After my conversation with Glen and Andy I grabbed all of my recent artwork and crammed it into my old art portfolio case from high school, took a shower, threw on my Sunday best clothes, jumped in my car and raced for the business meeting.
As I drove over 80 miles an hour on 5 South I kept replaying my conversation with Andy and dreaming of what could be. “You remind me of myself when I was your age, I also loved the same things that you do and didn’t conform to any accepted style in art or truth that the teachers were teaching. You know I might be able to show your work to a friend of mine in L.A. that owns a gallery up there; if he likes your work he might be able to show your work”
Being able to be a full time, working artist was everything that I ever wanted and I was going to do my best to win over Andy Lakey and hopefully get any opportunity to show my artwork.
I arrived at the Hilton in Del Mar an hour early, parked my old car in the parking lot next to BMW’s, Mercedes and other vehicles that cost more than I would make in three years salary. As I left the parking lot and entered the Hilton I joined a group of over 150 people who were attending the same business opportunity meeting as I was.
I quickly realized that “the meeting,” wasn’t going to be any intimate opportunity to learn about a new business opportunity and talk art with Andy Lakey. The meeting was a “cattle call” and I was a part of the herd corralled into a room for the indoctrination.
As we were corralled into a large ballroom I tried to spot Andy or Glen but was unable to find them because I was given a number and pushed into a seat.
Once everyone was inside the lights quickly dimmed and a video presentation for Do it all Travel came on the screen and we watched a video of interviews with various members of the company that had made a six figure income with the company, bought a new home, cars and taken many fabulous vacations.
I soon became bored and looked at my watch and wondered when the video was going to end. The video finally ended thirty minutes later, the lights came on over the stage and a balding man in his early 40’s, wearing an Hawaiian shirt ran to the stage.
“How you all doing, does everyone in this room want to make more money?” The man asked.
“Yes!” The crowd replied.
“Does everyone want a new car?” The man asked.
“Yes!” The crowd replied.
People sitting next to me actually started to cry with excitement and the atmosphere quickly started to resemble a tent revival meeting.
“Does everyone want a new home or the ability to take nice vacations?” The man asked.
“Yes!” the crowd screamed.
“Good, my name is Roger Smith and I’m going to show everyone in this room how they can do all that and more with Do it all Travel” He said.
For the next 45 minutes Roger Smith and a series of managers and successful people in the company came on stage to share their success stories and sales pitch on why attendees like me should invest in the business opportunity. By the time the meeting was over I was emotionally wiped out, physically exhausted and like a new convert ready to hand over my credit card to invest in the company.
I reached in my back pocket for my wallet and credit cards and realized that I forgot it in my rush to leave for the meeting and smiled because I knew that I just saved myself $300.00 by not purchasing the quick start business kit.
I waited around for Glen in the ballroom, for a few minutes after the presentation and when I was prepared to leave a short, bald guy walked up to me with an excited look on his face.
“Jeremy! Glad to see you, I didn’t think you made it! I’m Glen!” He stuck out his hand and I shook it.
“It’s great to meet you Glen.” I said.
“How did you like the meeting tonight?” Glen asked.
“It was great. I’m very interested in the business opportunity,” I said, trying to act excited….
“Are you ready to invest tonight? The company had marked the quick start business kit down to only $300.00! It’s a steal.” Glen said.
I thought of my rent due the following week, bills and an upcoming car repair and thought of the best excuse in the sales world.
“I’d like to think about it,” I said.
“No problem, just don’t wait to long to get involved with this opportunity because you can get in on the ground floor now but in a few weeks that opportunity will be gone.” He said.
“I know, I’d still like to think about it.” I said.
“No problem, I’ll just give you some tapes to listen to keep you motivated until we talk again in a few days,” He said.
“That would be great, thank you.” I said.
I could tell that Glen was quickly growing disinterested with me because I didn’t want to purchase the “quick start business kit,” and he wasn’t going to earn a commission on the sale tonight. Glen quickly grew depressed and was prepared to leave when Andy walked up to introduce himself to me.
