Nine

In the room now, Zoe C, “I did it! Damned if I didn’t do it. It just kicked in, I didn’t think, just act. Exactly like we talked about.”
I smile, “You were a machine, I enjoyed the show, short, but fights are always better short. Probably didn’t cure Freddy, I doubt he can spell IQ, but he’s going to remember. His knee isn’t going to work well for a long time, maybe never.”
“I’m trembling, the adrenaline is winding down…hold me.”
I do, it isn’t a ‘we’re going to make love’ thing, her brain has just begun processing what happened. I hug her until she’s breathing normally and the shakes are gone.
“I feel weird, one minute I’m beating the crap out of a guy much bigger than me, then I shake like a scared kitten.”
“Normal, it was your virgin outing. Cantor didn’t count as a physical confrontation, you weren’t in any serious danger. If there’s a next time, the aftershock won’t be as big a deal. I suggest a vodka and we chill on the couch.
We do, whatever the hug and vodka accomplished, she’s settled.
“You know the best part?”
“A knee to the balls or his broken leg?”
“No, the best part was your confidence in me. You could have gone all guy stuff and taken him yourself, but you didn’t. You let me earn my stripes.”
“Why would I doubt you? I trained you, I know what you can do, now you know what you can do.”
We sit side by side on the couch and watch part of a movie, I forget, a Transporter thing I think. Off to bed before it ends.
I sleep like I’m dead, when I start moving it’s after eight. Zoe C is up with coffee made.
“The hotel has a breakfast thing, hungry?”
“Not starving, coffee, then we can go down and surf the buffet.”
It turns out to be pretty good. The scrambled eggs aren’t dried to dust and the bacon is crisp. I also have half a toasted bagel with cream cheese, Zoe C has the other half. After last night’s dinner, more than sufficient.
“Can you surf the local real estate? We want a big enough chunk of desert to be private. We talked about surrounding hills, mountains, something to backstop the ammo. I’ll find out what, if any, firearms restrictions might apply. My lawyers will double check. I don’t want any local cop problems.”
Zoe C, “Got it, maybe we find an agent? They know the area, we don’t.”
“Go for it. Tell you what. Say you’re searching for a client, they won’t ask what kind of client, they want to sell property. Tell them exactly what your ‘principal’ wants and why. If there are code problems, they’ll know, but I doubt it. Out here is as close to the wild west as you can get. People shoot all the time.”
Back to the room, Zoe C looks up real estate agents, makes a call, the woman practically jumps through the phone. She arranges to meet in an hour.
“I didn’t know if you wanted her coming here, can I take the Santa Fe?”
“Sure, I have things to occupy me, there’s a fitness center, maybe I’ll take a long walk, sniff around Barstow on foot, take in the polluted air from a million big rigs.””
Zoe C goes off to look at dirt, I decide to have a schlep, out the hotel up Lenwood Road. For a town with less than twenty three thousand people it has one of every kind of chain food outlet in existence. City planners must have gone to sleep, the place is jammed together, one tacky sign after another. I walk for an hour and a half, except for landscape differences, it could by any city minor city in the country.The exception is, as I mentioned, trucks. Barstow is on I-40, a major trucking thoroughfare from the Midwest to Los Angeles.
I give up and return to the hotel for a shower, then sit in meditation for an hour. My phone dings, it’s Zoe C.
“Dying of boredom??”
“I’m good, took a long walk, saw nothing interesting, got a shower and I’m chilling.”
“I’ve seen four sites, any of them would work, none has development nearby. The agent says a shooting range wouldn’t be a problem. We just returned, I should be back in fifteen or twenty, need anything?”
“Nope, I skipped lunch, did you eat?”
“No, breakfast was enough.”
“You know how to get back to the sites?”
“Yep. I’ll collect you and we can get a closer look.”
We spend the rest of the afternoon studying desert and hills, return to the hotel for five thirty. 
Zoe C, “The dirt is dirt cheap, three hundred an acre average. A thousand acres is one and a half square miles, more like two miles diagonally. That one place is surrounded by hills on three sides, I’m thinking that might do it.”
“Me too. Okay, three hundred grand then. Let it sit for a few days, then make a lowball offer and see what happens.”
“How lowball?”
“Two hundred, no financing, cashier’s check. The sale will be in a corporate name, I have several empty shells parked for stuff like this, my name doesn’t appear.”
“Good, she thinks my name is Luella.”
“You did well, sneaky too.”
