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.
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,