After 22 years wearing a coat and tie to work every day, Ed Hunter left MegaGlop Hunters Are We, Inc. about 5 months ago. He hated the bureaucracy after a while and, more directly, he came to realize that his clients were no longer calling for MegaGlop services—they were calling for Ed. Or at least that's what he came to believe.
In fact, the clients were nervous and the many who he quietly asked about giving him work if he left did not, in fact, do as they promised. They were nervous about performing a search with a true independent. The clients liked the big fancy office and the pro basketball tickets every now and then and the brand name and the perception of "thousands of people" working for them when they hired MegaGlop.
So Ed realized that from the 120 clients he thought he'd have, the real number was only about 25—and he wasn't sure when his next gig would come from that group. So today he…slept in. It was an unusual feeling—for 22 years he had to be in the office by 5:30—he ran the California office and there was always a conference call with New York at 8:30 their time.
But today he didn't need to be anywhere until noon. So he slept in. Then worked out. Had a nice breakfast. Patted his dog (which was about all he had left after the divorce—his wife didn't love the 22 years thing and all of the corporate "on command" performances). He dressed casual and met a potential client for lunch.
"Whatchya got for me?"
"A few things coming up—the bosses don't wanna go indie though—too much risk."
"Risk? Me? I have 22 years on the ground…."
"Yeah, but you know how Corporate is—nervous nellies. And risk."
"Well…juuust in case you give us an axe murderer, THEY get fired. If it was someone recommended by MegaGlop, they can just blame MegaGlop’s lousy due diligence process in researching bodies for our shop. That way they...DON'T get fired. See?"
"Yes. Idiots. Not how things work. What could I do to win this search?"
"Well, MegaGlop wants $150k guaranteed and a bunch of other crap. What could you do?"
"Aha! My sweet spot. I'll name that tune for $50k and will foot my own legal and research and due diligence fees."
(Ed had a retired CIA researcher who liked to work for him for $40 an hour on "cases"—Ed figured 50 hours or $2k for his buddy still netted him $48k in his pocket for doing this search.)
"Great. I'll take it back to Corporate and the boys. So how's your short game these days?"
Ed left lunch and…went to the grocery store. He got together food and wine and dessert stuff for a little dinner party he was throwing for execs looking for work, with a few client/buyers attending as well. The dinner would cost him $2k—food and waiter and clean up service and booze for 25+ people. One little search and this dinner would be more than paid for.
The rest of the afternoon was a blur and then the evening came. "Bob, meet Boyd; Boyd, Bob. Plastics. You boys have a lot in common. You should chat."
“Sue, meet Mr. Wu. Wu, Sue. Credit cards. Debit cards. Be pay pals. Have a beer.”
It was an endless stream of snippets and octopussian glad-handing. Ed was a yenta, introducing for dowries. He'd thrown these things a hundred times in the past—but everything was then on MegaGlop’s nickel; his secretary had handled the details. But now he had no secretary—it was all…him. Liberating but stressful in different ways. In the MegaGlop era, he would have just taken everyone to a restaurant and spent $4k instead of $2k; but on his nickel, the nickels were…more carefully managed.
Ed had three searches going now—and two of them had been going on for over 2 months; the clients were getting impatient. At this party were a half dozen "targets" who he thought might be a fit. And luckily the clients were there as well—it was a "low risk" way of doing a casual introduction, hoping things worked out.
Because Ed was a new kid on the block as a firm, all of his deals were "contingency" deals—that is, there were no guarantees. If he didn't find a match for the search that the company was looking for, he didn't get paid. At MegaGlop, there was always a big fat guarantee. And he also knew that "hired" meant that the employee remained at the company in good standing for at least 6 months. So there was a lot of breath-holding along the way.
His retired CIA buddy was there as well, hoping he'd find some hours. "Anything?"
"A few. Maybe that guy for Global Online Debit.”
"See the way he taps his left foot. Note the nostril snorts. That jowl thing. Biting."
"Uh…yeah, I guess a little weird.”
"Coke. He's got a cocaine problem. Stay away. Easy spot."
Ed was floored. "Do I owe ya 40 bucks for that one?"
The CIA did not have a great sense of humor.*
Everyone had finally left by 11. The liquor cabinet was empty. It had been a vastly long day—and Ed had earned exactly zero dollars. There were whales out there, hot streaks to be had. He knew he had to just…wait…. He hoped.
*There are no employees of Shmoop University (to our knowledge) who are alumni of the CIA or any of its affiliates, partners or "off balance sheet" managers.