How To Run A Company (And Other Stories About Prostitutes)

Flickr/Tobias Mikkelsen
Flickr/Tobias Mikkelsen

I never wanted to fire any employees but I had no money raised and there was a danger my biggest client would fire me. We were late on every project and we were no longer doing a good job.

Which didn’t mean anything. All it means is the client says, “this is no good” even though he had approved the prior five versions of it. At the end, when a prettier girl comes along, he kisses her instead of you.

I took out the boss of the boss of the person who hired us and asked him advice on how I could get more clients. “What would you do if you were me?” I asked him.

He said we should put together a board of advisers and he’d be happy to go on it. He reminded me that everyone on the board of advisers should get a “small stipend”. Client saved.

We were working with one company who introduced us to a client. Eventually that client wanted to work just with us. When the guy from the first company heard, he threw a chair at me and stormed out of the bar.

My next client had a guy who asked for 20% of every deal his company would throw me. He said a lot of companies were trying to do their website, which was for one of the biggest companies in the country. He was the decision-maker.

I agreed to pay him 20%. He was now the third client that I had agreed to pay 20% to in order to throw me their business.

I woke up almost every night at 2 or 3 in the morning thinking how many more weeks of payroll I had in the bank. Usually it was about six. “Six” seemed to be the number I felt safe with. “I’ll figure it out after that” I always told myself but I never fell back to sleep.

Once a week I went out at night at three in the morning to interview prostitutes for one of my clients, HBO. One time we wired up a prostitute to hear what was going on when she got into a car with a guy. We never put that on the website.

Nobody ever writes the classic text: ‘everything I know about business I learned from prostitutes’.

Here’s some things said to me that I would use in that book:

– “they don’t pay us to have sex with us. They pay us so we leave afterwards”. ‪#‎outsourcing‬

– “clients feel in control all the time. They’re usually CEOs or millionaires and they are used to being in control. So they like it when we take control. It gives them relief.” This is called, “setting boundaries”.

– “my boyfriend doesn’t know I do this. I bought him a boat and he doesn’t ask questions.” ‪#‎briberty‬ and ‪#‎denial‬

– “if you get the money up front you can often get the client to talk a lot and then leave before doing anything because you can say someone is after you and you have to go.” ‪#‎entrepreneurship‬

– “I’m normally a party planner.” ‪#‎truth‬

– “I’m sick from cancer and don’t have insurance so this is how I pay my bills.” ‪#‎life‬

– “I was abused by the system ever since I was thrown in detention when I was 13 years old.” ‪#‎storytelling‬

– “I like it” ‪#‎lying‬

I don’t think one prostitute ever told me the truth but that’s ok. I just needed the interviews. I didn’t want to be a business guy. I wanted to entertain. Everyone else could decide if it was truth or not.

Not to be deep but two things: A) what is truth really? and B) when people say “we’re all prostitutes to some extent” they have no idea what the are talking about.

That said, we’re all prostitutes to some extent.

One month we realized we had been forgetting to pay the insurance company. None of our employees were medically insured which I guess was against the law. I had no idea. We didn’t know whether or not to tell them. Or maybe something like, “don’t get pregnant this month”.

Ultimately, we didn’t say anything. Nobody got sick for the next three weeks and we started paying their insurance.

One night I went out to a school for troubled teenagers. My potential client at ABC TV was doing charity work for them and I wanted him as a client.

He had them set up 20 chess boards and I played all the kids simultaneously. All of the kids were bigger than me and tried to cheat when I wasn’t looking.

That client never hired me. One time an employee of his sent me her resume. I asked him about her. He called me and yelled at me, “Don’t EVER ask me what is going on with one of my employees!” and he hung up.

We came close to hiring one guy to be a “COO” of the company. But he always wanted more. We would agree and then he’d ask for one more thing. Ultimately we ignored him.

FACT: Negotiating ability is the most USELES skill in the field of negotiating. The key is to get the deal. THEN work your way up. You can’t negotiate a door to be open. But when your foot is in the door you can always wiggle the door wider.

I just heard what happened to that guy. He was cheating on his wife constantly. He lost his family and he got disbarred and now he lives (cliche but true) in a dirty hotel room. He over-negotiated his life away. ‪#‎typical‬

I started out in NYC with no friends. Then I made friends. Every single client I had was a friend of a friend without exception. Cold-calling never worked. None of my friends of friends are friends anymore.

One of my clients went to an obscure school in the midwest. I had done my research to find that out. I found out some interesting facts about the school and talked about them in the meeting.

Even his boss was looking surprised at how special his employee’s school was from these obscure facts. He became our biggest client after that meeting. ‪#‎flattery‬

He was always depressed. Everytime I talked to him he said, “I wish I were dead”. I would laugh. His father died and left him $85 million.

I never got lucky. One time my father wanted to help out and come to work. He hadn’t worked in years since going on disability for mental illness. He came into the office. My sister refused to show up. They didn’t get along.

Another time one of my employees was crying because she heard my partner talking badly about her behind her back and I had to get in the middle and solve it because she was project manager for one of our biggest clients.

Every client who visited me for lunch I would always announce to everyone, “I don’t want any interruptions because this is the most important person I’ve ever had lunch with.”

One of our partners quit his job the day after his 10% in our company vested and he took a job writing a TV show. I don’t blame him but we had to borrow a lot of money to pay him for his stake. We all went broke paying him off.

Another client told me, “if Adrian calls my secretary one more F-ing time asking for money I’m going to beat the S out of him.”

He never paid his bill ever but that night we went out with the head of Interscope Records who introduced me to all the prostitutes sitting at his table. I also met Roseanne Arquette that night but that’s another story.

Two months later I sold the company and a year later I quit. The guy who acquired my company tried to stop me from quitting. He said, “this is the one time where slavery still applies.”

Then I started another company that cost Yasser Arafat $2 million. Among the many other things that were lost that year. TC mark

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