Proudly presented from www.writerssecrets.com Article Series
by Dr. Jeffrey Lant
So you, like everybody else in the world, wants a million bucks or more? Well, don’t you? You certainly give a good impression, going around the neighborhood bragging because in your mind, to say you want a million dollars is the same thing as having a million dollars. But that is nonsense.
You say you want that million, so I ask you one simple question: what are you actually doing to get it? And here, this becomes a long, sad saga of “I coulda been a contendah”, Marlon Brando’s famous line from “On the Waterfront” (1954). Just as Terry Malloy had no greater chance of being a contender than the man in the moon, you’ve never done squat to make one thousand dollars, much less a million. And that’s why I’m writing this article.
Through my entire career in business, now going back 40 years or more, I have been observing the habits of those who purport to want the money, and nothing but the money, so help me God. The results are notable, staggering, and really downright pathetic. That’s where Jim Bocci, gym rat, is so pertinent to your life, as it was pertinent to mine when I started my publishing company in the 1980’s.
“Help me, doctah!”
In the days long ago, when I used to go out for lunch, I became a regular at one of Cambridge’s long gone bistros. There, I soon came to know all the staff members, and even some of the regulars who came in less for the pastrami than the chance to socialize (this was of course in the days before Facebook, which is showing all of us that none of us ever needs to socialize in person – what a dumb idea).
Jim and I struck up a conversation, the kind of conversation that distinguishes lunch wagons. “Hi, howaya?” It was friendly, and expected in those dim distant days, when real people mattered.
Meet Jim Bocci
Jim was the kind of person who was often to be found in college towns like Cambridge. He was young, over developed physically, and constantly baffled and confused intellectually. He went to the gym everyday, and soon had more muscles than you could shake a stick at, muscles… but nowhere to put them.
So everytime I came in, he asked me the same question: “Doctah! Have you got a job for me? I know yous is a very important person.” Of course, it was never established what kind of a job I could theoretically get him, but apparently, any port in a storm. He wanted out, he would take whatever there was, at least in theory.
About this time I wrote a book called “The Consultant’s Kit: Establishing and Operating Your Successful Consulting Business”. I wrote it to accompany my courses on consulting at the Boston Center for Adult Education. The courses were always packed, and the complaint was constant. “Dr. Lant you talk too fast and I cannot keep up!”
Now changing my galloping style of presentation wasn’t in the cards. I talked fast because I had a lot to say. Writing a book was the alternative. So I sat down at my trusty Olivetti typewriter and set to work. The result was predictable: typos, letters that flew off the page… in short, a real home-grown effort. But what to do? Give it away with the course? Or sell it independently?
As a bold, brash, young entrepreneur, I chose packing it between two blue construction paper covers, and selling it for $35, a fortune.
My wise friends all said “You’ll never sell that for $35… You probably won’t be able to give it away.”, which is all the encouragement I ever got. You see, like most people, the so called experts around me didn’t know tutti from frutti, and thought that mouthing off was the end of the deal, and of my dream. But here they were wrong, so wrong.
I took the typescript over to a copy shop in Harvard Square and printed up 40 copies, which was an act of pure madness given the fact I had no publishing experience, had never written a business book, and was operating by the seat of my pants, destination unclear, means of getting there unknown. Well… I was on my way, whatever that meant under the circumstances.
When the copy shop brought out the books, I saw the next obstacle: my name was spelled wrong on the cover. In big black letters, it said “Dr. Jerry Lant.” First, I was aghast, then I wanted to break down and cry… after all the program started in an hour or so. The proprietor, when he looked in his order book, acknowledged that it was his error and would be glad to change those covers. The problem was that it all had to be done in 60 minutes or so.
The proprietor went to work right away and fixed the error, but left the covers wet with black ink. And so, 35 copies or so of this bold adventure were stacked up in the corner of the room waiting for a miracle.
I stood at the front of the room, and with gusto and brass, held up a copy of the book and said “This is the consulting Bible.” And, as if by magic, people started to shove $35 at me. Within 10 minutes, I’d made over a thousand bucks. And folks, this was 1980’s money, which is worth over $100 a piece in today’s money. And you’ll hardly believe this statement and think I made it up, but the God’s honest truth was I didn’t have a single book left!
Now my momma didn’t raise no dum-dums. I knew I saw the glint of gold, and as a yankee doodle dandy, I was duty bound to pursue it. Enter Jim Bocci… muscles gleaming, hair Brilliantined, teeth bright and shiny. That’sa my boy! “Jim,” I said, “I think I may have something for you. Stay tuned.”
Are you an idiot?
Along the way, I had made the acquaintance of a book agent, at least he thought he was. This guy looked like the Cat in the Hat. Mischief was his name, outsmarting everyone his game. He smelled money in “The Consultant’s Kit”, and demanded the opportunity to represent it to major publishers for some quick and easy money.
A quick trip to New York was scheduled, and mega publisher McGraw-Hill headed the list of targets.
“We love you, boy!”
