I suppose I’d spare myself a fair bit of teeth gnashing and hair pulling if I’d just heed the advice above. But given my disdain for job, and my inability to even pronounce boss, I am, by nature and necessity, very proactive when it comes to hunting opportunities that could result in financial gain.
I see opportunity in the strangest places. And I come up with strange ideas. Actually, I don’t find my ideas strange at all, but I ain’t everyone else, that’s for damn sure.
In the fall of 2008, I was commissioned by Montenegro Airlines
to edit its website (English only), and a number of documents. The gig gave me some insight into the company’s strategy and, conversely, its reality. Since wisely getting out of its marriage to Serbia, in 2006, Montenegro has followed an economic development plan that relies a great deal on tourism. And Montenegro has grown its tourism sector into a fairly healthy and vibrant one… well, for about four or five months a year.
But never mind that.
Before I finished my editing work, I’d come up with an idea that would – I was convinced and still am – increase tourist traffic to Montenegro from The West. It was a simple idea that would cost almost nothing. I asked far a meeting with the airline’s VP of marketing and the country’s Minister of Tourism (hey, it’s a small country). When I got a meeting with middle managers I cancelled the order I’d placed for my new ride.
The meeting was scheduled, and then cancelled. And again. I explained that my idea was time sensitive, and that there was going to be a great deal of discussion, at the highest levels of the country, so we’d best get on with it. This intrigued them enough to finally come to the table.
Pitching creative ideas to stiffs is an awful experience. I’ve done it dozens, if not hundreds of times, and almost every time I have done so I have felt their discomfort as they gaze upon me. They often start squirming when I smile and offer my hand.
Whenever this happens, for reasons I cannot fathom, they start to smell like bacon. I hate the smell of bacon.
And so it was again, on this occasion, but I had fuck all to lose, so I kept smiling and got down to business.
The guys across the table were both in their mid/late 20s. You couldn’t come up with triple digits if you, somehow, managed to fuse their IQs. I’d bet anything that they’d gotten their jobs through nepotism.
“You have an incredible opportunity on the horizon,” I said. “March 24 will be the 10th anniversary of the beginning of NATO’s war against Yugoslavia.”
Oh, it smelled like BACON in the room the second after I spoke those words.
I studied them for a few seconds and resisted the burning urge to burst into laughter. They stared at me hard. Their big, square Slavic heads stayed perfectly still.
Silence filled the room.
“We can get tens of millions of dollars worth of free adverting for the tourism industry because of this unfortunate anniversary.”
One of them twitched. The other smiled just a bit. They were intrigued. Baffled. I certainly had their attention.
“That free advertising will inspire tens of thousands of Westerners, who have never even heard of Montenegro before, to flock here and spend hundreds of millions of euros.”
“They will come this year. They will come back next year. And the year after that.”
I was sorely tempted to get up and walk away from the table right then, saying, “Tell your bosses to call me if they want to know more.” I should have, but I didn’t.
“We run a campaign offering deep discounts on everything from flights to hotels, restaurants, bars, shopping… everything tourists spend money on, from March 24 until June 10, the day the war came to an end.”
I shut up and waited for a reaction. I got none. There was absolutely no sign of intelligence coming from either of them. I plunged on, anyway.
“We don’t get any tourists until mid June, anyway, so every tourist we get is a bonus.” I’d done my homework.
I shut up and stared across the table. Neither of them reacted. I stayed silent until one of them finally asked, “How?”
“Starting on New Years Day, we send Milo (the Prime Minister, who is the smartest motherfucker in the Balkans)
to the capitals of every NATO country and have him say, ‘Ten years ago, you flew to my country and dropped bombs on my people.”
“This year, come back
and party with us.”
Milo never called me.