Image by US Army Africa
Klondike Cab Callahan
There are times when surviving a minute is an accomplishment. Then there are those times when surviving an hour is a victory. If you string together twenty-four of those hours, you have what my days have been like. At this moment, I am counting off seconds and considering every second that I don’t reach across the desk and strangle my “potential”client a victory.
How, you might ask, did I come to be in this position? Poor career choices. First, I chose to be a doctor. Then, I chose to be a consultant. Looking back, I can see that a more rewarding and satisfying career would have involved proofreading M&Ms for the Mars Candy Corporation. Of course, I probably would end up getting fired for shutting down a production line because someone screwed up and was producing W&W instead. What I wouldn’t have been doing was listening to a broken down platform speaker insulting me. My last client, Abby Norman the “Wealthy Mormon,”had been armed, medicated, drunk, and depressed when I met him. He had been provoking and utterly infuriating. He is also on the New York Times bestsellers list now and he is selling over a million dollars a month in product. He is now a daytime talk show circuit guest who is in demand. Granted, the IRS is auditing every penny he made and there are still lawsuits from his old companies to contend with, but he is back to his winning ways. Who does he have to thank for all of that? Me. What did I have to show for all of that? About $600 in the bank and a stack of bills that are past due.
So, being the glutton for punishment that I am, I’ve gone back to what didn’t work the first time- turning around a motivational speaker’s career. My potential client, Klondike Cab Callahan, is a member of the “old school”motivational speaker’s generation. A vet from the Korean War and part of an ever dwindling number of living people who heard or worked with Napoleon Hill. His signature as a speaker was his strong, carrying voice, a pugnacious attitude, bright red hair, and tailor-fitted suits. The hair has faded to white. The suits are showing wear. The voice is still carrying and he remains pugnacious. So much so, that he is, at this very moment, insulting me.
“You’ve failed to be a significant specific,”Klondike said.
Harsh words from one of the granddaddies of the speaking, publishing, and consulting game. Klondike has, in his day, filled stadiums on every continent, sold millions of units of product a year, and been a guest on the biggest talk television programs in history. I would be devastated if I’d paid $10,000 dollars to have this pronouncement made over my professional life. But as he is sitting in my Gulf Gate office in Sarasota, Florida with his career in the toilet, I see no reason to take it personally.
“Fine, ‘spose yer right,”Klondike said.
“Thank you,”I said.
The meeting had fallen into this pattern. I made productive suggestions, Klondike insulted me, ranted, and then finally conceded the point. What I needed to get out of him for any of this to work was payment. Like every other one of these speakers, Klondike was fast to demand performance but slow to pay for valuable services. People who had charged thousands of dollars for tapes and videos on how to acquire real estate with no money, parted grudgingly with currency. So much so that with Klondike pinching pennies so hard, I would be lucky to end up with more than a few bits of copper wire.
“But Cusper, ya still haven’t closed me,”Klondike said.
“Klondike,”I said. “I would love the opportunity to help you re-launch your career. I believe that if you were repositioned, you could extend your reach across multiple platforms and with an overhaul of your product line, you could be back to moving millions of units of product.”
“That is all fine and good,”he drawled. “But I’m gonna want a guarantee.”
“What guarantee specifically are you wanting, Klondike?”I asked the man whose company had never refunded a payment in sixty years.
“I want a performance guarantee of everything you said, and a show on A&E,”he said.
“A show on A&E?”I said.
“Yep. I’m just as interesting as any of those folks; they make shows about ducks and scavengers and what not. I want a show about me. Call it King Klondike Master Speaker.”
Again, I was counting each second as a victory. “What you are saying, and please correct me if I’m wrong, is that you want a guarantee from me not only for performance on everything we’ve discussed (the product overhaul, the re-launch, and the promotional tour), but you want me to promise you a show on A&E, all for the $10,000 retainer fee?”
“Klondike, tempting as that is, I’m going to take a pass,”I said, getting up from behind my desk.
“You got no anchor boy, no anchor whatsoever,”Klondike said, not moving from the seat.
“Klondike, what I have is no time for looky loos and tire kickers,”I said.
“Looky loo?! Yer calling me a looky loo?!? ”Klondike said.
I believe I could see some of the brilliant red returning to his now white hair.
“Yes, Klondike, I’m calling you a looky loo. If you don’t like what I’m offering, that’s fine. No hard feelings. But asking me to work for free, that’s just insulting,”I said.
“Ten thousand dollars is a lot of money,”he said.
“It’s just the retainer and it certainly won’t be the total. If you are serious about a show on cable, much less A&E, we are going to need to get in some major players. People who have pull, connections, and who are excited about the prospect of a King Klondike Master Speaker show,”I said.
“Well, all right,”Klondike said, jumping to his feet and grabbing my hand, “That’s what I’m talking about. Fire in the belly. You find the ways and I’ll find the means.”
Klondike was out the door before I could protest and there was a check sitting on my desk for ten thousand dollars. What the hell had I gotten myself into?
Text Copyright 2014 Cusper Lynn
Text Copyright 2014Hellbent Press
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