“Glen, this must be Jeremy with you right?” Andy asked.
Glen perked up, “It sure is, I was just talking with Jeremy about the importance of investing in the company tonight,” Glen said.
“Oh, you don’t want to miss out on this opportunity, Jeremy, you won’t find a ‘ground floor’ opportunity like this again.” Andy said.
“I know, I can’t invest tonight, because I forgot my credit card.” I said.
“That’s ok, we can take a check,” Glen said with desperation.
“I’d still like more time to think about it,” I said.
“I admire a man who knows what he wants,” Andy said.
“Me too,” Glen said as he acted depressed again.
“Jeremy, have you had dinner yet?” Andy asked.
“No, not yet,” I said.
“Good, I’m going out to dinner with a few people involved with the company and I’d like you and Glen to come along,” He said.
“I’d love to, where are we going to?” I asked.
“My favorite restaurant, Jonathan’s by the bay.” Andy said.
Jonathan’s by the bay was a high priced restaurant with nothing on the menu under $15.00 and with only $10.00 cash in my wallet I wasn’t sure if I could afford it but I also knew that the opportunity to show Andy my work might not come again so I decided to accept the invitation.
“I’d love to go to dinner with you guys,” I said.
“Great, you can follow me to the restaurant.” Andy said.
I followed Andy out to the parking lot and was about to get in my car when Andy invited me over to his Lexus SUV to show me his latest paintings.
“Come and see my new work,” Andy said.
Andy opened up the back door to his Lexus SUV and pulled out several different paintings that he had completed within the last week.
“What do you think?” Andy asked.
The paintings had all of the elements of color and shape that I loved about his work and I didn’t know what to say.
“Beautiful,” I said.
“I thought you would like them, did you bring your portfolio?” Andy asked.
“Yes sir,” I said.
“Good, you can show your work to me after we eat dinner, let’s go because I’m starving!” Andy said.
I got in my old 1987 Toyota Celica and followed Andy in his brand new Lexus SUV and several other BMW’s and a Mercedes to the restaurant. We arrived a few minutes later and I parked my car in the parking lot next to a Porsche, and I felt like I didn’t belong there.
“Don’t worry Jeremy; I don’t like eating here either. I only like coming here for celebrations.” Andy said.
“What are we celebrating?” I asked.
“It’s been a very good year for me in art and business and I want to celebrate.” Andy said.
I smiled at the thought of being able to dine in any restaurant in ease to just “celebrate” like Andy without a care in the world.
“Don’t worry about dinner Jeremy, I’m buying!” Andy enthused.
“Awesome! Thank you so much.” I gushed and followed him into the restaurant to enjoy a fine meal and good wine.
Glen and his wife and four other people from the conference also attended the dinner and Andy paid for everyone’s meals and after we had desert and coffee, by 10:30 p.m. and asked me to show him my art portfolio. I ran back to my car and brought it back to Andy, eager for him to examine it.
Andy looked through my artwork quickly and paused as he looked at a few of my best paintings. I waited with heavy anticipation for the verdict when he finally told me what I wanted to hear.
“I love all of it and I’m going to talk to my friend that owns the gallery up in L.A. and see if I can introduce you to him.” Andy said.
I was ecstatic and Andy saw it in my eyes.
“Don’t get too excited yet Jeremy, it takes a lot of work to break into the L.A. art world but I’m going to do my best to get you a shot at it ok?” Andy said.
“Thank you!” Were the only words I could say as I felt like my dreams just came true, I gave Andy my phone number, address and e-mail address and he promised to call me with news from his gallery friend the following week.
Andy and I shook hands like old friends, said our goodbyes and I drove home on “cloud nine,” more excited than I had been in years, feeling like I was on the road to accomplishing my life’s ambition and nothing could stop me.
I felt happy and euphoric and was not prepared for how the world would change the following week.