Part of www.writerssecrets.com Article Series with articles for every occasion.
Author’s program note. To be honest with you, I hated working for people. I hated taking orders. I hated doing the things my bosses wanted me to… rather than the things I wanted to do. And as for the word “boss” it made me sick. So, I had only these choices: grin and bear it, working for the man because I needed the bucks… becoming a beach bum… or working for myself. And that, of course, is the alternative I selected… because knuckling under just doesn’t work for me… and I burn way too easily and was always bored laying around outside.
Thus becoming a (rich) entrepreneur was my only alternative. Yes, rich because failure was never an option. But how to pull it off?
Donna Summer helps.
In 1983, Disco Diva Donna Summer, the notorious Queen of every night and desire, came out with a song that forced the attention of every person who saw life and its golden options slipping away while they stayed in the indentured servitude called a job. To get started, Donna had herself run away from everything she knew in Boston seeking destiny. As such she made the choice as clear as clear could be. Keep bending the knee and saying “yes sir” to a jack ass… or exercise your God- given right to fly and fly high. It was your choice, she said. Seize it.
The tune was “She Works Hard For The Money”… and Donna spat it out, challenging the folks in her audience who said they wanted more… but just couldn’t break away from their dead-beat reality.
But I could. I had to. My back was against the wall. The very best position to be in to start one’s trek to success. And so I quit my hated day job as a college administrator and took the Red Line to Park Street. I walked up Beacon Hill, where so many of the aspiring had walked over the centuries and plunked down $100 to file my corporate papers. It was my last, my only $100, and my pride (to say nothing else) made failure unthinkable because had it occurred its consequences would have been unendurable.
And so I embraced success like the life preserver it was. For me, this meant writing. Over the course of my life I have written 18 books and over a thousand articles. But not one of these scribblings is as important as “The Consultant’s Kit: Establishing and Operating Your Successful Consulting Business.” It was the little seed from which everything else grew.
From the very first moment I arrived in Cambridge in the fall of 1969, I realized that I’d need extra money to supplement the fellowship Harvard gave me to pay for my graduate studies. The easiest way for me to get it was to teach, and so I established a beneficial relationship with BCAE, which soon discovered that my ideas for classes pulled in the students and made them money. Thus, they were always receptive to my suggestions, one of which was a full-day Saturday workshop on consulting. It was popular right from the start. But there was a problem… I talked much faster than the participants could write… and they were always complaining about how much they were missing and “Could you please slow down, Dr. Lant?”
The solution was not slowing down… it was writing, and as quickly as possible, a book that offered every step you needed to take to become a successful, money- making problem-solver. In those dim, distant days this is how I did it: I wrote the book by hand, then typed the pages, a bottle of miracle-working white-out always near at hand. Then I took it to the copy-shop in Harvard Square… where I arranged to pick up 30 copies or so on my way to the workshop. I couldn’t wait to see the fruit of my brain and nimble fingers.
“Dr. Jerry Lant.”
But when I saw the book, bound in heavy blue construction paper, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It said “by Dr. Jerry Lant.” My composure melted…
You see, for my entire life many people have pronounced my name “Jerry” although it most clearly isn’t. And today this error caused real pain and acute irritation. The copy meister checked the work order, saw it was his problem, and went to work with a will, ripping off the covers. “Don’t worry, sir. We’ll fix the problem. How much time have we got? HOW MUCH?” And so I entered the self-publishing business ripping my cherished volume to accommodate new covers…
… which were delivered on time but wet… and smeared… and woebegone.
But here’s the punch line: at day’s end, I had, at $35 per copy, over $1000 in my hand, a fortune. But more important was the fact even in their primitive presentation they sold at a very profitable price, thereby indicating that I was on the right road. The question was whether I would continue to publish the book myself or enter into a contract with a traditional publishing company.
About this time a friend introduced me to a very energetic and hard-working book agent who was looking to build his portfolio and income. He looked like “the cat in the hat” and was as imaginative and insinuating. A consultant himself, he liked “The Consultant’s Kit” at once and asked me if he could peddle it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, I agreed. And about as quick as the Emperor Augustus said “boiled asparagus”, he told me he had a publisher for me, a big one. Could I come to New York and ink the deal? I was on the LaGuardia shuttle in no time… and was soon shaking hands with my certain-to-be editor at McGraw Hill, the largest business book publisher in the world. My Harvard- honed ego had the right publisher… or had it?
The publisher waxed poetic, the agent seconded his every word… a sizable advance, which I could well use, was promised… all that was missing was my signature. But the more I heard, the less I wanted to proceed. You see, if the largest business book publisher on earth liked my book, why shouldn’t I keep publishing it myself… getting far more than standard commissions, reaping all?
And so I startled both these gentlemen by saying no. Whereupon the cat pulled me into the corridor and gave me a ringing piece of his mind, I can hear to this day. “Are you crazzeeeee man?” Back in the editor’s office, he uttered the most telling of put-downs: “But you know nothing about publishing, nothing about distribution.” My response, “I can learn.”
And so I kissed the biggest advance of my life good-bye and left Manhattan hearing their lurid predictions and imprecations ringing in my brain.
“This book is better than sex!”, real marketing muscle.
Having made my bed so must I now lay in it, and here inspiration struck. For I had a friend who was always pestering me to help get him a better job than being a waiter. Now I had one… and by the next day, he was outfitted in a skin tight t-shirt emblazoned with a picture of the book and these magnetic words: “This book is better than sex!” His job was to take his hunky physique and show it off in every one of Harvard Square’s then-numerous book stores, posing and smiling until he had an order.
And if there were questions, he was to call me and we’d sort it out as we went. “What is our discount rate?” “What was our returns policy?” We worked it out question by question as he smiled, flexed, and got orders… and, more importantly sales, for this baby sold like hot cakes, even at Harvard Business School where one irritated professor asked me in the snidest possible way why my book, however ungainly, sold where his more learned tome did not. “Because I show them how the real world works and how they can master it for maximum gain… and yours doesn’t.” He left fuming…
Over $1,000,000 in my pocket.
Thus my empire grew and prospered, built on guts, bulging biceps and a willingness to do whatever it took… “The Consultant’s Kit” alone netting me over a cool million dollars. And like Donna Summer, I did it while dancing, for “working hard for the money” would never be enough…. joy and bliss needed to be part of the mix, and with me they always were. Go now to any search engine and listen to the lady and prepare to dance. It’s what successful entrepreneurs do.. and gladly so.
by Dr.Jeffrey Lant
About the Author
Dr. Jeffrey Lant is known worldwide. He started in the media business when he was 5 years old, a Kindergartner in Downers Grove, Illinois, publishing his first newspaper article. Since then Dr. Lant has earned four college degrees, including the PhD from Harvard. He has taught at over 40 colleges and universities, quite possibly the first to offer satellite courses. He has written over 20 books, thousands of articles and been a welcome guest on hundreds of radio and television programs. He has founded several successful corporations and businesses including his latest at …writerssecrets.com
His memoirs “A Connoisseur’s Journey” have garnered five prizes that ensure its classic status. Its subtitle is “Being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck, and joy.” You’ll enjoy the read by this man of so many letters. Such a man can offer you thousands of insights into the business of becoming a successful writer. Be sure to sign up now at www.writerssecrets.co
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