She grins, “I’m learning.”
“I looked around on the web, Barstow is loaded with Mexican restaurants, feel up to chili powder?”
“Who doesn’t like nachos and frozen margaritas.”
We settle on Los Domingos, the menu is huge, but we’re in the mood for standards. Two house frozen margaritas, and standard nachos, guacamole, sour cream, two cheeses, pico de gallo, skip the beans. I ask for the toppings to be served in separate bowls, otherwise the nachos get soggy. Nachos are nice and crunchy, perfect with the salt rimmed lime margaritas.
We switch to beer with dinner, beef tacos, hard shell, got to have that crunch, and chicken enchiladas. I order tamales, curious as to how they make them. I’m pleasantly surprised, lots of tamale places sell plenty of dough and a thin strip of meat. Not here. They aren’t stuffed, but there’s as much filling as wrapping.
Zoe C, “That hit all the spots. Maybe another margarita?”
“Let’s try the fancy stuff, check the menu and pick a couple.”
“Got to go with the Domingos Cadillac, blue agave, triple sec, house mix and a shot of dimiana, whatever that is, it says a light herbal liqueur. The others look too foo-foo.”
She orders two, the liqueur is sweet, not cloyingly sweet, I ask, “What do you think?”
“I’m glad I tried it, I don’t need to try it again.”
​“We’ll make them at home, try out different combos. I had one once with orange liqueur, that was tasty.”
Zoe C, “You better drive.”
I do, we don’t get pulled over. We had a sizable amount of food, with grease, and I’m six four and two twenty, Zoe C is maybe one twenty five. I have more storage space.
She goes off to shower and bed, I catch some of the political shenanigans on CNN and turn in myself.

Ten

We have coffee and skip breakfast, pack it up and drive to Malibu, home by ten thirty.
Zoe C, “I’ll deal with the unpack, I have a bit of laundry to do, clean the bathrooms.”
“Any lunch preferences?”
“Something light, can we have seafood for dinner, anything.”
“I’ll hit the store later.”
I fish around in the refrigerator, chipotle chicken and ham slices. I’ll make finger sandwiches for lunch, then to the store for seafood sometime this afternoon.
We eat by the pool, it’s a sunny day, we’re shaded by the table’s umbrella. A refreshing breeze from the Pacific.
Zoe C, “Sandwiches are good,” she’s had two ham, takes a chicken.
“Olive oil mayo only for the chicken, mayo and hot mustard for the ham. Guess I could have added pickle, it didn’t occur.”
“I like it basic, and you add layers of meat, not just a single slice. I’d be no good as a vegetarian.”
“No, not my thing either.”
“Subject change. We fixed Cantor, there are a zillion other predator assholes out there, using power and position to harass and assault women. All you have to do is open a news site and there’s Weinstein and a bunch of other men in Hollywood, politics, newsrooms and colleges.”
“It’s rampant in Silicon Valley. I’m not a saint, but I made it clear from the outset that we were there to code and make money. Any harassment would involve the hammer coming down hard. If it happened in my shop nobody reported it, and I also made it clear that reports would not be ignored. They had to take their social and sex lives separate from the workplace. Frankly they could have done their jobs anyplace, I didn’t need to supply an office. Sometimes they did, we didn’t have ‘hours’ we had performance measures, like, does the damn code work. The employees seemed to prefer working in a group though, so they mostly came in. It was easier to swap suggestions, find bugs, and we had our share of horsing around.”
“How many females?”
“Five to six, twelve guys. The policy was that a bit of venting was okay, as in the occasional curse. No hard language at each other, they could swear at the machines all they wanted. I gave them outlets, a punching bag for instance. The office was one big open space, tables, a mish mash of Aeron chairs and loungers. The kitchen was on one wall, restrooms were the only enclosed space. The back wall, which was floor to ceiling windows, had a couple of treadmills, stationary bikes and a rowing machine, available anytime. Someone used a Sharpie to draw a head shot of Trump on one side of the punching bag, McConnell on one side and Ryan on the open spot. It got a lot of use. Had to refresh the drawings every week.
Zoe C giggles, “Way cool.”
“I didn’t have Google’s resources, but we managed to do a lot of work and have a bit of fun. I got the newbies who either couldn’t get on at the big four or who didn’t want to be in a massive code mill. There’s a lot of monitoring in those shops, down to tracking keystrokes. People aren’t crazy about that.”
“No, it’s almost creepy, like the machine is watching you.”
