Another two months pass and I get a call from a morning news anchor at a new show called “Good Morning America”. I had briefly met with him when I was at the university. He had been under a written contract with one of those other agencies, they had not produced, and his written contract had expired. At his invitation, I went to see him, we shook hands and I agreed to represent him.
On the drive back to the closet, I suddenly realized that I had not signed him to a written contract like all the other agencies. When I got back, I tried to justify it to my wife by saying “Well, what good would it do to sign him a piece of paper if he was not happy.” That mistake on my part, that error in judgment, became a defining moment for us because that news anchor went and told his friends, other Washington journalists, that “If you are not happy signing a written contract with another agency (which holds you to them for years), you can shake hands with this new little agency in town and walk away from them anytime you want.” Over a period of months, thanks to that mistake, we soon represented a half dozen Washington journalists on handshakes.
We were on our way.
Two years later we were having some moderate success, and new success, when you’re not used to it, breeds temptation. So I was naturally tempted and thinking of ways to cut corners, do anything to make success happen faster.
About the same time, we are trying to recruit a football coach at the University of Minnesota named Lou Holtz. At first Lou said no to us but later sent me a letter saying “I have two in-boxes on my desk, one for football and one for speeches. The in-box for speeches is now twice as tall as the in-box for football, and if I am going to be successful as a coach, I need to concentrate on football. So I have changed my mind and you can represent me. I asked only three things “Can I trust you? Are you committed to excellence? Do you care about me?”
It was typical of Lou Holtz and he probably put those questions in every letter he wrote. So I put the letter on my desk to file it away and it stayed there for hours, and then days. I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t file it away. And then it came to me. “Can I trust you? Are you committed to excellence? Do you care about me?” They were the very reason I wanted to start a business on my own in the first place.
What Lou’s words taught me was that “There are no short cuts to long term success!”
And then another person came into my life, another defining moment and my life changed again.
About the Author: Bernie SWAIN is one of Your Monthly Mentors, the founder of the pre-eminent lecture agency in the world, Washington Speakers Bureau. Over the last thirty-five years, Washington Speakers Bureau has represented three US Presidents, four prime ministers of Great Britain, countless American and world leaders, business and economic visionaries, authors, media personalities, and sports legends. In 2016, Bernie released his new book, What Made Me Who I Am. Today, Bernie remains Chairman of WSB and travels with Paula, his wife for 41 years, and spends time with their 3 children. Bernie also speaks and writes extensively. Read More…