Managing Remington Steele

THE NEED FOR A REMINGTON STEELE

For the reasons I explained in great detail during this post, Black business owners who are serious about success need to stop structuring their businesses around hopes of appealing to African-American consumers. The masses of African-American consumers are emotionally incapable of responding appropriately to any visibly Black-owned business, regardless of its quality. African-American business owners need to position their businesses as “colorless” in order to tap into the larger pool of nonblack consumers. Unless they find out otherwise, many (if not most) American consumers will assume that a business is White-owned. Making your business “colorless” means to preserve this assumption of White ownership for as long as possible.

Often, this involves having a White front person. Let’s call him or her “Remington Steele”, after the TV show character:

Stephanie Zimbalist plays Laura Holt, a private detective who appears to find that her potential clients are unwilling to hire a woman. Business picks up dramatically when she invents a fictitious male superior whom she names Remington Steele, after her Remington typewriter and the Pittsburgh Steelers football team.

In the first episode, she encounters a Humphrey Bogart-loving thief, played by Pierce Brosnan, who overhears someone calling for “Remington Steele” and, in order to escape a pair of murderous thugs, impulsively assumes Remington Steele’s identity. By the end of the episode, he chooses to make the alias permanent and assumes the role of Laura’s “boss,” an arrangement Laura accepts because of her realization that now her agency at least needs a figurehead boss.

A number of real-world business owners have realized that they needed some sort of Remington Steele in order for their businesses to survive and thrive. As a Black business owner, the reality is that you won’t even get the opportunity to provide excellent products and service to most potential customers (of any race, including Blacks) if they know your business is Black-owned. As I mentioned to a reader during an earlier conversation,

For AA business owners, it’s a difficult, hostile business environment all-around. I agree with you that things are not much better with nonblack consumers. I never said it was Paradise with them. But here’s what I feel is the (meaningful) difference:

If you can position yourself in such a way that maintains “colorlessness”—let’s be blunt, in a way that maintains the illusion of White ownership—then your business has the chance to survive long enough to maybe, perhaps . . . be judged on its actual merits. There’s NO realistic hope of that when dealing with AA consumers as a visibly Black-owned business. AA consumers won’t patronize the business, AND they’ll be more prone to rob and/or steal you blind if they know it’s Black-owned.

If your business can survive long enough, you might be able to develop a professional reputation that’s well-known enough to get you over that “racism from nonblack consumers” hump.

It’s not a direct comparison (after all, she’s a WW dealing with other White people), but this is what the Men With Pens blogger was able to accomplish with her online business. She “passed” as a WM-owned business long enough to more or less get over the sexism hump.

She came up with a decidedly MALE pseudonym, and named her blog the manly-sounding “MEN With Pens.” Her problem was that at a certain point, she had to make business phone calls. And then customers would hear her (woman’s) voice.

She talked about all of this in her post entitled Why James Chartrand Wears Women’s Underpants.

I’ve heard tales of Black business owners who do like the AA plumbing company owner who pretends to be an employee of his own company when he goes out on service calls.

The Men With Pens blogger had a virtual Remington Steele. This is often best of all because the owner has complete control over a fictitious Remington Steele. However, other types of businesses require a real-life Remington Steele. A real-life Remington Steele can be dangerous and requires careful management. You don’t want him running off with your clients or business.

MANAGING REMINGTON STEELE

Each situation is unique and requires its own careful brainstorming and analysis. However, there are some basic guidelines one can follow to reduce the likelihood of any Remingtons you employ walking away with your clients or business.

KEEP REMINGTON DEPENDENT ON YOU

From The 48 Laws of Power,

Law 11—Learn To Keep People Dependent On You. To maintain your independence you must always be needed and wanted. The more you are relied on, the more freedom you have. Make people depend on you for their happiness and prosperity and you have nothing to fear. Never teach them enough so that they can do without you.

The 48 Laws of Power, pg. 82 (emphasis added). The 48 Laws of Power author quotes from Machiavelli’s The Prince,

Thus a wise prince will think of ways to keep his citizens of every sort and under every circumstance dependent on the state and on him; and then they will be trustworthy.

The 48 Laws of Power, pg. 85. On the one hand, you need a Remington who knows enough about your field to be able to serve as the public face of your business. On the other hand, you need to make sure that Remington depends on you to do the actual work. How to square this circle? Answer: Have a Remington who is part of your same general field, but NOT skilled in your specific niche or subspecialty.

