the neighborhood picking up subscriptions," Mr. McCune says. "That's where I learned I had a knack for selling."

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