When you make it rain, it pours and you break the bank

Ideas

When you make it rain, it pours and you break the bank

A salesman sold water to a fish; Charlie Hatfield convinced everyone that he could create rain for a fee

I have spent most of this week negotiating a number of contracts with a number of different people, which is always an awkward business. I’m a tough cookie and talk a big game from afar, but when I sit down across the table from a bank of hard-baked killers unburdened with my nougat layer of self-doubt and personal insecurity, I tend to crumple like a cake left out in the rain.

No, instead I rely on the decency and generosity of my adversaries, which you may think is a tenuous strategy, but I console myself by thinking about Charlie Hatfield. Charlie was a shrewd businessman, a hard-nosed negotiator, and above all he was a rainmaker.

He started off selling sewing machines door to door in southern California in the early 1900s. He was a legendary salesman – my own father, himself a door-to-door operative of no mean ability for the Singer Sewing Machine company in Durban in the early 1970s, used to tell stories of Charlie “Rolling Thunder” Hatfield, who never took a closed door for an answer, and was once chased down the street by a homeowner with a shotgun, who later came round and bought one of his most expensive models...

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