Open Heart Extra - Who Isn’t Uncle Henry?


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You look and you see another person, and you recognize them, and you feel like they are us. Every level below that, you see them as ‘them’ or I see you as ‘her’ or ‘him.’

Now I see you as us. The feeling of us feels extremely fulfilling. But in business you say, ‘well I can’t see my competitor as us. I can’t see the people I work with as us. It’s not functional.’

Let me give you an example of what it feels like. Many years ago, I did a record album, six records. I did some stuff on WBAI in New York, a radio station, and a radio station in Montreal, and they made some records up of it. There was music, and there was a beautiful calligraphied book, all beautifully set out in a box. The whole thing sold for $4.50 mail order, six records. It was in another economic time, you understand, but that was still a good price.

I gave my father, who was a successful man, a copy. And he said, “Pretty impressive.” I said, “Yep.” He said, “Selling it for $4.50?” “Yep.” “Looks like it’s worth a lot more than that.”  “Yep.” He said, “I bet you could get ten dollars for this.” “Right.” “Would fewer people buy it?” I said, “No.” He said, “I don’t understand you, are you against capitalism?” I said, “No.” He said, “Well, I’m very confused. You’ve got a product, it could sell for ten dollars, the same number of people would buy it, and you’re selling it for $4.50.” I said, “Well, it only cost me four dollars, and there’s fifty cents profit.”

I tried to figure out how I could explain to him what the predicament was. I said, “Dad, you’re a lawyer. A few years ago, remember you tried a case for Henry?” “Yeah.” “Was it a tough case?” “Damn right it was. It took a lot of my time.” “Work at the law library a lot?” “I’ll tell you I worked, I really worked on that much more. I had to set a lot of things aside to do that.” I said, “You won it, didn’t you?” “Yeah, it went up to the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, but I won it!” I said, “Well, dad, I bet you charged a sizable fee.”

My father had charged pretty good fees in his life. I said, “I bet you charged a sizable fee to Uncle Henry.” “What, are you out of your mind? It’s Uncle Henry! I couldn’t do that.” I said, “You see my predicament. If you can find somebody who isn’t Uncle Henry, I’ll rip them off.”

 

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