For example, let’s say that I’m a Black tax lawyer. I need a White Remington in order to get business, but I don’t want Remington to take my clients at some point in the future. So, I choose a Remington who is also an attorney—but one who does not have any experience in handling tax cases. If Remington ever starts learning how to do tax cases, then I need to start looking for another Remington. And get rid of the current Remington long before he gets up to speed in tax law.

Strive to maintain a situation where Remington needs you in particular more than you need him in particular. If Remington steals your clients, he’ll need someone with your specific skill set in order to service them properly. Remington needs someone with your level of skill, or he needs to acquire your level of skill. By contrast, you don’t need any specific, individual Remington. All you need is someone with a White face and matching name to serve as a Remington.

DON’T GIVE REMINGTON ANY KEYS TO YOUR KINGDOM

For example, DON’T add Remington’s name to the business. Putting somebody else’s name on your business makes it easier for that person—who is supposed to be an underling—to run off with your clients and business after you’ve done the hard work of getting it firmly established. It’d be as dangerous as a lawyer naming their law firm after a law clerk. Consider an overall neutral, non-personal name for your business, similar to how many investment management companies are named things like “The ____________ Group.” Pulling a name out of the air as an example—”The Capital Group.” This way, your business has a neutral, colorless name. And the name isn’t automatically giving the keys away to the Remington.

Use non-disclosure and non-competition contracts with Remington.

STAY ALERT AND AT THE TOP OF YOUR GAME

As the 48 Laws of Power author states,

You do not have to have the talent of a Michelangelo; you do have to have a skill that sets you apart from the crowd. You should create a situation in which you can always latch on to another master or patron but your master cannot easily find another servant with your particular talent.

. . . One last warning: Do not imagine that your master’s dependence on you will make him love you. In fact, he may resent and fear you. But as Machiavelli said, it is better to be feared than loved. Fear you can control; love, never. Depending on an emotion as subtle and changeable as love or friendship will only make you insecure. Better to have others depend on you out of fear of the consequences of losing you than out of love of your company.

The 48 Laws of Power, pgs. 86-87. This last part is essential. Remingtons often have a way of starting to believe that they are the true talents that create the firm’s success; even though somebody else is doing the actual work. You must keep your professional skills sharp, and far beyond anything any particular Remington can duplicate on his own or replace.

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60 Responses to “Managing Remington Steele”

  1. joyousnerd says:

    So THAT’s what that show was about! It was before my time, but I’d heard the expression before.

    That’s one beautiful thing about setting up online businesses… you can more often maintain the illusion of white ownership.

    I was actually thinking of using a virtual assistant to help me perpetrate a front; not a white one though. From where I’m sitting, nobody can resist an Asian chick. I have 2 candy machines that I want to place in local stores. Instead of coming in to ask the manager in person, I’ll have a Thai or Philippina virtual assistant call. The WM manager will be drooling all over himself at the prospect of having the chance to eyeball and flirt with an Asian broad during candy refills… and enthusiastically agree to place the machine, asking for less of a cut of the profits than usual.

    Then he sees the “employee” (me) coming and going but never gets to see the “boss” (my Asian assistant).

    I sound white on the phone, thank god, but I’m also really shy and reluctant to ask about placing the machines. So the V.A. helps me to avoid that painful task and I get to trade on her exotic sexual appeal, lol.

    In the future I hope to own a Goddard School type daycare. They get away with charging more than other daycare centers because they really have people convinced their 8 week old newborn is in SCHOOL! lmao. I want to be in that profitable niche, but seeing a black face running things will destroy the white parents’ perception of quality education. So I’ll need to hire a white woman to be my Remington Steele for that venture.

    I’ve thought of hiring an Amish girl to be my front and putting a very conservative Christian bent on things. When they see me coming and going, parents will think I’m there to scrub the toilet (SMDH) not to come collect their checks and deposit them in my account.

  2. joyousnerd says:

    I should have clarified why an Amish girl is my choice. For one thing they’re raised with zillions of siblings to watch, so they are already well trained. Because of their conservative culture, I won’t have to worry about them carrying on with DBRs when I’m not looking.

