Wednesday, October 31, 2007
The Born-Again Entrepreneur
Every time you run into this fellow he has an exciting new product to push. Once it was children's encyclopaedias and life insurance. Then he got mixed up in Holiday Magic, before signing on with Amway and Electrolux. He was doing okay till he got sold on Herbalife and was completely wiped out. He used to rave about Dale Carnegie, Positive Mental Attitudes, General Dynamics, Silva Mind Control. You name it, he's tried it. He says he was into TM for a while. Now he's into Mineral Pots. ('It has miraculously improved my health. I can show you my urine. Mineral water makes me so lively and happy!')
Has he done Money and You? Well, 'sofanochet'... but he figures he already knows The Secret.
Wonder why he doesn't get himself a steady job. 'Don' wan' to get tied down,' he explains. 'Wan' to be my own boss - like you lah!' On Sundays he wears T-shirts adorned with inspirational seagulls and the bold legend: BORN FREE! (Free as in Free Enterprise, no doubt.)
He shuns negative thoughts. But he doesn't believe in the Free Lunch. Even when you've just paid for his laksa and iced coffee. He's a good listener, he goes the extra mile, his mind is full of homespun homilies. His bookshelf is filled with 'How To' books - but he still buys the occasional lottery ticket just in case.
You tell him about some desperado in Australia who actually received a fortune in the mail, simply by placing this message in the classifieds: 'LAST CHANCE! SEND $2 TO P.O. BOX ......' The story inspires him. You can almost hear the gears whirring in his brain. He was determined to make a million before he turned 30. That was quite a few years ago. Now he's shifted his target to 45 - he's a realist, as well as a visionary.
Probably he gets high on W. Clement Stone and he finds Norman Vincent Peale enormously appealing; he's tried his level best but he hasn't made a mountain out of Napoleon Hill. Now he's carrying around the Gospel According To Thomas Peters. Is the book any good? 'Excellent!' he shouts, continuing his quest for success without tears.
One day he might discover Hare Krishna or join the Moonies... but before long he'd turn up again peddling secondhand elephants or pushing instant ginseng. But look, he's taking a big black leather-bound book from his imitation Samsonite briefcase: God, has he become a Mormon trying to save your soul by proxy? No, he's only wanting to make you buy a $250 diary, 'to help you manage your time' - but in the end you decide to lend him $10, to tide him over the weekend. He'll be touting Celestial Orientation Programmes at the gates of Heaven.
The real problem with this fellow is that he suffers from Premature E-Calculations. What does the 'E' stand for? 'Egg' of course - he's forever counting his chickens before they hatch. I believe his troubles began when he first encountered the word 'entrepreneur' and fell in love with it. He didn't know what it meant - and neither did anyone else. What a nonsensical word! I'm curious to know which nincompoop substituted such a disreputable and disingenuous, such a labial and laborious Francophilism for a straightforward English word like hustling. (Try reading the previous sentence with a mock French accent.)
Oh-oh, here comes the Natural-Born Hustler again (a few months later)... what's he peddling this time? Ah, yes - privatized TV dramas.