Gene Simmons wrote an amazing book called Sex Money Kiss a few years ago, and I regard it as a must-read manifesto for anyone whose ambition is greater than that of the average bear. In it, he repeatedly laments the difficulties he sometimes experiences trying to negotiate business deals with people who have no head for business. In particular, I recall one incident where Ace Frehley allegedly refused to play a certain special-event KISS gig because of some sort of legal-wrangling-nonsense that achieved nothing but shooting himself financially in the foot. Gene said something (paraphrasing from memory here) to the effect of "we played the show without him, of course, and though he would've made a fortune had he played that one gig, he chose to lose out. The decisions you make affect your income, and he made his decision to not have any".
I definitely feel ya, Gene. In these economic times of near-recession, I am continually astounded and frustrated at how many people out there do not respond properly to the noble gentlemanly tradition (hallowed by usage and consecrated by time) of "money talks". Somehow, the times we live in have fostered a spoiled and flaky mentality in which putting a fistful of dollars in someone's hand still won't guarantee results.
Gene cautions, "Most of my projects will fail. So will yours." He notes that you just have to keep juggling a lot of different balls in the air in order to get anything done in the end. And it's increasingly clear to me that the reason is not because of the relative merits of the ideas, but because of the inability of so many people to follow through with even the simplest of instructions. I see now why Gene does everything himself whenever possible.
I really do lay awake at night thinking about this problem, and worrying that the population's intelligence and ability to function are being seriously impaired by crap like Splenda and Nutrasweet, outgassing plastics, and cellphone-tower radiation. It's starting to get like that Stephen King short story where everyone on Earth became dysfunctionally dumb at the end.
Two recent deals I've been working on behind the scenes are at the point where I'm about to give up on them, because the other people involved did not do what they said they would do. One's a major branding project that was already a done deal by a handshake, and yet the people at this company that will not be named have completely flaked on me at the last minute. For reasons unknown, they have chosen to not follow through on our agreement. Oddly, the deal was one with zero investment on their part - it would have cost them no money at all and I was prepared to write them a hefty check for several thousand dollars to get the ball rolling. As the saying goes, it's their loss, not mine.
Another deal involves a certain person getting some crucial information to me in a timely manner, regarding a deal that was this person's own idea in the first place and I agreed to help. The point is well past when this crucial data was required to have been delivered to me, but it hasn't. And communication has been minimal to nil, despite my repeated "hellooo, what's going on here?" e-mails. And so I'm going to have to withdraw. (And yet, in their minds, they'll probably see it as me being the one who flaked.)
There are still other deals in danger of collapsing due to someone else's flakiness, but I won't be pedantic and detail them all. There have always been slackers on the planet, of course - I've dropped the ball on many things in years past myself, but not things for which I was being paid a huge sum of money. Money was always, and is still, a surefire way to temporarily cure my natural born laziness.
The 21st century seems to be a brave new world where, unlike the old Frank Sinatra days, slipping a wad of bills into someone's palm will not guarantee you enhanced service or VIP treatment. I do have one business ally, however, who is so go-go-go and on the ball that it even makes my head spin how she juggles it all. When she says "I'm on it", I know that she really is, and that I can put the matter out of my head and go work on other things.
If only I could clone her!
- - JSH