Sample Chapter #2

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Mr. "X" and Mr. President

When I was 18, I took my first sabbatical from college. Sabbatical is a politically correct term that parents use when they are too embarrassed to tell their friends that their son quit school. I packed my car in Tallahassee, Florida and headed for California to take my chances on the professional tennis tour. My first stop was Austin, Texas where I planned to spend a few days practicing before heading west. When I arrived at my hotel in Austin I ran into a friend from my hometown in Louisiana. Coincidence? I'm not so sure.

My friend was in Austin on vacation with some of his friends who I did not know. That would make them official strangers! One of the friends was a man in his late forties. Remember, I was just 18 years old at the time. Did I mention that age doesn't matter?

I hit it off right away with this man. Let's just call him "Mr. X" for now. I played tennis with Mr. X a few times, and joined him and my hometown friend for dinner. When I left Austin a couple of days later I exchanged addresses with Mr. X and promised to stay in touch with him, which I did. Our paths wouldn't cross again until several years later.

During that time, I made every effort to stay in touch with Mr. X. We exchanged letters periodically. I mailed him postcards from my travels and I always sent him a card on his birthday, not because I had to but because I wanted to. I called him for advice occasionally and we always corresponded at Christmas. Our brief acquaintance in Texas slowly evolved into a friendship that is now almost 30 years old. Over a period of several years, Mr. X referred almost one million dollars worth of business to me, not because he had to but because he wanted to. This great relationship was possible because I met a friend of a friend in Texas when I was 18. And I stayed in touch. Today, email would be a great way to stay in touch with all the new contacts you make. It's a quick, easy way to communicate and best of all it's free!

It's not important what Mr. X's real name is. What is important is that I met Mr. X when I was 18 years old. You are never too young to start making contacts.

Communication built that relationship for me just as it will for you. Your Mr. X might be your next-door neighbor or it might be the sister of one of your friends (in which case, of course, it would be Ms. X). You just never know who your Mr. or Ms. X might be so treat everyone you meet with respect and great interest. Remember, you can learn something from everyone you meet. As you build your relationships with communication, doors will open, opportunity will knock, and friendships will be made. Your process of "luck" will develop.

You can never keep in touch with too many people. I learned this lesson at an early age from my father, the guy with the Timex. He was the absolute king of correspondence. The man has licked more stamps than anyone on Earth. My father was famous for saying, "If you're bored, write a letter." For some reason, this advice went in one ear and got stuck before it came out the other. I followed his advice, but I still wasn't sure what letter writing had to do with my future.

When my father finished college he drove from his hometown in Delaware to Midland, Texas to work in the oil fields. The job he had been promised was a position as a "roughneck" on an oil rig. Not only was it the lowest paying job on the rig, it was also the dirtiest. The roughnecks handled the drill pipe as it came in and out of the ground. At the end of each day the roughnecks were always covered with mud that smelled like week-old dead shrimp.

Luckily for my dad, the grimy job he was promised had fallen through. Unfortunately, another job, just as grimy, became available two weeks later. In the meantime, my dad looked up a guy in Midland named Toby.

Toby was a friend of one of my dad's acquaintances back in Delaware. Toby invited my dad out to lunch with Poppy, one of the other guys in his building. Toby, Poppy, and my dad became friends and continued to have lunch together for several months until my dad finally got transferred out of the mud and out of the state.

"Don't depend on a rabbit's foot for luck; remember, it didn't work too well for the rabbit."
- Anonymous

As you might expect, the three new friends kept in touch by mail for years to come, especially Poppy and my dad. Ironically, they would never see each other in person again. For the next 30 years, all they did was write letters to each other every few months.

Thirty years! My dad eventually got married and had three children.which explains how I got here. Poppy, whose first name is really George, moved to Washington, D.C. because his last name just happened to be Bush and he became President of the United States. True story.

When I was a teenager, I remember my dad telling me about this friend of his in Texas who was becoming quite prominent on the political scene. A few years later, he told me that his friend, George Bush, was the same George Bush that had just been elected Vice-President of the United States. Every kid wants to believe his father but I was having a tough time with this one - until a few years later.

I was in Dallas, Texas on business. I walked down to the health club at my hotel for a quick workout. The club was swarming with Secret Service agents. I asked one of them what was going on and he told me that Vice-President Bush was in town.

"Oh really?" I said. "Do you know where he is? He's a friend of my father and I'd like to say hello." I'm sure the agent thought I was insane. He looked at me and said, "Get a life kid. I can't tell you where the vice-president is."

He didn't have to tell me. I looked down the hall and there he was, Vice- President Bush, surrounded by a whole pile of Secret Service agents. They were heading my way and as they got closer my heart started pounding and my knees started knocking. I think I forgot to breathe for a minute. Finally, just as they were about to go by I thought, "What the heck, I've got nothing to lose here."

So, like an idiot, I yelled, "Vice-President Bush!"

You would have thought a shot had been fired. Most of the Secret Service agents swarmed around the vice-president while two of the agents got right in my face.

The whole group stopped for a brief second and I assumed that was my cue to continue. "Hi, I'm Chad Foster from Lafayette, Louisiana." Vice President Bush looked up, cracked a smile, and said, "Really? You must be David's son." "Yes sir, I am," I answered as I finally started breathing again. The agents around Vice-President Bush backed off. They made room for me as I moved forward to shake hands with Mr. Bush. The vice-president and I had a short conversation about our families and our travels, and then went our separate ways.

A week or so later, my father called. He said he was sending me an overnight package containing something he thought I would enjoy. The package arrived the next morning and I opened it immediately. It was a handwritten postcard to my father from Vice-President Bush telling my dad that he had met me in Dallas.

Unbelievable! To this day, I'm still amazed. How could a guy as busy as Vice- President Bush find time to write a postcard to someone he hadn't seen in 30 years about some 27-year-old kid he didn't even know? Communication was beginning to take on a whole new meaning for me. I guess my dad was right - once again.

George Bush was not a politician by nature. He was a master of communication. A couple of years later George Bush was elected President of the United States by the friends and contacts he made and stayed in touch with over a 40-year period.

You can never stay in touch with too many people. Fill your address book and then get another one.

In case you're wondering, I wrote a letter of my own to Vice-President Bush when I got home. And yes, he wrote back a few days later.

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