“You were headed someplace, we got sidetracked.”
“So, I’m not interested in celebrities outed for bad behavior, but what about abusers who get away with punching out their wives or girlfriends, beating the kids? I know they sometimes get busted, others get stuck on a sex offender list.”
“You’re thinking of the ones who don’t?”
“Yes…well sort of. I mean, what happens when they get out? Parole maybe, which is kind of a joke, or just did their time and were released. Do they fall back into the old ways?”
“I have no idea, why don’t we research it. I know a few lawyers maybe they know.”
We spend an hour Googling reports. Recidivism rates vary and the data appears to indicate that abusers and child rapists, they call them molesters in the reports, we call it what it is, who don’t continue to abuse seems to be from ten to twenty percent of those who have some form of treatment. Cognitive behavior therapy is most effective.
Recidivism means they got arrested again, even though they were in one program or another.
The problem is, they can’t follow up on everyone, they collect data on those in programs. To stick with a program implies the offender has a real motivation to change. And the rest, like most abuse and sexual offenses, never get reported. No report, no data. The general consensus is that the abuse continues in many cases.
Zoe C, “Better than nothing, still not acceptable.”
“People don’t change behavior without a serious reason, an emotional one. Fear of re-incarceration is enough for some. Perhaps others would be more cooperative with a stronger, more coercive, form of punishment.”
“Like Cantor.”
“Am I sensing you want to go vigilante?”
“The thought occurred.”
“Let me dig around. I have to approach the subject carefully, but I can call a lawyer or two and ask what they know about it.”
Zoe C, “I have an idea, why don’t I approach people as a college student thinking of doing a research study. There are recidivism studies already, my approach would be to dig deeper, or maybe a different angle. What do people in the system find most frustrating about these cases?”
“That is a very good idea, people love to let off steam about their job, particularly something like abuse. You go in guaranteeing anonymity, no names, just a job title to give it credibility. Let them unload. I can contact the couple of lawyers with the same premise, say a girl I know at UCLA is doing research on the subject.”
“Should I enroll in a sociology course?”
“Wouldn’t hurt…I don’t know, let’s consider the ramifications. If anyone asks, you can flash your student ID, validating you’re a student. Enrolling in a specific course ties you to a professor. We don’t want you to have to cough up the prof’s name. You get in front of someone cautious, they might want to verify you. Then the prof gets a heads up you’re doing a study, you see where this is headed.”
“Yeah, professor says she doesn’t know anything about it, I’m busted.”
“So no sociology for now.”
“What if they ask about a prof anyway?”
“Can you come up with a cover?”
She does a lip scrunch, “I think so. How’s this, I’m thinking of proposing a study, I want to go in with some background, to convince the department it’s a good idea.”
“Excellent, and you only have to use it when you need to, never volunteer any more detail than necessary. If they don’t ask, no reason for you to tell.”
She grins, “I thought I was sneaky.”
“I’m older, old age and treachery will always beat youth and exuberance.”
She laughs, “You just think that up?”
“Nah, read it someplace, I don’t know who said it first.”
“So, we have a plan?”
“Only one way to find out.”
“I have a bit of studying to do.”
“And I need to round up dinner.”
I go off to shop. Don’t feel like cooking, I buy prepped lobster tails and jumbo shrimp, purple cabbage and sliced carrot coleslaw. If we want dessert I have Hagen Daz chocolate and Ben and Jerry’s vanilla in the freezer and a box of waffle cones.
By the time I return it’s getting on to the cocktail hour. Zoe C is on the couch with a book, I get the tails in a warm oven, the shrimp into the refrigerator to keep chilled. Butter and garlic for the lobster, tangy seafood sauce for the shrimp.
Zoe C comes over, “Wow, looks yummy.”
“I know it’s seafood but I’m feeling like Chianti, grab one from the wine cooler and open it. We can have a cocktail first while the wine gets a bit of oxygen.”
I make us Bloody Marys, we sit outside and enjoy. The sun has dropped past the horizon, beautiful orange hues of disappearing sunlight.
It’s gotten chilly, we go inside, pour wine, dig into shrimp, lobster and coleslaw with a light coating  of peanut sauce.
Zoe C, “I have truly stumbled into a magical life,” she raise her wineglass, “to Chef, with my deep appreciation.”
I smile, there’s nothing to say, I give her a nod of thanks.

Eleven

Zoe C, “I called the agent his morning, made the offer, now we wait for a response.”
