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Last month, the local newspaper did a story about me in their Health section.  It was a very flattering article and looking back, I’m glad I did it–but I have to admit, it was a bit overwhelming at first.  Apparently whenever they do weight-loss success stories like the one they did about me, they require “before” and “after” pictures.  It wasn’t the “after” photo that bothered me–in fact, I kinda like the “after” photo.  It was the “before” photo that was the issue.  Not an exaggeration when I say that the “before” photo was by far the worst picture EVER taken of me.  EVER.   (It’s posted on this website.  See if you can find it.)  I was a bit concerned because the “before” photo was going to be seen by people who I grew up with, people I had worked with, people I work with now.   That photo made me physically ill when I saw it for the first time.  But I had made the decision that if I wanted to move forward with my life and my future plans, I would have to own it.  Besides, it was the most graphic example of my success.  If a picture really is worth a thousand words, this one was worth almost four hundred pounds.

The day the article came out,  I stopped at the grocery store and picked up a copy on my way to work.  That itself was strange–picking up a newspaper I knew I was in–but the good news is I wasn’t in it for having been arrested, convicted, or indicted.   I was in the paper for something positive.  And I knew I was going to be in the paper.  I had done the interview.  I had submitted the photos.  I even knew when it was going to hit the stands.  What I didn’t know was that The Oregonian was going to publish my face all over the place.  A small version of my “before” and “after” photos was on the front page of the Living section.  No big deal.  The photos were tiny.  But oh, on the inside.  There I was, almost half the size of the page, right next to the TV listings… in my house, that’s the only page we read on a regular basis.

I read the paper in the parking lot.  Really, it was more of a quick scan because I started to a bit nauseous about the entire idea.  Putting the paper down, I drove to work, hoping that it would just kinda go away.  I hadn’t told too many people about the article–just a few close friends–so maybe no one would really notice.  They’d go to that page in the newspaper, double-check the start time on their nightly dose of Jeopardy, and that’d be it.

By the time I arrived at work, I felt a little better…until I happened upon one of my friends at work who did know about the article.  He helps me with my website, so I had given him a heads up about everything.  I had gone down to his office for something, and he had the paper spread out on his desk.  He told me it was a good article.  The praise felt awkward, but I repelled it (and the returning uneasiness) with the words that had calmed me down on the drive to work:  not many people would probably even see it, so it wasn’t a big deal.

That’s when he started to chuckle.  “Oh…NO,” he said, “The Oregonian has one of the largest circulations in the country!”  Immediately, the wave of nausea hit me again.  I felt physically ill.  I had to sit down.  My reaction only spurred on my friend (as with most good friends who encounter this sort of horrified reaction) as he decided to hop on the internet and look up the actual circulation of the paper.  He could barely speak through his laughter as he pointed out that the paper is distributed to a base of OVER THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND READERS PER DAY.

Great.  Thank you.  Just what I wanted to hear.

Digesting that tidbit of knowledge for just a second, I decided that I couldn’t be sickened over this any longer.  I calmed down and forced myself to come to the conclusion that since I couldn’t afford the cost of trying to purchase all three hundred thousand-plus copies that had blanketed the state, what was done was done, that I had done a good thing, and that there was no turning back.

The article did me a great favor and listed my website and blog.  I got some great emails from some really nice people…and a few strange people as well.  For the most part, it was all very flattering.  I got some great praise from a few other weight loss bloggers–two in particular–both are really amazing women.  Please check them out:


So a few days after the article came out, I had adjusted to my newfound celebrity.  My fears of insecurity had been replaced with pride…and a little overconfidence as well.  Riding my high, I decided it was time to move forward with my desire to start with public speaking engagements.  I’ve done quite a bit of public speaking in the past at other jobs, but that was a while ago, and I’m sure I’m a bit rusty.  I thought if I could just get in front of a few groups, I could work on my spiel, work on my timing, and get in some practice so I could really start to develop what I wanted to say.  I got a bit dressed up (meaning I wasn’t wearing my faded jeans and torn up shoes) and went to make my first “sales call” for DisappearingPaul, The Speaker.  There’s a pretty fantastic gym near my house called Club Sport.  It was built inside of a former Costco warehouse so the place is massive–and it caters to a huge audience.  My plan was to introduce myself and see what kind of mutually beneficial opportunities might exist.  Given the timing of the New Year, I was quite certain that the gym would be offering various weight loss programs.  I wasn’t interested in being paid–I mean, if they wanted to, that’d be a bonus–more than anything, I just wanted to hone my craft in front of an attentive bunch of people.