    Amish women may only work for a woman or for her own husband. They also have limited education, only up to 8th grade. This greatly restricts their career options. To be the Remington would be the most she could have ever hoped for. Plus, if she acts the fool, one word to her family will have her back milking cows before the week is out.

    As far as her stealing clients, I doubt she’d be able to get a lease for a building with no education and no credit.

    I feel a bit bad like I’m using someone for my own ends, but that’s capitalism. Use or be used.

  3. Oshun/Aphrodite says:

    Another great post Khadija! I have been thinking on some things and you have given me more food for thought.

    Re: car lot.
    They finally stole some keys last night and no one knows who did it, when, or how.

    • joyousnerd says:

      OMG! That’s awful news! I’m so sorry to hear that… I fear what will happen next… some firearms on the premises sound mandatory now. 🙁

      • Oshun/Aphrodite says:

        The economy is making people crazy. I stopped at a gas station and learned that the owner was robbed and beaten really badly a few days prior to my stop. Then I stopped at the same gas station yesterday – its on my way- and I think something had happened again. They had 2 police cars out front, the place was locked, all the lights turned out with cops walking around inside in the dark, a detective was pulling up…

  4. JoyousNerd,

    Yes, that’s what that tv show was about. {chuckling} Although, from my vague memories of it (I didn’t watch it regularly), the woman detective allowed “Remington” to have far too much control over what was happening. But then again, the show was a light romantic comedy.

    You said, “That’s one beautiful thing about setting up online businesses… you can more often maintain the illusion of white ownership.”

    That’s why, when asked, I encourage Black business owners to have online businesses.

    You said, “I was actually thinking of using a virtual assistant to help me perpetrate a front; not a white one though. From where I’m sitting, nobody can resist an Asian chick. I have 2 candy machines that I want to place in local stores. Instead of coming in to ask the manager in person, I’ll have a Thai or Philippina virtual assistant call. The WM manager will be drooling all over himself at the prospect of having the chance to eyeball and flirt with an Asian broad during candy refills… and enthusiastically agree to place the machine, asking for less of a cut of the profits than usual.”

    If the virtual assistant is only calling on the phone, how will the WM (or whoever) manager know that the woman is Asian? By their names? First, not everybody recognizes Thai names as Asian—there are a lot of folks who just don’t know what to make of those names. Second, keep in mind that most Filipinos have Spanish names—so if somebody is going by name only, they might assume the Fillipino person is Latino and not Asian.

    You said, “In the future I hope to own a Goddard School type daycare. They get away with charging more than other daycare centers because they really have people convinced their 8 week old newborn is in SCHOOL! lmao.”

    Oh, that is hilarious—I had never heard of such “schools.” Really now, there are people crazy enough to think a newborn infant can be “schooled”? {smh} Will (vanity-induced) wonders never cease?

    You said, “I want to be in that profitable niche, but seeing a black face running things will destroy the white parents’ perception of quality education. So I’ll need to hire a white woman to be my Remington Steele for that venture.”

    This is the unfortunate reality of such things. Instead of endlessly moaning about it (which is our informal cultural tradition), we should seek ways to work around those perceptions, and profit anyway.

    You said, “I’ve thought of hiring an Amish girl to be my front and putting a very conservative Christian bent on things. When they see me coming and going, parents will think I’m there to scrub the toilet (SMDH) not to come collect their checks and deposit them in my account.”

    Hyping the Christian angle is a good idea. Folks love that sort of thing—it makes them all warm and fuzzy inside about having their children there.

    You said, “I should have clarified why an Amish girl is my choice….Amish women may only work for a woman or for her own husband. They also have limited education, only up to 8th grade. This greatly restricts their career options. To be the Remington would be the most she could have ever hoped for. Plus, if she acts the fool, one word to her family will have her back milking cows before the week is out.

    As far as her stealing clients, I doubt she’d be able to get a lease for a building with no education and no credit.”

    This sounds good on paper, however I do have a question: Have any Amish folk ever worked for a Black person? From what I’ve read, they stay pretty much aloof from outsiders—“the English” as they apparently refer to all non-Amish. But I would figure that they probably have their own internal ranking of contact with various types of “English.” Is it a reasonable expectation to think that one of them might be willing to knowingly work for a Black person? I don’t know the answers to these questions, I’m just putting them out there for thought and brainstorming.

    You said, “I feel a bit bad like I’m using someone for my own ends, but that’s capitalism. Use or be used.”