“I suppose if she didn’t hang up on you it’s a good sign.”
“I’m off to class, just one, I should be back in a couple of hours…oh, and I have an appointment to see a psychology prof,  David Jeffries, he did a recidivism study on child abuse.”
“How’d you find him?”
“Checked the background on psych and sociology professors, UCLA is a big school, lots of instructors. I’ll research USC as well, this is a start anyway.”
“You’re pretty smart for a...”
“Do not even say girl.”
“I was going to say lesbian.”
“Very funny, piss off,” she grins.
“I’ll call a couple of acquaintances.”
I hand her an egg sandwich and a paper cup of coffee with a lid. Zoe C thanks me, goes to class, I fish through my phone, make a call.
“Charles, haven’t spoken in a while, got a minute?”
“Good to hear from you, still in Malibu?”
“Yep. I know you have billable hours to rack up, a quick question. A woman I know is doing a bit of research on abuse, child and spousal. She’s taking a different approach, she wants to interview people, social workers, judges, attorneys, cops, any physicians or nurses who have experience in the subject, but from their point of view. How do they feel about it, how does it affect their lives? Am I being clear?”
“Sure, it’s a good subject, can’t use names of course, or so I’d think.”
“No, no names, job title but not affiliation. No breadcrumbs back to them.”
“I know who to start with, she’s hell on wheels about the subject.”
“Perfect, can you make introduction?”
“Glad to, hang on,” the line goes mute for a couple of minutes then, “you there?”
“Yep.”
“We’re on a conference call, Dana, this is who I was telling you about.”
Dana, “Hello, Charles gave me a quick summary, I like it. Any additional details?”
“If you can meet with my friend, even by phone, she can tell you more than I can. Her name is Zoe C, UCLA student.”
“I understand my name and any others are not mentioned.”
“No, no blowback. I assume it’s okay to say sociologist or psych prof, no employer, no location.”
“Then she will get cooperation, nobody wants to admit the psychological toll these things take, not for publication anyway. One of my specialties is the very thing she’s researching. I could give her a whole paper on my own. Tell Zoe C to call me. Unusual name, is C her surname?”
“The first letter of her surname, it’s Zoe Clausen, not sure how it got incorporated into her given name, I never asked.”
“People should be called whatever they want to be called. I have a patient, she should leave a message, I’ll get back to her.”
“Thanks, and thank you Charles.”
“Don’t be a stranger, I’d like to know how this goes.”
“Will do, and thanks again to the both of you,” we click off.
I have another potential contact, but decide between what Zoe C found and what I lucked into, it’s enough to start. Instead, I pour another coffee, go to the pool and keep a sharp eye on the ocean while I dream up dinner.
It’s after noon when she returns.
“I had a longer than expected chat with the psych prof, he’s enthusiastic on the subject, even wanted to make it official, said he’d sponsor my research.”
“Almost too good.”
“I made appropriate thank yous, told him I’d bring the first draft and let him read it, how much I would appreciate his opinion and any critique. He liked that too. I interviewed him, which is why I’m overdue. Maybe I should have sent you a text.”
“No sweat, I’ve trained you, and you’ve demonstrated you can handle yourself, I don’t need to den mother. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t call if there’s a questionable situation, even if you think there might be. That’s not weakness, it’s good sense.”
“You find out anything?”
“I have a number for you to call, my lawyer acquaintance put me in touch with a therapist. Part of her practice are the very people you’re asking about. She said she could do a paper just with what she knows.”
“Dang, lucky me, what’s the number?”
I read it out.
“Should I call now?”
“She said it’s likely going to voice mail, leave your name and number. I told her your last name but she knows you go by Zoe C.”
I search around the refrigerator and pantry while she calls, she goes across the room and parks on one of the loungers.
There are spicy chicken sausages I’d bought and parked in the freezer last week. I take them out to thaw, we need fresh French bread, red and yellow peppers, we have fat purple onions.
Zoe C is still on the phone, I catch her attention and say “Store.”
She waves and goes back to her conversation.
When I return, she’s in the pool, I got the bread, peppers and a key lime pie. She climbs out of the pool and settles on a lounger. I grab a bottle of cold water and take it out to her.
“Here, stay hydrated,” I park on a chair shaded by an umbrella.
“You just want to admire my bod.”
“Duh. Any sane human would admire your bod, and most of the insane.”
She smiles, “Too bad you aren’t a girl.”
