A Businessman’s Book of Black Gold

BlackBookv1About 20 years ago I met a unique businessman. He was very tall and built like a linebacker. To compensate for his size, he spoke in a soft voice and always carried a smile. I had never seen such a sight, so I crossed the waiting area at our gate to introduce myself before our flight boarded. I’ll refer to him in this post as Mike.

I was working for a Fortune 50 company at the time and always on the lookout to learn from the best. It didn’t take a lot of observation skills to ascertain that Mike was a successful executive, wearing the latest Armani suit with highly polished wingtip shoes. His uniqueness was evident in how he responded to my approach.

He immediately sat up and leaned forward to give me his undivided attention. His word choice suggested that he could hold his own in the country or on a farm, while his dialect and presentation was clearly Park Ave. He was approachable, knowledgeable, and filled with wisdom—knowing exactly how to alter his conversation on the fly to match the other person’s.

His face reflected a fascination with my questions, which allowed me to continue asking questions that most businessmen would find exhausting. At one point he stopped our conversation and cut to the chase, asking me outright if I wanted to know the core reason for his business success. I said, “Yes.”

After pulling a small, black notebook from his pocket, he said that all of his business secrets were in the book. He then asked if I’d like to read through it while we waited. I took the book and sat down to read his handwritten notes. I was amazed at the business techniques that were captured on each page. I had found “black gold,” Texas tea, business oil, that is. The stuff that could catapult a man toward success.

He saw my hunger for the information as I absorbed page after page. He quietly borrowed my ticket and went up to the gate, while I continued to memorize the information. He returned after exchanging my economy ticket for the first class seat next to his so I could continue reading.

At 35,000 feet, I turned to Mike and asked him for clarification. One of the business statements didn’t read in a way that was easily understood from a business context. Proverbs 8:20 read: “A king who sits on the throne of justice, sifts all evil with his eyes.” He told me that understanding the translation sometimes required a deeper dive into the word choices selected by the translator who converted the info to English.

Mike said that a “king” represented him as a business owner reigning over his small business empire. He was to do it “justly,” always making sure he was fair to himself, his employees, and his clients. His greatest task during the transaction was to “sift” through all “evil,” or one-sided choices, by carefully observing his team and the clients, making sure to purge or get rid of anyone who was not conducting business on the up and up.

Mike then told me about a man who was trying to leverage an additional 3% margin out of the customer to make himself look good. He immediately remembered the proverb and fired the man. Five years later he heard how the man finagled business at his next job to the point where his boss got fired and he took over the position—not the kind of man anyone would want on their team. Two years later the business was scrutinized by the FBI, ending with the man being jailed 11 months later for embezzling.

I admired how Mike’s experience proved the black book’s notes to be effective and accurate. I wanted more, and Mike saw it in my eyes. As we disembarked, Mike handed the book back to me as a parting gift with the hope that I’d always mold my business according to its biblical principles. I thanked him for the first class seat and the chance to learn from one of the best. He suggested the best way to return the favor was to share my story about the black book with others. And so I have, again.

Copyright © 2018 by CJ Powers

NaNoWriMo Spurs On Creativity

Spiderman_NotebookThis month I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo along with over 400,000 other creative people across the world. Within a 10-15 mile radius of where I live 4,068 people are participating in National Novel Writing Month. Each writer is committed to pen a 50,000 word first draft novel by the end of November.

This national event was founded in 1999 and has since gone international. It is a great way to stretch one’s creativity and dream up an adventure that future fans would be interested in reading. My novel is titled: Tree Jumper. It’s a young adult novel that carries a conservative theme about unconditional love.

During the process, numerous area libraries have supported NaNoWriMo with Write-Ins. Last Friday after the library in a nearby town closed for the night, NaNoWriMo authors got to sneak back in and write until we dropped. For me it was about 2,400 words. We had three writing competitions of which I took first place during the last heat. My prize was a Spiderman journal and pen.

We celebrated everyone’s success and the library provided free pizza to keep us fueled for the three-hour evening. We even had virtual authors show up via an Internet connection that allowed us to communicate and track each other’s efforts. The coolest part was supporting each other’s achievements.

Writing a novel is no small task. To hit the first draft writing goal of 50,000 words, we each have to write an average of about 1,700 words a day. That works out to two hours of writing a day for topics familiar to the author. Any research or story structure work requires more hours. Character development is also additional time spent. Not to mention all the rewrites necessary to make a title sales worthy.

The goal for most of us participating is to refine and expand our creativity. In fact, after talking with several of the authors, I felt like my story was the least creative. That’s right, Mr. Creativity was the least creative. But don’t let that idea fool you, as my story will surprise you at least seven or eight times. Being the least creative in the room didn’t stop me from creating a great adventure ride for my readers.

Let me know if anyone is interested in reading my novel once it’s finished. I plan to release it in the beginning of 2018. If there is enough of you that would like a copy, I’ll set up a presale program that will keep you up to date. In the meantime, I’ll accept any encouraging words as I endeavor to meet the monstrous goal of completing my first draft by end of month.

Copyright © 2017 by CJ Powers

#NaNoWriMo