A Tribute To Og Mandino ©

The Clarion
by Rita Emmett

When I went to the National Speakers Association Conference in July of 1996, I wrote out a list of goals and my first priority was to meet Og Mandino. He had been a powerful influence on me all my life and now I wanted to tell him a story about his book's impact on my son & his wife.

During the 4 day conference, my search for Og became a joke. Everywhere I went, he had just been there and I "just missed him". By the 3rd day, strangers were coming up  to me asking, "Did you meet him yet?" Friends inquired about my "Og Quest". I finally summoned up my courage, called his room and left a message on voice mail. In return, Betty left a very gracious message on my voice mail explaining that as the conference came to a close, Og's schedule was packed; she kindly listed the places he'd be and wished me luck.

However, I knew I had an ace up my sleeve. I planned to be lurking like a buzzard when he showed up to his table for "Meet the Pros". Months earlier when I'd received my "Meet the Pros" selection sheet, I had immediately filled out Og as my first choice and faxed it back, but didn't make it. Don't know why. Maybe my mail took a day or 2 longer than other folks. But even though I wasn't assigned his table, I knew where he'd be and I was going to meet him ... finally. And I did. I wanted to tell him my story, but he was being interrupted so much, I decided I'd write him a letter later. So I just kind of hung around absorbing the "glow of Og".

Well, when the session started, one person had not arrived. THERE WAS AN EMPTY CHAIR AT OG'S TABLE RIGHT NEXT TO HIM! I asked if I could sit in as a "stand-by" until that person arrived. He said it was fine, but he'd been warned not to start pulling up extra chairs, and I assured him that when that missing person showed up, I'd leave.

Then the session began and Og made some offers that left people thrilled, speechless and close to tears. He had arranged for the 30 people who'd signed up for his 3 "Meet the Pros" sessions to send their manuscripts to his agent who had agreed to read all  of them. He had the list of 30 names which he'd give to her, plus he gave out her address and a secret "code" to put on the envelope so she would know it was one of "Og's chosen thirty".

For those of you who don't want to be authors-when-you-grow-up, you may not grasp the magnitude of his offer; this gesture of Og's was unheard of. Writers are told to NEVER reveal their agents' names, let alone give out their addresses. At this point, the other 9 people at the table looked stunned & delighted all at the same time. Also at this point, one woman walked in at the far end of the room and headed our way.

THEN Og went on to really knock our socks off. When any of these 30 people's books actually was published, Og would write a testimonial for the back cover. Our table lifted off the ground, people were overwhelmed, the fellow next to me was hyperventilating, there were tears in most people's eyes ... and out of the corner of my eye, I could see that woman still walking across the room, still headed our way, and I started hearing the theme music from "Jaws".

Og continued to explain the logistics of his offer, the woman was aiming directly for our table, my heart was in my throat.

Then she arrived. She shook Og's hand and apologized for being late. I stood up and gave her my chair, kissed Og on the cheek and thanked him, and turned to leave. Externally, I looked gracious and dignified ... one who takes the "high road", internally, I was going over different ways of murdering that woman.

A man at the table grabbed my hand and said, "How can you walk away from this?". I  said, "That's the deal I made, my name isn't on that list of 30 people. I'm supposed to be at another table."

Og said, "STOP". He turned to the woman and said, "This session is only 20 minutes long. I've just given our some very important information which you need to hear and we can't take time to repeat it. You come back when the next session starts, we'll pull up a chair and squeeze you in." He pointed to me, "YOU come back and sit down next to me." Then he patted my hand, asked my name and added it to the list. I remained as gracious and dignified looking as is possible with my lower lip quivering, my throat choked closed and one tear rolling down my cheek. His eyes twinkled.

EPILOGUE:

I did write that letter to him and told him I come from and Irish family of story tellers and just had to tell him the story of his book and its impact on my son and daughter-in-law. He sent back the most charming letter ... mentioned his red-haired blue eyed Irish mother who also is from a long line of story tellers. He went on to say, "We can't lose with that background." He ended with "Looking forward to writing your testimonial for the book jacket".

The letter was dated August 27 and arrived in my mail box Friday, August 30. I made a copy of it and stuck it on my bulletin board. What a cherished possession! Four days later, he died.

I will always cherish not only my letter, but also that most precious meeting with Og. He and his books have helped to formulate my "philosophy of life" and have inspired my to many wise moves and adventures throughout my life. His offer of writing a testimonial has motivated me to write a book which I'd hope he'd be proud of, has inspired me to write to a few other favorite authors to ask for a testimonial, and my dream is to have my book touch someone's heart as much as Og's books have touched mine.

With love and gratitude in my heart,
Rita Emmett 

 

Want to write a book? Go to Rita’s web site www.RitaEmmett.com and click on The Writer’s Room. Take a look at Rita's The Procrastinator's Guide To Authorship: Stop Putting Off Your Success. Find a free article about writing proposals in The Writer’s Room

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Rita Emmett, author of The Procrastinator’s Handbook and The Clutter-Busting Handbook, is a professional speaker who presents Keynotes and Seminars nationwide. She can be reached at 847-699-9950 and email is Rita@RitaEmmett.com

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