“Not for me. I’m happy you don’t mind, you’re safe, the sign says keep off the grass, but I can still admire the pretty green color.”
“You haven’t gone on a date in a while.”
“Nor you. For my part, we’re into more interesting things, I’ll call the service when the mood strikes.”
“Kind of my feeling. Now I’m caught up in my project, I had coffee with a girl at school, she’s available for a hookup, I might go for it.”
“What did the therapist say?”
“God, I don’t know if it happens to everyone who has to deal with the aftermath of abuse, but the people she sees are borderline traumatized. Particularly when it involves children. And intensely frustrated with what they say are far too lenient sentences. She practically opened the door for a more…what should I call it, direct intervention. She stopped short, it was like she was waiting for someone to give permission.”
“Wow, something she said in particular?”
“Yeah, that abusers not only ruin the lives of the abused, but their families and the people she sees, those in the system who have to work with the victims. Like I said, traumatized by the sheer numbers and the things abusers do.”
“You going to interview them?”
“I walked in for her help, I have to, she thinks that a paper on the extent of the problem is overdue. She’s going to text me when she has candidates.”
“Sounds like a fire that’s been simmering for a while.”
We have an afternoon session of Krav, Zoe C has been working her upper body hard and the results are evident.
“Your grip and arm strength are much improved.”
“ I hate pushups, the only thing I hate more are chins.”
“But you do them anyway.”
“They’re good for me, I know that because I hate them.”
“Superior logic, and the will to overcome pain.”
“I’m seeing results, so I’m down to dislike, I doubt I ever get to like, pushups aren’t chocolate and chins aren’t ice cream.”
“You’ve earned the body, you look like a fitness model.”
“Thank you, speaking of fitness, what’s for dinner?”
“Something I ate in New York, from one of the street festivals, 9th Avenue as I recall. The grilled sausage with onion and peppers, served it on French bread, mayo and hot mustard optional. I went with both.”
“You just finished talking about fitness and now we’re having sausage?”
“Chicken sausage, after the addition of grilled peppers and onion, the meat doesn’t much matter. You probably won’t want any of the key lime pie.”
“Uh huh.”

Twelve

Zoe C drives over to have coffee with Dana Milbank, a day later she gets an email with a list of four women and two men either in the justice system or social workers. She gets on the phone..
“I’ve set appointments, everyone but me has day jobs. I’ll see four after work, two before. I arranged to do the two mornings the same days I have two evenings. The other two on sequential days next week.”
“You have questions, like an interview?”
“Yes, but I want to let them open up, not like a therapist, not doing Dana’s job. I get a basic bio, X is a prosecutor in an unnamed DA’s office. Y is a ten year veteran social worker. I may even change the years, drop it to nine or make it eleven, journalistic license to protect sources. They’ll have names, just not their names. I think it makes the paper more about real people. Dr. Jeffries may have suggestions.”
“Don’t see any holes in your approach. When do you begin?”
“Tomorrow.”
Zoe C is not a let the grass grow girl.
“Are you going to record the conversations, for accuracy I mean.”
“Don’t know, what do you think?”
“I think people may hedge when they’re on record. But I have no experience so my opinion is just that. Who knows, maybe they get going and just spill regardless.”
“I’m going with not. I’m good with notes and my memory is tidy. Should I let them read what I write before I give it to the prof?”
“I’d want to, it verifies you’re on the level, not making things up.”
“Then I’ll make that offer.”
Saturday, Zoe C connected with the girl she had coffee with, I called the service and requested Natalie, we’ve been out before, maybe six months ago. To make it simple, she gets Uber to take her to the restaurant, I take myself in the NSX. This is LA, there are restaurants on top of restaurants. From my days in the tech world, I have several well oiled maitre’d contacts. I can get good tables at good times. It’s well worth the fifty I slip them when I visit.
This one is French-ish, the chef has done an excellent job of merging classic French with whatever he decides to concoct on any given evening. I like it because it’s not snobby, the atmosphere is relaxed, I know the people, including the chef. 
Most important, celebrities don’t go there. Natalie is a head turner, but understated casual elegance. This is SoCal, we don’t wear suits and evening dresses to dinner.
She’s a graduate student, working on her masters in finance, which she’ll sail through. Over dinner we discuss the market and tax reform. It may not sound romantic, but romantic is in the libido of the beholder. She likes that I appreciate her brain, it isn’t first on the list, call it 1A.
