Sunday, June 29, 2014

Failure Coach L

Somewhere near Norman, Oklahoma

“I’ll tell you what…” Alan was in front of 300 people someplace in Oklahoma (Somewhere near Norman he thought). “I’ll tell you what…” he said again. “My friend Coach Robert Siena, God rest his soul, used to start a lot of his public comments with that phrase. It gave him time to respond to questions about his winning a lottery jackpot. That little phrase gave him time to think about his answer. It was something he learned as a High School Football Coach. I miss the coach. His legacy is alive and well though. The Coach convinced me to lend my name to a very unique and wonderful scholarship program that was not based solely on academics or athletics. It is unconditional award. He wanted it to be a gift with no strings attached. I thought he was nuts.” Alan paused for a smattering of laughter in the seats from the audience, most of whom were somewhat aware of the scholarship fund after a scan of conference materials. Alan Edgewater had come to respect the coach and love his memory. Alan had, from the start used Siena as a poster child for the philosophies of Failure First. Now, with his passing, the script allowed for a kind of spiritual reflection of life. Alan Edgewater went on to speak passionately of the impact the coach had on his players at Red Bud High School, the community, and the lives of the AEFFSF scholars and their respective families. AEFFSF was now on solid footing as a respected non-profit and a fiscally sound charitable trust. Alan was publically an enthusiastic supporter of the program.    

“God called Coach Siena Home. He is gone, but we will carry on. By his own admission, he was flawed. He made mistakes with his family, friends and his finances. His carelessness with the lottery winnings was legendary. I won’t get into the details, but he almost lost it all.” The audience, as always, was mesmerized. Another seminar of enthusiastic failure first fans. Tony Blank and the team at Ambrosia found the magic formula of leveraging a social media engagement and geographic buzz around Alan. It wasn’t about build it and they will come. Instead it was about building a franchise in middle markets. Tony Blank took a page from Las Vegas acts in appealing to Middle America. Ambrosia found venues like this on in Oklahoma around the country and Alan was obliged to keep the machine running. He was a media celebrity everywhere he went and a sure bet for anyone looking to book a sure draw. Alan had long since dismissed any reservations he had about the Ambrosia expenses. He understood now that they were indispensible, notably under the leadership of Tony Blank who had become a most trusted advisor. The Alan Edgewater franchise was a successful road show fortified with books, CDs, interactive neuroscience exercises on line, workbooks and merchandise that helped fuel the failure first fans.

Alan was not aware that Irene Siena was in the audience. She was invited to the University of Oklahoma as a breakout leader for a conference dedicated to education causes related to enhancing Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM). She wanted to learn more about how grants were managed. Jan Abbeshire suggested Irene catch Alan Edgewater which she did without calling any attention to herself. The references to her husband in Alan’s opening remarks made her smile. “I’ll tell you what,” she thought. “We are going to make a difference.” The chairman of the AEFFSF 503(c) she has a plan. She made her way back to St. Louis a renewed sense of purpose.

Tony Blank and Alan Edgewater traveled together to Tulsa where Ambrosia had another enthusiastic sell-out seminar at the Hyatt Regency hotel downtown. The road trip gave the two time to talk. Tony complemented Alan on his skillful and moving stage presence and vignettes in memory of Coach Siena. Alan was always grateful for feedback on these presentations and Tony was good at reading audiences. Alan knew the feedback would be helpful as he thought about his next audience. After this engagement tomorrow, the two would catch a flight out of Tulsa and be in St. Louis the following evening.     

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