    No, no, no—I personally don’t consider that “using someone.” It’s an exchange of value for value. After all, YOU would be providing that type of woman with a gateway to the outer world. I used to think the Amish were cute and cool. That was before I read up on them and found out about their “no education past 8th grade” policy. Basically, they force their children to remain ignorant so they’ll be trapped living within that sect. That’s NOT cute or cool.
    _________________________________________

    Oshun/Aphrodite,

    Thank you for your kind words about the post; I truly appreciate it.

    Re: the car lot: Lord have mercy.

    Expect Success!

    • joyousnerd says:

      Re: the virtual assistant- The WM manager would hear her “sexy” accent over the telephone was the idea. He would mentally fill in the blanks of her being a hot little number and then hopefully sign on the dotted line eagerly. Maybe it won’t work, but I thought it was a good idea. What does it cost me to try; $5? It’s worth it to me, even if it fails.

      The Amish have much less negative view of Black “Englisch” since they don’t consume media images that portray us all as oversexed animals or thieves. They have limited exposure to us, but the blacks they have been exposed to are not the ABC type. Those they have seen are more likely the decent normal AA people who shop at their furniture, quilt and produce shops.

      I have extended family that lives in a blended Amish/Englisch community in rural Ohio. The Great Recession has hit the Amish HARD and they will and do put their kids out to work. I could find an Amish girl or two through them.

      Lots of people, especially white folks, are downright obsessed with the Amish, especially around my area (central NJ, between NYC and Philly). The WW who have to work and need daycare could feel warm and fuzzy indeed about the traditional family values their kid is learning from the Amish… and pay handsomely for the privilege. Little do they know… lol

      • JoyousNerd,

        Thanks for the detailed info about the Amish and the sort of Black folks they’re exposed to. That’s fascinating and good to know.

        You said, “Lots of people, especially white folks, are downright obsessed with the Amish, especially around my area (central NJ, between NYC and Philly). The WW who have to work and need daycare could feel warm and fuzzy indeed about the traditional family values their kid is learning from the Amish… and pay handsomely for the privilege. Little do they know… lol”

        I like the way you think! {chuckling}

        Expect Success!

      • Amish romances are one of the hottest romance genres right now. I might have some (under a nom de plume, of course!)

        • Roslyn,

          Who knew the Amish were considered hot? {chuckling}

          Expect Success!

        • Joyousnerd says:

          Roslyn I can believe it! I have every Carrie Bender book, and I love romances. I would totally buy an Amish romance… *especially* if you wrote it.

          Off Like a Prom Dress was so hot! You managed to fit some seriously perverse things (and I mean that nicely lol) into a sweet and inspiring story without being hokey. That’s a fine line to toe but you did it flawlessly.

          That’s one key to success, according to Tim Ferriss (of 4-hour workweek fame); finding and filling niches.

          • JoyousNerd,

            Please check your email’s spam filter (if you haven’t already done so—you know what I’m talking about :-))

            Expect Success!

          • Thanks ever so much. I must say it’s been very successful for me. I’m just so grateful to have found something I enjoy doing and that allows me to stay at home with my family. Again, I’m so glad you enjoyed that book. I had fun researching it.

  5. ak says:

    Khadija:

    On the one hand, you need a Remington who knows enough about your field to be able to serve as the public face of your business. On the other hand, you need to make sure that Remington depends on you to do the actual work. How to square this circle? Answer: Have a Remington who is part of your same general field, but NOT skilled in your specific niche or subspecialty.

    For example, let’s say that I’m a Black tax lawyer. I need a White Remington in order to get business, but I don’t want Remington to take my clients at some point in the future. So, I choose a Remington who is also an attorney—but one who does not have any experience in handling tax cases. If Remington ever starts learning how to do tax cases, then I need to start looking for another Remington. And get rid of the current Remington long before he gets up to speed in tax law.

    Thank you for elaborating on the point you made in the previous post. But for me personally I’m wondering if the above would work for an accountant. But now that I’ve done further research, are you saying that if I am a CPA for example that I should get a white auditor or white management accountant to be my ‘face’?