It’s not a complicated dinner, our starter is Paté de Campagne with pork, brandy, warm spices, served with pickled onions, raisin aigre doux, a sweet and our sauce, and whole grain mustard. Taittinger Champagne accompanies.
Natalie has pan seared halibut, roasted eggplant puree, roasted zucchini, red bell peppers, confit spring onion & tomato. Not an eggplant aficionado I opt for crispy duck breast, beet salad, chèvre (goat’s milk) cheese and roasted cauliflower purée. With dinner we have a Sonoma Country Red Blend. Don’t turn your nose up at blends, many are excellent.
Dessert is crème brulée and amoretti cookies.
Natalie, “Most enjoyable, Merci.”
“My pleasure. Perhaps Cognac, in Malibu?”
“How can I resist?”
Natalie knows how to manage the customer. Besides, I have her juices flowing with talk of cash flow, depreciation, and exchange traded funds, one of which is the recently launched artificial intelligence equity fund, AIEQ. Stocks selected by a self learning algorithm. I’d invested a million, it’s too soon to tell if the self-learning is real. In a couple of months it is slightly ahead of the S&P’s performance.
I take her to the house, she’s been here before, she knows about Zoe C, they’ve never met.
When we arrive, Zoe C and her unknown friend are in the pool. I wave, they wave back. Natalie takes a seat on the couch, I pour Cognac into snifters and bring one to her. I park next to her, we tap glasses and sip.
The room is dark, better to enjoy the moon over the ocean and as much of a star show as one can expect in the over-lighted Los Angeles.
Natalie, “I finish at the end of term, three months. I have an offer from Goldman and another from Morgan Stanley. I’ll be out of the escort business.”
“My loss.”
“It doesn’t have to be. We can have dinner, enjoy each other’s company, no escort fee, if you’re still interested that is, no strings, no promises, no obligation.”
“Interested is an understatement, enthusiastic is more like it. Should I call? Or feel free to let me know when you’re available, I don’t have a career, my time is my own.”
“I’m thinking of doing a couple of years at one or the other, what I really want is to be my own boss, start an investment management company. Not a hedge fund per se, more like Berkshire Hathaway.”
“Good to have goals, maybe the money at one of the big houses will change your mind, but it’s not like you have to decide today. For what it’s worth, I think you’re idea to get some front line experience makes good sense. On the other hand, you’re whip smart, if you decide to strike out on your own right off, it might be slow at first, but you’d make it work. Put me in for twenty five.”
“I was thinking of a hundred thousand minimum, I suppose I could do smaller amounts for a friend.”
I smile, “I meant twenty five million.”
She actually blushes, “Duh me, and it’s quite…flattering.”
“You haven’t done actual business yet. If you don’t think in big numbers, wealthy people won’t take you seriously. When you’re ready to set up shop, have a million dollar minimum, more for institutions. You’ll do a lot of grunt work at one of the big houses, the trade off is you’ll meet a busload or rich people, eight figure and up rich. Never be impressed, they want to hire the best, not be fawned over.”
“I’ll keep it in mind, thank you.”
“A corollary to the fawning part. Some of them will make unusual requests, restaurant reservations, have some hard to find item sent across the country, or across the planet.”
“I don’t plan to run a concierge service.”
“It’s a test, they could have a flunky do it, they want to see how well connected you are. If you don’t have a contact of your own, call me. Use your intro job to make some of those contacts, not just lawyers and CPAs, but maitre’ds, hotel managers, the hotel concierge for that matter. Get their business cards, it’s a sign that you have a longer term interest. Anyone who rubs shoulders with the rich, and be generous with working people, show respect and appreciation, they won’t forget. Oh, and they’re Mr. or Ms, not Tommy or Janine, part of the respect.”
“That’s more useful business information than I’ve gotten in grad school.”
“Professors know their subject, I suspect they know very few rich people and none of the ultra rich, I’m in the rich category, ultra rich is a billion up. Not there yet.
Which brings another thought, never ask how much they’re worth, eventually they’ll tell you, they can’t help themselves. Finally, I think, never ever name drop. They will ask you who your other clients are. Another test, if you spill names, they will assume you will spill their names. You’ll never get a dime. Referrals are, of course, different. But never any financial details, nothing personal from your lips.”
“What do I say if they ask?”
“Client details are private, even names. That’s the answer they’re looking for.”
“I’m going to have to start paying you.”
“I have a better idea.”
We head off to my bedroom, no more talk of spreadsheets or client acquisition and management techniques. We have more personal techniques to explore.

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