Watch That Skill!

A group of young people recently invited me to join the Advisory Board of their company. Smart as they were, they sent something I couldn’t say no to — even if time issues meant I couldn’t agree to join the board formally (I’m still thinking about the invitation — and Ugo’s doing a great job at that). The gift they sent — brought by a young lady who leaves a strong impression of how far their company will obviously go — was a VCD that had Business eBooks for Leaders, CEOs and Managers clearly written on it. In addition to the two books presently under my reading lights (The Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness, both written by Nassim Nicholas Taleb), I popped the VCD in the drive and wow… there was Larry King saying, “… come on, I know you want to click on my eBook, ‘How to talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime’” and of course, I fell for it. How could I say no to the king of talk?

The first few minutes of the eBook discussed the relationship between employers and employees, and I’m glad I listened. Then, the story that touched my writing nerve: the story of how Larry’s friend, now a professional negotiator, started his career by turning an awful situation into a remarkable first experience with clients! Larry and two other friends in High School learnt about a school-mate who had to move to another area for health reasons. They were quick to spread the word but what they did was to say the guy had died! They collected money for flowers and went off to their favourite hang out spot to spend the money. Next was the killer action — they told the head of the school that their colleague had died and the school set up an event to honour the dead.

The guy returned to school on the day of the event! The head of the school invited Larry and his friends to his office. “You are suspended forever! You won’t graduate today, tomorrow… ever!” While two of them thought that was the end and they were thinking of the possibility of spending their lives behind bars, the negotiator among them stepped in. Allow me to paraphrase: “Doc, I think you should reconsider this decision. While we agree that our education ends here and now, what about your career?” Now, what was this boy up to? “Doc, you know when you send us off, there will be a hearing. At the hearing, it’d be tough for you to convince everyone that you made your judgment based on the story you were told by 3 thirteen year olds before writing ‘deceased’ beside a student’s name in the register.” I don’t need to tell you that even though the professor tried hard to argue, the deal was sealed with this: “Doc, it may be easy to send us off. But while we’ll be out of school, you’re on your way to being out of a job. I think we should assume all these never happened.”

Talk about discovering your calling early in life. That young man now travels 200 days in a year negotiating for America’s largest companies! Hmm, now I smile thinking of what I also went through at the age of 13 — my computer access denial that fuelled the passion to learn more about computers! Well, I think it pays to pay attention to the talents displayed by young people because that could just explain what the world will come to identify them with. The young men and women who’ve asked for quite some portion of my time have shown a strong passion for getting information to those who need it. Will I be surprised if Lanre and Martina (and the other members of the team) appear on Larry King Live or on Oprah to discuss their passion? Not exactly… never under-estimate what a young person can become!

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