Many years ago, being fascinated with TV and media, I read a book by a former talent coordinator for the Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. The name of the paperback was, “Johnny,.. Tonight”. Not a very original name, but a very interesting series of stories about how the Tonight Show ran behind the scenes. The most interesting one from a business and life perspective was about Tonight Show band leader, Doc Severinsen. There is no need to go through Doc’s resume here, but his many years on TV fundamentally made him a household name.
Early during the first days of Doc’s time on the tonight show, there was a limited budget. Production has to draw the line somewhere. Doc was upset and wanted a meeting so the show’s producer and his secretary came to Doc’s office. The office was full of musical scores, instruments and a rack with Doc’s flashy wardrobe. On one side of the office was a stack of mail bags with unopened mail. Doc cut right to the point. He wanted the NBC producers to pay for a secretary. After all, Johnny had one and so did Ed McMahon. He had too much to organize by himself in terms of wardrobe, telephone calls and his job of providing music for the show. The producer basically stated that there was no money currently in the budget for a full time secretary. Doc wasn’t happy with this answer. However during this conversation the secretary wandered over to the mail bags, labeled, “fan mail”, and opened a few letters. She kept up this process during the heated discussion the pitted Doc against NBC management.
As the argument was coming to a very loud point, she interrupted them and stood between the the adversaries. She said to them, “Look at this! An advance for $5000! [ In 1960’s money ] “Another one for $2000!” She went on and on. She said, “Listen to me Doc, this is just part of one mailbag. With advances for appearances and performances like this you could have TWO secretaries and a whole extra stream of income!” Simply stated, if Doc had explored what was right under his nose, the idea of secretaries, wealth, his own production company, etc, wasn’t an issue. It would be easy to use and spread the wealth.
So, problem solved. The rest is history. But what is the takeaway?
The idea of neglecting something right under your nose is not new. However the thought of wealth, ideas and perhaps a new life simply being a process of taking action,… well, we can all point the finger back at ourselves for being neglectful.
How many people in sales never have had a professional sales course? I don’t mean those morning breakfast where realtors stuff their face and try to get telephone numbers of the opposite sex. I mean real training through audio or video or practice sessions? A lot of this is free on Youtube. What about fitness? How many complain about driving to the gym or paying a fee when they live near steps/hills and parks with chin up bars and other apparatus. Did I mention it was FREE? Is eating properly a problem? Of course you can’t afford that special diet food. However it’s amazing that populations around the world eat a relatively cheap diet and still win Gold Medals. I mean how expensive are chicken breasts, tuna, lean pork, vegetables and fruits? How expensive is oatmeal or eggs? How about using social media to promote your business? How many say they hate Instagram or Facebook, yet complain that they get no leads, have no mailing list? Facebook is free and any 14 year old kid can show you how to use social media correctly.
The summary is best condensed in a statement by Indonesian Martial Arts Master, Paul DeThouars. “There are NO secrets, only truth yet to be uncovered”. I bet Doc Severinsen wished he had known that earlier.