Never trust a man with a red velvet smoking jacket

… a life lesson learned from an article I read in Vanity Fair about the wealthy victims of Bernie Madoff and his associates in America.  The article is recommended for the sound of outraged rich people coming, shrilly, to the realisation that bad things can happen to them too.  Along with some fab bitchiness from the heights of US society, the article points out the danger of having all your eggs in one basket.  The people who were financially wiped out were the ones who trusted Madoff with everything they had rather than spreading the risk.   In freelance terms that’s the same as allowing yourself to be dependent on one client for too much work.  I got burned that way before when I was doing almost all my work for a part of Channel 4 which disappeared in an unexpected corporate restructure.  The realisation has hit recently that this concentration of work is happening again, although as the market shrinks the possibilty of spreading the risk is less than it used to be.  I will, however, do my best to diversify, otherwise I might end up having to sell the furs and the jewels and give up the membership of the Palm Beach country club…


4 responses to “Never trust a man with a red velvet smoking jacket

  1. I once knew a man who owned a small aluminium foundry in the Black Country. He was happy, had a wide customer base and although he wasn’t making a fortune he was doing well enough to employ his nephew as his sales director and as his first and only salesman. His nephew, let’s call him Tom, a recent business school graduate, looked at his uncle’s business and he realised his uncle had no automotive customers and these were the largest sector of his potential market. Tom was very industious and eventually came up with a small order from a major automobile manufacturer. His uncle was delighted, borrowed some money from the bank and tooled up to fill the order. This cycle was repeated over and over again. The foundry grew and prospered until it reached the stage that what had once been a small foundry with a wide customer base had now become a large foundry with a big overdraft and a very small customer base. And then the blow came. Tom reported to his uncle that the large UK automaker had insisted on a swingeing price reduction or else no new orders. The result. In due course the foundry was forced to close, the bank lost its money, many good blameless hard working people lost their jobs, the automobile maker lost a reliable source of castings, Tom’s uncle was a broken man and Tom had lost not only his job but also his future inheritance. There are many morals to this true story. Not only not to put all one’s eggs into one basket but also not to count one’s chickens before those eggs have been hatched and not to appoint one’s nephew, even if he is a bright new business school graduate, to positions of responsibility without more experienced supervision.

  2. So what is the problem with velvet smoking jackets? Didnt Jon Pertwee have a purple one as the 3rd Dr Who?

    • But darling, NOT AT ALL the kind of thing one wants to see at the country club. Imagine. They did business on the beach. They kept coming to the club even when it was CRYSTAL clear they weren’t welcome. Quelle horreur. Chap’s evidently a bounder of the VERY worst kind.

  3. Pingback: 2011: what I’ve learnt from a hard year in business | Sole Trader PR

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