On my lunch hour, armed with a copy of my newspaper article, a nice coat, and my ever-growing confidence, I walked into that gym and asked to see the marketing manager.  The receptionist asked me who I was.  What?!?  Don’t you know me???  For crying out loud, woman–don’t you read?!?  I told her my name, and she wanted to know who I was representing.  I told her I wasn’t there to sell anything–I just wanted to be introduced to the marketing manager.  She didn’t even look up when she asked me to hold on and picked up the phone.  I could only hear half of the conversation when she explained to the marketing manager what was going on, but it was pretty obvious that they were trying to figure out how to politely get rid of me.   When she got off the phone, she threw out an uncomfortable smile, and said the marketing manager was too busy to meet with me–so I should just call her.  Now I have cold-called people, and I have been cold-called upon:  being a manager in that situation, I always met with suspected salespeople–even when I was swamped.  If there was something new out there, I wanted it before my competitors got it.  Sure, it’s a hassle most of the time–but hey, sometimes it pays just to be nice.  Cold calling is hard, especially in person.  And furthermore, what did she think she was gonna accomplish by blowing me off?  Okay, I’ll just call her–the second I walk out to my car!  What, is she afraid that coming out from behind the curtain was going to ruin her cover as the great and powerful Oz?

Bummed out but still quite determined, I thanked the woman, turned on my heel, walked out the door, got back to my car–and called the marketing manager.  I’d had the good sense to ask for her business card, so I had her direct line.  She picked up on the first ring and it really caught me off guard.  It was all I could do to call her out–what the hell?  Way to play hard-to-get, sweetie.  Too busy to let it ring twice, are ya?  But I forced a little restraint, introduced myself, and asked her if they had any weight loss programs starting after the first of the year.  She replied that yes, they had some programs planned.

The End.

Not knowing how to proceed and feeling the silence from her short answer starting to grow uncomfortable, I asked her if she happened to read The Oregonian.  She told me she did not.  Holy crap, really?  Just my luck–I spent so much of the week avoiding people who had, and now I’d met two people in a row who hadn’t.  Awesome.   So I told her the paper had just done a pretty nice article about me, and that I’d just accomplished a pretty significant weight loss.  I then told her I was offering my services–free of charge–for the opportunity to utilize my experiences to assist with their upcoming weight-loss programs.  I purposely didn’t tell her how much I had lost in order to gauge her interest.  Whenever anyone hears “I’ve lost a lotta weight” or “I’ve had a pretty significant weight loss” the next question (trust me on this, I hear it several times a day) is always “Really?  How much?”  Not with this chick.  It was obvious that she just wanted to get off the phone.  She couldn’t have been less interested–she said if I wanted, I could send her an email with the information about me–but she didn’t think they would even consider it, because they’ve had staff who have lost weight that could easily be used in the sort of program role that I was suggesting.

Apparently they have people on staff that have also lost almost FOUR HUNDRED pounds and it wasn’t really that big of a deal for them.

I thanked her for her time and told her I would send the email.  Hanging up the phone, I fought back the urge to also thank her for extinguishing the small spark of any post-article self-confidence I had recently been able to muster.  In past jobs, I made cold calls hundreds of times every day, both on the phone and in person.  The overwhelming majority of those calls went  just like this one–nowhere.  I never ever gave it a second thought–I just moved on to the next one and kept plugging away, knowing that my next cold call could be a sale.

But this was very different.

When I was representing whatever random business I was selling, and the door got slammed in my face, I never took it personally.  This time around, the rejection was so personal I couldn’t avoid it.  I wasn’t selling financial services–I was selling myself–okay maybe that doesn’t sound right.  I wasn’t working a street corner in a thong and tube top.  But I was putting myself out there.  Hanging up the phone with Marketing Manager Chick, I felt pretty damn defeated.

When I got home, I sent her the email and attached a link to the article in The Oregonian.  I didn’t expect a response.  Not surprisingly, she didn’t give me one.

Looking for someone to share in my rejection, I spoke to a friend of mine and she told me this was a great thing.  I now had something new to write about!  And when I did start getting speaking engagements and gaining some notoriety, I could revel in the fact this so-called “marketing manager” missed a rare opportunity to shake hands with awesomeness.  This is one of the reasons I love my friends.  They are just as petty and vindictive as I am.  It’s an invaluable support system.

So for now, I keep plugging away–writing my blog, working out, eating right, and looking for another opportunity.



One Comment

  1. Oh it’s true – she will rue the day she dissed you. But we must thank her for her ignorance and indifference.

    Paul – you inspired my entire office. We just started a Disappearing CUANM (acronym for our company) contest. No fad diets, no surgery, no whining – just putting the fork down and working out.

    I’ve lost 6 pounds already – thanks to you!

    Happy New Year my friend.

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