    I thought that this might be tricky for me only because it seems like when you are learning Accounting in a university, it seems to me that they teach you every aspect of it, especially as it’s so universal. Do you see what I mean? Would my ‘face”s knowledge really be that ‘specialized’ and that different from mine were I to follow through with this Remington deal for my own compnay? That’s what I want to know. Maybe I could use a white financial planner, asset manager, or portfolio manager?…*shrugs shoulders* I don’t know.

    And yeah, once you’ve gotten white Remington to sign a contract between you two about what the real deal is and what their role is in this, how do you set up the contract so that you can let them go when you have to, in order to get another white Remington? *screams* LOL 😉

    Gosh wasn’t, or isn’t Pierce Brosnan beautiful? He was the real 007 to me, especially after Sean Connery.

    If blacks would support each other in business regardless of what others do, or don’t do with them, I wouldn’t have to deal with this! *end of rant* 😉 LOL

  6. ak says:

    Regarding what I said before, maybe I should find a Remington in public finance? (Maybe I should find a handsome and intelligent white Remington, marry him, and breathe a sigh of relief? LOL 😉 although should a divorce ensue, things could get messy yet again…darn…)

    • ann says:

      To ak,
      Talk to a lawyer about your business plans before you marry, men do this all the time. You can still marry your Remington. Robin Thick’s wife says sometimes when a repair person is giving her a hard time she calls in the “white guy”,Robin and he handles everything and she does the same for him, now that is cooperation.

      Yes, that character Remington had too much control. Always keep an eye on your own business, Oprah does that and she is not shy about reminding people she employ that she owns the company. Gail her bff said something to that effect this week. Oprah is right besides people know she is the owner but, most of her employees are non-blk. Keep in mind Famous Amos and how he lost his million dollar business.

      • ak says:

        Thanks there Ann. I read that link, and yes that is really bad, but I admire Amos’s tenacitty at least at the end of it he was willing to get back on the horse and try it again.

        Even the famous and deservedly lengendary designer Roy Halston Frowick, better known as Halston who was THE designer of the disco 70s with the exception of possibly YSL, was stopped from using his own name to design all the many pieces of clothing he was designing for many companies including his own because of some corporate takeover and they stopped him from using his own name Halston when he designed his clothes after that, I guess only the new parent company of the subsidiary he worked for could use the Halston name. Same thing.

        But sadly Halston died of AIDS so soon after that anyway.

    • Ann,

      Since I don’t know what happened to Famous Amos, I looked him up online. What I’ve found so far isn’t a happy story. {shaking my head}

      Link to a 1999 NYT article. http://www.nytimes.com/1999/07/03/business/famous-cookie-face-match-wally-amos-got-his-hand-his-name-back-game.html?pagewanted=1

      Expect Success!

      • ann says:

        Yes, that was a sad story. While he and the wife was over doing it in Hawaii his business partners stole his million dollar business.

        Always keep your eyes on your business and always sign your own checks.

  7. Aisha says:

    I love this post! I was thinking that perhaps a retired individual would make a good Remington for a professional business. That alone could cut down on worries about competition. In addition, the person would be gaining some side income that they probably weren’t counting on. It could be a win-win situation.

    • Aisha,

      Thank you for your kind words about the post; I truly appreciate it.

      You said, “I was thinking that perhaps a retired individual would make a good Remington for a professional business. That alone could cut down on worries about competition. In addition, the person would be gaining some side income that they probably weren’t counting on. It could be a win-win situation.”

      Now, that’s an OUTSTANDING idea that never occurred to me! Thanks so much for sharing it! I love these brainstorming sessions! 🙂

      Expect Success!

    • ak says:

      I agree with Khadija, thanks Aisha. I didn’t even think of a retiree to be my ‘face’ at all either! Hmmm…

      • Aisha says:

        No, thanks to you guys for all this brainstorming. I almost didn’t post that idea because I haven’t really thought it out. But I suppose that’s what a think tank is for!

        • ann says:

          Retirees are a great idea and most would welcome getting out of the house and into the work world. Many companies believe older people are more reliable and are a wealth of knowledge.

          • Truth P. says:

            That was a really good idea.I hear that alot of companies hire retirees because they are so reliable.

            What about college students?I’m just saying this because I have witnessed companies hire very intelligent college students part time to do their “lite work”.Many of these students are willing to work for smaller pay just to gain some experience in different areas.I’ve seen companies have people who are not qualified for a certain position for no other reason than they don’t have a degree yet.But these individuals seem to be very good for their bottom line and help to get the job done.I have even seen companies pass up hiring people with degrees and get students/intern for next to nothing to do the same job.