My first and only trip to McGraw-Hill was a love fest… at least it started out that way. The editor was all sweetness and light; cotton candy and chocolate bars all wrapped into one. He lavished praise on me that would make my mother blush, and the Cat just purred and agreed with everything. After all, he was getting at least 15% of the gross. Dollars were flagrantly used as bait… and then the coup de grace. McGraw-Hill’s best whipped out a check for $10,000 already made with my name on it. It smelled like Chanel No. 5. This was the jour de ma vie.
And here’s where it all changed, and the kisses stopped.
I thanked McGraw’s representative, and my representative for their interest, and then said to their offer and that hefty check “No way, Jose!” Whereupon the room grew glacial fast.
Now, I was the stupidest boy they’d ever seen. The boy who knew nothing about anything, probably fraudulently admitted to Harvard with a criminal record to boot. It was all so very different from the moment before. The pressure was palpable, and their arguments, while exaggerated, were not unreasonable. I didn’t know anything about publishing or distribution or anything else. Except that I was that yankee doodle dandy with a taste for fast learning.
Just before we finished the Cat took me to the hall for some major league ass-kicking. “You friggin’ moron!” was about the least obscene of his remarks. And so I headed back to LaGuardia without a friend in the publishing world… except for Jim Bocci.
My first stop when I got back to Cambridge was the restaurant where Jim worked as a waiter. I saw him right away. He used his usual wave and flex number. But this time, I paid attention. I thought to myself, “Why not? Why couldn’t he sell books? He’s got the gift of gab, and wants to improve himself. And God knows my books improve everything.”
So I crossed the floor and for the first time, paid attention. “Jim,” I said, “How would you like to be a publishers representative.” I’d seen more questioning eyes in my whole life. “What does that mean, doctah?” “It means Jim, that you’ll have the important task of representing me before the world.” “No prob!”
The missing link.
Genius takes many forms. Sometimes it’s just dumb luck. Sometimes right place right time. Some, kismet. In this case, it was a yellow t-shirt with killer content. Side one: “This book is better than sex”; Side two: a picture of the book.
The t-shirts were ready in 24 hous, by which time I figured out what Jim should be doing, namely which book stores he should be going to and what he should say when he got there. Nothing could be left to chance. The piece de resistance were those sweat-soaked muscles. When you added the book, the body, and the brawn, you had, voila, a sale!
Now maybe I shouldn’t tell you this, but I want you to do well so I’ll tell you the full extent of my ingenuity. I had Jim flex and wink at every dateless boy and girl in Harvard Square, and that was a lot. Imagine if you will, the entry of publishing’s newest representative. Swaggers in, flexes left, flexes right, and the big finale, bounces pecs. And then, the order.
It was sheer genius because, in a matter of 60-90 minutes, my second batch of books was gone. I mean, presto, gone! The representative of Harvard Business School, the citadel of business writing for the entire world, called me up that afternoon and with complete bafflement, said, “I went off to lunch and we had 10 copies of this. I come back an hour later (she actually took a longer lunch than that, but who’s counting?) and they’re all gone! What’s that all about?”
Oh lordy I wish I had someone to dance with at that moment. I would have done a jig around Harvard Square. One business school professor stopped me and said, “I haven’t sold 35 copies of my book in these stores period. How did you do it?” And he didn’t ask the question in friendship. He, too, was baffled. “How did I do it? Sex, man. Sex sells.”
Do what you have to do.
Frankly, I was ecstatic after I was handed the solid evidence that this book would be a big winner. And so it has been from that day to this. But more than that, it proved to me that if you want to make a sale, you act like a salesperson and do the trick. Don’t give in, don’t give up, and don’t over promise.
Well, I’m an old guy now, almost 70, but I have the chutzpah of an out-of-control 18 year old. “How do ya do ma’am? How do ya do sir? How about getting this book?”
In due course.
Over the years, this magic book has netted me over $1,000,000. As for Jim, I hope he reads this article. I’d like to thank you in person, for using your body and your God given talents to help me out and make me rich.
And if you’re one of those people who is yappin’ about making millions, ask yourself one question: would you flex and wear a t-shirt to make the sale? Or would you just sit around and talk about the money you’ll make when you’re doing nothing to make it?
I’ve got to go now. But before I leave, let me tell you one important thing. If you’re one of those yappers, don’t yap in my neighborhood. Do something. And the something that makes the most sense, is for you to get a copy of “The Consultant’s Kit: Establishing and Operating Your Successful Consulting Business”, and the sequel to it, “How To Make At Least $100,000 Every Year As A Successful Consultant In Your Own Field: The Complete Guide To Succeeding In The Advice Business”. You can get them at:
Now I’ve got to give you my considered opinion. You’ll probably never do this. But if you don’t, you’re trapped where you are. Just don’t blame anyone but yourself for doing nothing and getting nothing. And isn’t that a chipper thought for the rest of your life.
It’s all there in this terrific motivating song. I am a yankee doodle dandy, are you?
About the author
You know Dr. Jeffrey Lant. He’s Harvard educated, has written over 55 books and thousands of articles, and tells it like it is. For further information about his produces, go to www.writerssecrets.com.