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It's Only A Cookie, Right?     -   The Longevity Zen of Health

Imagination, indeed. It took a man, illiterate at 42, into a state of being famous and highly respected as a teacher; and no longer destitute, either. That first descriptive word, "famous," is meant literally, because that became part of his name: Famous Amos.

Wally, so broke past his fortieth birthday that he compensated for not having enough money for Christmas presents by giving gifts of his home-made cookies. The response was so stunning that he scrimped, borrowed and bent until he had enough to buy a four-hundred dollar oven, is reported to have stolen electricity from a neighbor by way of some two to three hundred feet of extension cord, and baked quite a few cookies.

Packing them into little brown bags, he used one of the greatest and certainly sure-fire sales methods -- which works ONLY when the product or service is identifiably first class in quality. What was this wonderful shortcut he used?

Well, even in the at-that-time relaxed environment of Hawaii, he knew that a black guy trying to walk in cold and sell cookies to grocery stores was not about to win "most likely to succeed" awards. The remedial factors here were threefold, as it is with just about anything a person might pursue excellence at.

1) His grandma's recipe for chocolate chip cookies was no small thing: the cookies were insensibly delicious. In the world of business, superior products enjoy a sizeable head start on the competition, regardless of high or low price. There's an extra message here for some of you, right here in this paragraph. It's both powerful, and hoped that you catch it, because it will drive your sales through the roof the first hundred times you work at getting someone to say yes to what you're asking.

3) That shortcut referred to a few sentences back? Ah, the wonders of a great shortcut. He used it - one at a time, several hundred times, and came out of it, came out of the 25-year run of strikeouts and screwups... with health, wealth, personal fulfillment, huge respect, and more... all in less than a hundred months! Anyone and close to everyone who follows the recipe will get pretty much the same cookie, and it's not just the edible type that's alluded to.

Instead of walking in and trying to break through barriers that have worn down countless men and women in sales, he simply approached each grocery manager or owner and said, "Hi, please try one of these cookies."

No, ladies and gentleman, he did NOT give up his natural inclination to laugh and shuck, wheedle and entice in the manner of a salesman graduated repeatedly from the University of Hard Knocks rather than any accredited marketing programs. He quickly learned that not one of the big supermarket chains would even give him an appointment, so he held his suasions in check until after he asked each of more than one thousand grocery store owners or managers to eat a cookie.

Only Wally, Famous Amos himself, could ever tell how many people tossed him politely or otherwise out of their establishments. More than a few others, on the other hand, can speak of the dozens and dozens and scores and hundreds of people who ate one cookie and suffered instant, sometimes profound addiction to these cookies which may well have been stolen from Heaven itself. Because they were ALL hand-baked, even after a couple of years they were not so easy to find. The first time I ate just one Famous Amos cookie back when Wally still owned and ran the company, I bought every bag on the shelf. Without exception, all nineteen or twenty of the people I tried them on convulsed with pleasure and demanded more; and "demanded" is the most fitting word for a number of those conversations.

In case you've not gleaned all three of the undeniably potent, nigh-guaranteed PowerGems tucked into this page; if you've missed the points offered thus far, let's look at the end of the story, perhaps that will illumine the corner of mediocrity you choose to swelter in the shadows of.

Wally Amos, as mentioned, is reported to have received about forty-one million dollars for his company. He wrote LVA (Literacy Volunteers of America) a thank-you check for the gift they gave him, patiently helping him to learn to read and write in his early to mid-forties. The check was in the amount of ten million dollars, an undeniably gracious, first-class act, and it's hard to imagine you disagreeing. Ten million dollars is quite a "thank you," true?

As for the remainder of his money, unscrupulous people, not least of whom were people he'd thought were friends, wiped him out of the whole bundle. It wasn't merely a matter of over-generosity, if there really is such a thing. To borrow from street parlance, he had his clock cleaned... repeatedly, by those who knew they were depriving him of all he'd earned.