            A downside could be that these folks are like sponges and are trying to gain as much info as they possibly can but i’d think if you took the same precautions to guard your business with the student worker as with the retiree you’d be fine?

            sidenote:I really don’t know much about business I am just stating some of my own observations.

  8. AK,

    I can’t answer your questions about your field. There are nuances to every field that would have to be weighed when deciding which type of Remington would probablly work out best. I’m only familiar with the nuances in my own profession.

    You said, “If blacks would support each other in business regardless of what others do, or don’t do with them, I wouldn’t have to deal with this! *end of rant* LOL”

    True, but since we know Blacks will NEVER give up Crabs In A Barrel-ism, then we must move forward without the vast majority of them.

    About Pierce Brosnan: Yes, he was/is pretty, but much too skinny to be a plausible James Bond. I did enjoy his work in the remake of “The Thomas Crown Affair.” 🙂

    Expect Success!

    • ak says:

      Hmmmm….maybe I should just find a retired accountant, financial planner, or banker or whoever to be my ‘face’ then. It’s too early in the game to see what the nuances will be for me right now, I’ll just have to be on the look out for this much later on.

      I adore skinny, pretty men! LOL LOL But yeah Daniel Craig has a great body but his face is ARRGH *screams* LOL 😉

    • Zoopath says:

      I loved him both as Bond and especially as Thomas Crown….Daniel Craig does absolutely nothing for me.

  9. ak says:

    Wow Khadija I tried to find out how to set up what we’re discussing through Google but what automatically comes up are shades of ‘Goodfellas’ with the mafia/organized crime/money laundering (Am I hear to AMUSE YOU??) LOL

    I’m not looking for a ‘Soprano’ situation I must say, ha ha! I remember there was or is a small used bookshop that also sold inflammatory and trouble-making books such as ‘The Anarchist Cookbook’ as well as books that teach you how to be a con man and other such crazy things. I wonder if they had a book based on how to set up a ‘face’ person for your business without getting yourself messed over?

    • AK,

      {smile} With money and business-related things, there’s always at least 2 versions. The suave and legitimate version. And the street, quasi-criminal version. The suave and legitimate versions of things almost never use blunt descriptions or blunt language—they almost always use euphemisms or bland-sounding words.

      Often, the suave version pretends that certain unpleasant realities don’t exist. Each field has important details that are almost never in the text books for that field—things you have to learn through experience. For example, I don’t recall seeing any law school books that discussed how to work at somebody else’s firm as an associate, and quit to start your own firm while taking half of your former employers’ clients with you. This is extremely UN-cool behavior, but it happens quite frequently in the real world. This frequent real-world behavior is not mentioned in most of the typical books written for lawyers (which tend to focus on the mechanics of sharpening one’s professional skills).

      Only the street, quasi-criminal versions of things use blunt, direct language to describe what they want and what they’re doing.

      In the context of this conversation topic, a legitimate business is never looking for “a front person.” Only criminals (such as money-launderers) need “fronts.” Legitimate businesses use job titles such as “consultant,” “sales representative,” and so on. Legitimate businesses use bland, normal job titles and then describe the duties attached to that title in a way that works for that particular business’ needs.

      This is why the job duties of a “consultant” or “sales representative” at one firm might by totally different from the duties of a “consultant” or “sales representative” at another firm.

      In short, I doubt that there’s anything straightforward, blunt and to the point written about these matters. At best, there might be some books for small business owners about the nuances of hiring contractors. But probably nothing that directly addresses what we’re talking about. I would suggest that you begin your research with materials that discuss real world examples of noncompetition and nondisclosure agreements and why they’re necessary in certain situations. While researching backwards from there, you might run across something that’s helpful.

      The bottom line is that I doubt there’s a textbook or any other book written that directly covers the acquisition, care, and handling of Remingtons. If you find one, please let me know! 🙂

      Expect Success!

  10. joyousnerd says:

    I just wanted to say I’m happy this discussion focused on actual useful strategies for using Remingtons. I had feared we would devolve into the standard moaning and gnashing of teeth about why we should not need a white face. Some folks still think we should dismantle the white power structure worldwide first, and only then try to make money. It’s almost funny, but really that train of thought is sad and fruitless.

