Which role do you play? (Warning: Graphic Language included)

In some ways, I am a very lucky guy. Almost every morning I go to a local coffee shop where I enjoy coffee and conversation with a group of men who are long-term residents of Redlands. They are all older gentleman and at 44 I am the second youngest in the group, by far. These men are an invaluable part of my informal mastermind group. I learned a long time ago that it was crucial to have a group of older men around, who can pass on their knowledge and experience in both professional and personal terms. Like riding in a car for hundreds of miles with wrestling veterans or enjoying a cigar with learned men, I find these kinds of settings are where most learning really takes place.

Recently, the one member of our group was leading a conversation. He is a blue-collar guy with a hunger for knowledge and the kind of drive and ambition that you just know will lead to big things. On this day, he was lamenting an experience in which he was not being paid fully for his labor by an employer. We discussed how he was hoping things would change and some of his other options, including moving on. As he struggled with this, I looked at him and asked him something that the great Dr. Jerry Graham told me once. “Do you know what role you play?” I asked him. He looked puzzled, and I went on “See, I’m a whore. I could be almost anybody’s whore. What I will NOT be, is anybody’s bitch. So, are you a whore or a bitch?”

Now, let me explain this difference for the weak hearted. By “whore” I mean someone with talents to sell and knows the value of those services and does not accept less unless it’s on their own terms. By “bitch” I mean exactly what the pimp means. The person who spends their time making money for someone else, underestimates their own value, and hopes that will change instead of forcing a change. In other words, are you in control or are you not? And do you know if you are?

A wrestling buddy of mine called me up once because he was pondering an offer to work a high-profile series of shows. He told me he did not how much money to ask for. I listened and asked him what his usual price was and he told me it was $150. Hearing this I told him, “First of all, you never ‘ask’ for anything. You have a price. Tell them you want $300.”

“$300?! What if they say ‘no’?” he asked.

“Then, they say ‘no’ and you negotiate. Don’t let fear you hold you back.” I told him. he thanked me, hung up, and called me back 15 minutes later.

“Eric, thank you so much,” he began, “they agreed to the price”. The man has a wife and kid, so I knew the money could help. It was also time to teach him something.

“Hey, brother,” I asked him, “what’s your price?” and he responded “$150”

I told him, “No, it’s not. It’s $300. Anything less is a discount and make sure people know that.”

My clients who are successful business owners know this. As entrepreneurs, they have been on both sides of the table. Part of my job has been getting them to see how they can maintain control over their business, their lives, their brands, and avoid being someone else’s bitch.

Those people who find themselves on the wrong side of the law due to their own misdeeds, often think they are “big pimpin” when the reality is they are the biggest bitches of them all. The state controls almost every aspect of their lives during their incarceration and afterwards. The state can control what job opportunities are available to them and can limit where they go and what they can earn. And during that incarceration the state can pimp you out to perform services for businesses of which you will get pennies while the state gets millions. So what does this have to do with the law? Simple, in these hard economic times for the profession lawyers need to know which role they play. Especially the young lawyers. Know your worth, fight for your worth. Learn how to not be somebody else’s bitch. Because you need to figure out that all some places want to do is pimp you out. Learn your craft, then get on your way to controlling your own life. Otherwise, what the devil are you working for?