Who’s Your Marlon Brando?

Recently on Turner Classic Movies, I watched a documentary simply titled “Brando.”

There was a moment in it that sliced through my heart.

It didn’t come from the legendary movie actor himself, though.

It came from Brando’s Apocalypse Now co-star, Frederic Forrest, who said this about Brando:

“I never had any scenes with him. He killed me twice – in ‘Missouri Breaks’ he shot me out of the outhouse, and in ‘Apocalypse Now’ he cut my head off. But I never got to have a scene with him. I regret that … But God Almighty, I wish I had had enough nerve to meet him … to know him … but I was too in awe … wow …”

What struck me was the true sense of regret Forrest put behind these words. You could tell it was something that still pains him to this day.

Have you ever been in a similar situation … where you wanted to take action, but didn’t?

Perhaps, like Forrest, you wanted to introduce yourself to someone, but let the moment slip by.

Your situation might not be as dramatic as missing the chance to hang out with someone as famous as Marlon Brando, but it’s no less important.

In the copywriting world, it might be like having an opportunity to meet industry icons the likes of Michael Masterson, Bob Bly, Bill Bonner or Herschell Gordon Lewis (to mention only a few) and not taking advantage of it.

But by seizing the opportunity, not only will you get to meet the person you admire and respect, but you may also end up with some “glicken.”

Meeting the Man Who Wrote the Book

That’s what happened to AWAI member Pam Foster, and it paid off for her big time.

Before Pam became a copywriter, she worked for L.L. Bean, where they happened to have a copy of Bob Bly’s The Copywriter’s Handbook.

Once she read it and started to become more and more interested in copywriting, she found the name “Bob Bly” popping up quite often.

You see, Bob is the author of more than 70 books on copywriting and marketing. He’s been paid millions of dollars in fees, royalties, and advances from more than 100 publishers, editors, and corporate clients. With more than 25 years of experience, he’s received numerous awards and has been recognized as one of the top copywriters in the industry.

So when Pam spotted Bob at AWAI’s 2005 Bootcamp, she knew immediately this was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up. She walked over and introduced herself. Pam says …

“We’ve since become friends and colleagues. He refers work to me and has been an affiliate for my Internet book. He’s a great person to know, and I never would have met him had I not gotten up my nerve to introduce myself to him.”

One Little Conversation
Can Have a Big Impact on Your Career

This past May at AWAI’s Writer’s Retreat, Toni Rockis started up a conversation with Paul Hollingshead … knowing he was a co-founder of AWAI.

Toni, a grant writer, told Paul about the huge opportunity out there for a program that educates people on the ins and outs of submitting grants to raise funds for worthy organizations.

Paul talked to Katie about it, and the very next day they asked Toni to write up a program outline and think about a sales letter for promoting it. They’re moving forward with the project as I type this.

In addition to taking action, what made Toni’s meeting successful is that she planned in advance to meet Paul. She knew he would be at the Writer’s Retreat … and she thought about what she would say and how she would introduce her idea for a grant writing program.

Like Toni, you can “prepare” to meet the person you’ve always wanted to introduce yourself to. Doing this accomplishes two things:

  • It helps calm your nerves. You’ll be rehearsed and confident in what you’ll say (avoiding any fears of sounding silly or saying the wrong thing).
  • It exponentially increases your chances of getting “glicken.” You’ll know the best way of introducing any ideas you might have, since you’ll have thought about it long and hard.

What Pam and Toni have in common is that – despite any nervousness they might have experienced – they had the courage to take action.

They got to meet their “Marlon Brando.”

If there’s a “Marlon Brando” in your life, I encourage you to take action.

Don’t let the opportunity slip by.

And just like Pam and Toni, you’ll never have to think “What if …?”

John Wood
AWAI Staff Copywriter

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: June 18, 2008

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