    While I was perusing virtual assistant profiles online, I saw that many Indian and Pakistani VA firms used stock photos of white people as their avatars! Virtual Remingtons, lol! They GET IT… hopefully more AAs will start to get it too.

  11. JoyousNerd,

    You said, “I just wanted to say I’m happy this discussion focused on actual useful strategies for using Remingtons.”

    I’m very focused on practical questions when it comes to money. LOL!

    You said, “I had feared we would devolve into the standard moaning and gnashing of teeth about why we should not need a white face.”

    I don’t have time for that; and I figure that interested, ACTIVE readers don’t have time for that either. Time is money.

    You said, “Some folks still think we should dismantle the white power structure worldwide first, and only then try to make money. It’s almost funny, but really that train of thought is sad and fruitless.”

    It is sad; and a reflection of how we’ve been programmed to collectively self-destruct. Our Crabs In A Barrel-ism is a direct product of divide and conquer slave-making/slave-breaking techniques. Our fixation on otherworldly, “I Have A Dream” fantasies is a product of how most of our past leadership framed various issues.

    Another bit of what Elijah Muhammad called tricknology is the mostly unquestioned notion that “Black people must ‘come together’ FIRST, and THEN we can do X,Y,Z.” It’s like folks think we can’t make money or enjoy other manifestations of abundance until after we have some mystical, officially declared “coming together” experience. Well, wasn’t the Million Man March an official, mass “coming together”? I say thanks, but no thanks to all of those emotion-based verbal statements of coming together. I much prefer people that can help me brainstorm various actionable, tangible ideas.

    Somehow, it never occurs to the “come together first” Black folks that the way we, in fact, “come together” IS by reasoning, brainstorming, and working our various abundant life plans together. In this context, brainstorming how we can each apply various income stream development techniques IS “coming together.” Talking about coming together doesn’t mean much of anything. One by one, people have to live and do “coming together” sorts of actions in their everyday lives.

    You said, “While I was perusing virtual assistant profiles online, I saw that many Indian and Pakistani VA firms used stock photos of white people as their avatars! Virtual Remingtons, lol! They GET IT… hopefully more AAs will start to get it too.”

    Oh yeah, other people are definitely on point when it comes to making money. I also hope that more AAs will wake up and smell the coffee.

    Expect Success!

  12. LaJane Galt says:

    I love these business posts! Consider not only retirees, but 50+ workers who are not going to be hired again.

    A couple of people have expressed regret about not targeting AA consumers. Remember: a business is designed to line your pockets. All that matters is the green that comes in. The aggregate community benefit is ancillary.

    My job often involves small businesses. Neutral naming is the way to go. Do not use a surname or amalgamation of kids’ names.

  13. Karen R. says:

    Excellent post. I think my post got deleted due to my error, so here goes again! 😉
    I like the idea of business owner’s egos not being tied up in being seen as the Big Boss such as the plumber-owner who acted as if he were just an employee. At the end of the day, it is about advancing one’s business.
    I have been taught that we should: pick a niche, become the expert, and let everyone know about it. Ideally we should pick a niche that solves a problem because people will pay big $$$ for a solution to their problem and not so much for prevention. We see this in the proliferation of dialysis centers in the ‘hood. Not to be too simplistic, but I am sure it is easier in the long run to eat well, exercise, etc, than to be on dialysis and endure the exhaustion, high cost, lifestyle interruption that is involved.

    • KarenR.,

      Thank you for your kind words about the post; I truly appreciate it.

      You said, “I like the idea of business owner’s egos not being tied up in being seen as the Big Boss such as the plumber-owner who acted as if he were just an employee. At the end of the day, it is about advancing one’s business.”

      I agree.

      You said, “I have been taught that we should: pick a niche, become the expert, and let everyone know about it. Ideally we should pick a niche that solves a problem because people will pay big $$$ for a solution to their problem and not so much for prevention.”

      This is an unfortunate human behavior pattern, but true—people aren’t as emotionally aroused by prevention as they are after a preventable problem has manifested. And an emotionally around (=”desperate”) customer is more likely to buy than an indifferent one.

      Expect Success!

  14. Joyousnerd says:

    Khadija: I think I’ve fixed the spam folder issue now.