Having signed a non-compete clause, it was years before he could re-enter the cookie business to try and regenerate his financial fortunes. He took his burgeoning literacy, and desire to both serve and please people by helping them to help themselves, and began teaching other adults how to read and write, mostly as a volunteer. Money has clearly not been a major factor in the life of this unusual and giving man. Fortunately, he'd learned well from his Grandma and her use of knowledge to create these masterpiece cookies that knowledge is not power until and only after the knowledge is put to work.

He was so good at teaching, even as a volunteer, that a number of people paid to identify those who excel began hiring him to teach illiterate adults how to read and write through the medium of public television. Any number of times over the years I've flipped to Channel 13 in NY, our excellent public television station, to see Wally Amos grinning happily at the camera, never failing to boost my day when he'd close with his trademark comment to the effect of, "... and if you practice these things we've talked about today, you'll be.... one..... smart..... cookie." It's doubtful that he ever earned a huge living teaching literacy skills on public television and it's crystal clear that he earned huge fulfillment, satisfaction, and best of all, effectiveness as a national teacher to who knows how many illiterate or semi-literate kids and adults of all ages. He succeeded, and he won.

Meanwhile, back at the Famous Amos Cookie Company, where new people came to create America's most expensive cookies, one of the owners, whose photograph may yet grace the word "idiot" in dictionaries in place of the standard textual definition, had the idea that money in his pocket was far more important and meritorious than bringing major chunks of pleasure to a growing crowd of fans. If you never got to eat a "real" Famous Amos cookie, then it's not imaginable that you haven even a clue, (nor, as a consequence, much inclination) to know) what cookie perfection is.

I'm sure that no less than three hundred or more different types of cookies have intentionally or accidentally found their way from the outside of my mouth to the inside, and never once, even in my gifted grandmother's kitchen, have I ever obtained such a physically, and in an odd if minor way, emotionally fulfilling cookie. Neither, for that matter, has that cookie been trumped or overshadowed by any other pastry or baked good. No cake, torte, blini or blintz; no pie, popover or muffin has ever enjoy a one hundred percent success rate as the original Famous Amos cookie, as made by Wally Amos. A few million people are alive today who understand exactly how disproportionately delicious these cookies were. There is no humor intended in telling those of you who haven't a clue what we're talking about that I feel hugely sorry for you; your life is just not as complete as that of a human who got to bite into this magnificent miniature mountains of light, airy, solid chunks of crunchy perfect cookies.

At the same time, upper-level luxuries, even when it's just a couple of dollars

Regarding the moron or mountebank who got a case of greed, the method of baking was changed, because it saved a great deal of money, and the chocolate chips didn't really need to be that large, and the other ingredients could all be had for a better price, wherein the company could still charge top dollar for the cookies without having to put a bunch of unnecessarily "expensive" ingredients into it..

Sure and sure, you know the rest of the story. It was faster and cheaper not to make them by hand anymore. And so it continued, with each small reduction in quality being matched by a reduced interest in paying top dollar for barely edible cookies.

Result: at least one person in America who doesn't understand why the various Attorneys General do not file action against the company for criminal fraud and other crimes attendant upon their production and promulgation of what has become a pretty lousy cookie, so antithetical to the masterpieces produced by the founder and his dedicated employees.

True, the market always speaks, and the company had to drop its prices at least six times in fifteen years, where other manufacturers have continued to increase their prices. More and more, we see bags of Famous Amos Cookies in closeout stores, selling for a mere quarter per bag, where Wally, twenty-five years ago, was charging more than two dollars for the tiny bags. The translation in terms of today's dollars is akin to saying that Wally Amos would today be charging five dollars for the same bags now being sold for a quarter, simply because he would surely have continued baking the best cookies that the world has ever known.

2) No matter than he'd struck out on more than more than a thousand occasions, Wally Amos was as much a winner when dead broke as has been in personal financial prosperity. Tapping into his wisdom provides a sharp and immediately useful tool for any human setting out for excellence. Knowing that "one more try" is the single greatest and most powerful action, the most absolutely guaranteed shortcut of personal action, the true "Famous Amos" proved its perfection by developing wealth to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. If you're not willing to learn from a man who went from poverty to writing a ten million dollar thank you check, who ARE you willing to learn from?

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