What Is He Really Like?
It all started around fifteen years ago. At first, I was excited. My monthly sales results had rocketed ahead. They were miles above everyone else. My commissions were record breaking. People who knew me said I had clients to die for. They always asked about the famous ones, but I made it plain that those folks were just ordinary people. I said, “They aren’t aliens.” I’m not sure everyone agreed with me. When people in my industry asked about my technique, all I would say was that I worked hard, and I worked … hard. There was nothing more to it.
Then, the guy who owned my company made me an offer impossible to refuse. So, I didn’t. Together, we set up a separate business just for me. We agreed that we’d share the ownership 50:50.
I must have been born under a lucky star, because aside from my work, I have a large extended family with brothers and sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, and nephews, as well as their partners and kids. And, we stay close. Well, we did back then. We’d have summer holidays together in rural New York. We’d have big gatherings at Thanksgiving, Christmas, Labor Day, assorted birthdays, and anniversaries.
When word got around about my rise in the world of business, everyone was excited. There were congratulations and predictions of a strong, secure future for me, my wife, and our three kids. People made jokes about expecting more expensive presents at Christmas and hitting me up for loans.
Oh, I forgot to tell you. I sell insurance. I guess that sounds ordinary, but the thing is, I sell insurance for commercial space enterprises. These include businesses that make equipment, organize payloads, and some are working on chasing Richard and Jeff into the space travel business. Of course, they all admire or envy Elon’s extraordinary achievements. They would do anything to emulate those guys’ success.
So, the companies I deal with are out of this world. And, the fee scale is astronomical. I have met and worked with some big names. Almost every day, I have a brush with fame.
Business was booming and, at family gatherings, I would sometimes blurt out what this famous person said to me or what amazing income flows I was achieving. It took me a long while to realize that not everyone in the family found it as exciting as I did. A year or two later, some family members didn’t seem very interested at all. Their praise for me was thin and their aloofness increasingly obvious. It was the lack of eye-contact that made it clear. Even my brother Steve seemed at times to look through me as though I was from another world.
Unfortunately, the family mood shifted noticeably one Thanksgiving. While seated at the table, my eldest son, who was twelve at the time, told the whole family that we were buying a new home. It was in our town’s most expensive neighborhood. My aunt said, “Will you be sad to lose your current home?”
My son said, “Oh, we’re keeping it. And, Dad’s thinking of buying a vacation home in Florida.”
There were polite, muted “ooohs” and “mmmms.” Then, the topic was rapidly dropped. I thought I heard someone mumble, “Good for some.” I’m not sure who it was.
I talked to my mom about this and, like a wise owl, she zeroed in on the trouble. “Not everyone in the family is doing so well. No-one’s in any financial trouble. It’s just that they can’t compete with you. Your success automatically makes them look … ordinary. Anyway, for your health and happiness, you should ease back a little. Life is a marathon not a sprint.”
I took her sage advice. I started using excellent supports like MercurySays to get more done in less time. My estimate was that I put in two hours less work a day than I had before. By now, I had ten staff working for me and they noticed the change. I was more relaxed, more creative, and more sensitive. I spent more time socializing with them, and we shared gossip about some of the famous names who were our clients. It was inevitable that someone said about someone famous, “What are they really like?”
Then, in a strange way, my situation suddenly got worse. We secured a series of long-term contracts that were insanely lucrative, and now millions of dollars were flowing into our business. The value of my 50% share skyrocketed.
Somehow, word got out about our (or should I say “my”) success, and a magazine published a feature on me and my rising fortunes. However, I remembered my mom’s words and cut back my workload (and any hint of bragging). Of course, I was still using MercurySays and other technical supports to keep me close to my clients, so I got most daily jobs done in about five hours. The rest of the time, I wandered around the office. Made small talk. Drank too many coffees. Copied the behaviors, attitudes, and language of my staff, just to fit in. I thought it was working, but you can never be too sure. Afterall, I was the boss. People will automatically switch to “nice.”
Unfortunately, when I was visiting my parents, my brother Steve was there, too, with his kids. My loudmouth son told his cousins what was happening and showed the family the feature article. Some other family members turned up too, but the atmosphere was rather cool or, should I say, subdued. People kept their distance. Sometimes, I found myself sitting alone. I felt I was in some sort of trouble.
Then, the worst of all possible events occurred. A huge conglomerate offered to buy the business with me at the helm. The deal would shoot me into the ranks of the very wealthy. It was worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The news about the deal was on all the business channels and I was interviewed on a national television show. The anchor described my business as being focused on “the alien world of space.”
By now, my business partner and I were quite close, and I told him I felt like a bit of a fraud. I’d reduced my daily work routine down to about three hours. He laughed, saying that he barely worked more than that himself. “It’s the quality and type of work you do, not the hours.”
I knew he was right but I just had to say, “It’s like I’m in another world. The less I work, the more I make.”
He replied, “Maybe you really are an alien.”
We both laughed. We liked jokes about space.
Before the next family event (my mom and dad’s 50th wedding anniversary), I was full of concern. Everyone would know I was halfway to becoming a billionaire. Probably the ill-will would be palpable. There might be sarcastic comments. The old family spirit would almost certainly be waning, at least in relation to me.
But I struck a bit of luck. My mom had the bright idea of inviting her friends. My dad did the same. So, the gathering involved much more than just family members.
We hired a big room at a local hotel and had a brilliant feast. I paid for it all but made my parents swear they wouldn’t tell anyone. When the final course was cleared away and the last toasts had been made, everyone got up from the tables and mingled. It was nice. People chatting, laughing, reminiscing.
It was then that it happened. A couple of my mom’s friends were gathered in a group and I decided to join them. The conversation turned to the lavish event we’d experienced. One of the older ladies said, “Well, they have money, you know.”
A white-haired lady said: “Oh really? I hadn’t heard that.”
The first one nodded knowingly. “Yes.” Then, she mentioned my name. “I hear he’s a billionaire.”
Clearly, they were all a little shocked. The white-haired lady turned to me, “I’m sorry. We haven’t met. Are you a member of the family?”
I said, “Yes.” At this point, I was desperately wanting to escape, but it was too late.
She leaned forward conspiratorially, “Tell me. What’s he really like?” And, every one of them turned their gaze to me.
It was then that I knew I really was an alien.