Not Chosen, Just Posin'

I just got a job with a Jewish magazine. I'm not Jewish. They think I am.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Once upon a time, I was offered the opportunity to work for John, the author of the book above [not putting his last name because I don't want him to Google it and find me - plus, it's on the book]. Had I accepted the offer, I would have been part of the marketing team that landed him at #1 on Barnes& (and possibly others, but I never cared enough to check).

The gist of John's book was that he was an Israeli street kid who came from nothing and arrived at something. He used to work in bathhouses, where he listened to the men chat about their investments and money Ultimately he decided that he wanted to be rich. The book outlines the steps he took to arrive at that goal.

After I met with John and took home his manuscript, I decided to turn down the job. To me, the book was too simply written. The story was your cookie cutter "rags to riches" one and I thought he was a bit pompous. Plus, he only wanted to pay me $10/hour part time. While my dad always said that people don't get rich by giving away their money, John's book launch party - which I attended - was the icing on the cake. He provided cheap wine and store-bought sushi. If you could have seen this guy's mansion, you would understand how this was illogical. I was always glad I declined his offer.

The only reason I mention John is because he exemplifies the ever-popular "I started from nothing," schtick that many successful people tend to spew like gospel. My boss, for one, is a fine example. Whenever he has a friend or potential advertiser stop by the office, I hear the same thing over and over: "You see this room right here." Here he points to where he's standing and draws an invisible circle around his person. "This used to be the entire office. I've built everything you see here. When I started, I was working nights as a busboy and my wife was temping at a law firm." I also like this one: "I'm a humble man, from humble beginnings." But, my all-time favorite has to be, "Who woulda thought this was all possible? You know - a little Israeli kid..." I'll have to admit that his strong accent adds an endearing touch. The twinkle in the eye thing though? Quit while you're ahead, bub.

I've only been working here a couple weeks and I've heard enough speeches to last a man a life time. I assume that at my review I'll get a personalized version. "Son, you can build an empire of your own one day. There's a lot you could learn from a man like me."

Is that supposed to be impressive? Don't most people start from nothing? Don't most people have to start at the bottom to get to the top? While there are few exceptions, most people don't own a magazine at birth. Congratulations, you're a hardworker! As for this whole humility act? It's gotta stop. Didn't anybody ever tell you that too much humility is actually a form of narcissism? Well, probably not, because I just made it up.

On that note, do you need a literary agent? I know a bestseller when I see one.

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