November 19, 2014

You Are Full Of Happy Talk

It is not uncommon for people to reach out to me several times before they hire me. I know the drill. You’re chilling at home, enjoying a glass of wine, then suddenly you feel the urge to start googling information on life in federal prison, halfway house, your judge, going to prison, etc. Then somehow my site pops up.

Some readers immediately opt into my blogs, some email me, others buy my books, and some do nothing. Some call me directly. Today for the second time in three weeks a middle aged gentleman who is about to plead guilty called me. I liked this gentleman on our first call, and liked him even more on our second call.

“Kick it to me straight,” he demanded of me a few weeks ago when I learned how he had spent the last seven months preparing for the journey. During my calls, I try to ask penetrating questions that allow me to gauge whether I can be of value. When I answered his “kick it to me straight” question I told him politely that “I would be doing things differently”.

“Come on man”, he said, “that ain’t straight, kick it to me straight, man. Just cause you went to SC doesn’t mean you can’t kick it to me straight. I am facing some real time here.”

“Okay, bud”, I asked. “Ready”

“C,mon”, he demanded.

“You are full of happy talk”, I said directly.

“Hmmm. Well. Hmmmm. I am not sure exactly what that is, but I do not think my lawyers think I am full of it.”

“How much did you pay them?”

“About $400k.”

“Would you tell someone they were full of happy talk if they paid you $400K?”

“Keep going”, he said.

From there I explained that my good friend and mentor Michael Santos introduced me to the phrase “happy talk”. Essentially, “happy talk” is when people speak incessantly about what they will do, plan to do, and so on. In reality, though, they end up doing practically nothing. That was the case with this gentlemen, who by all measures is a good guy. All he did was talk about what he planned to do. Zero follow through.

By now I know that some of the people that reach out to me might not be ready to go “all in” today, but I am admire them for taking that first step. Some need help in coming to terms with the reality of the situation. Others need time and help in simply getting over the rage they feel for being indicted. Others remain bewildered that they were prosecuted, while others are so fearful for their future they can hardly function. All of those emotions are common and they all require separate strategies to emerge successfully.

To close I am proud to report this gentlemen choose to hire me. But he made me promise I would never stop speaking to him directly, and he insisted I hold him accountable when he started uttering that “happy talk.” I gave him my word I would.

Justin Paperny


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