    Truth P: You make a great point about college students. They are smart and creative, which is why many companies prefer to hire them for a shoestring salary and wring every drop out of them. The potentials of hiring one are that they are very hungry, meaning they have motivation to steal your clients. They are also inexperienced which means the errors they make will be on your dime and your time. Plus we cannot forget the cockiness of youth. They are more willing to take risks that could blow up in the owner’s face.

    The retiree or 50 year old worker doesn’t usually think they are going to be the next Steve Jobs, they just want some money to pay the bills and keep the wolf from the door. So it’s easier to prevent a person who is not as ambitious from stealing clients.

    The downside of an older person is that they are actually much more likely to commit embezzlement and other white collar crimes! I learned this in my undergraduate studies of criminology. Employers are always putting the young kids under the microscope while the middle aged middle manager is stealing everything that isn’t nailed down to pay off his pregnant mistress or finance his wife’s out of control gambling debts.

    Every kind of Remington has their plusses and minuses, but no matter who they are, the owner has got to keep a close eye on them and keep the keys to the kingdom on lock.

    • Oshun/Aphrodite says:

      “The downside of an older person is that they are actually much more likely to commit embezzlement and other white collar crimes! I learned this in my undergraduate studies of criminology. Employers are always putting the young kids under the microscope while the middle aged middle manager is stealing everything that isn’t nailed down to pay off his pregnant mistress or finance his wife’s out of control gambling debts. ”

      What? Wow!

  15. Nathalie says:

    I appreciate these business and lifestyle design posts- really great resources. I have a family member who does the Remington thing. I have noticed the following:

    1.) Remington does not have the same credentialing as the black owner (i.e.; if owner is a CPA/accountant, Remington is not)

    2.) There is more than one Remington! i.e.; Remington Admin Assistant, Remington Marketing Director; Remington Sales Consultant, etc.. the public/clients hear, see, interact with Remingtons.

    3.) The Remingtons’ roles are complimentary and dependent on ..i’ll call this person Morpheus..dependent on Morpheus. Remington NEEDS Morpheus. Remington doesn’t have the licensure to do what Morpheus does, and Remington is happy to have Morpheus “hunt the big game” and bring it back to the office for all of the Remingtons to work with their respective complimentary skill sets, because this is feeding Remingtons/ their families.

    Remingtons are there because they are excellent at what they do and they actually want to work in those positions- they aren’t particularly interested in pursuing Morpheus’ credentials which they need to do what Morpheus does, or being “hunter/managers” which is part of what a Morpheus does. By the same token, it never seems to occur to many Remingtons that Morpheus has chosen them for anything other than their merits.

    4.) Remingtons have signed legally binding non-compete and non-disclosure contracts. If they try to take Morpheus’ clients, intellectual property or business, or replicate it within x years and x miles..they will be hit with a lawsuit so fast a Remington’s head will spin off. I just watched a different “Morpheus” I know sue his departed Remington for violation of his non-compete and non-disclosure contracts (Remington was stealing clients and set up shop in town. In this case, Morpheus is an owner and hires licensed Remingtons to practice/service clients that Morpheus acquires-Morpheus doesn’t practice). Remington had to pay Morpheus tens of thousands of dollars and was slapped on the wrist by the state licensing body for a breach of ethics. I think Remington, who is white, was truly shocked to see the legal system come down on him and had expected to get over on brown Morpheus.

    Just a few of my observations!

    • Nathalie,

      Thank you for your kind words about the business posts; I truly appreciate it.

      You said, “Just a few of my observations!”

      THANK YOU for sharing your real-world observations! The details that you’re mentioning help demonstrate how the AA frogs in a boiling pot and/or crabs in a barrel are out of touch with the reality that’s happening all around them. These AA frogs/crabs are the ones who constantly tell other AAs that these income stream conversations “aren’t ‘feasible’ or ‘realistic.'”

      Meanwhile, there are people quietly moving forward and doing all these “not feasible” and “unrealistic” things. You (and other readers) sharing your observations helps to break down this knee-jerk assumption that so many AAs have that everything must be “impossible” for them. Again, thank you!

      You said, “I have a family member who does the Remington thing. I have noticed the following:

      1.) Remington does not have the same credentialing as the black owner (i.e.; if owner is a CPA/accountant, Remington is not)

      This is a critical point that works to Morpheus’ advantage.

      You said, “2.) There is more than one Remington! i.e.; Remington Admin Assistant, Remington Marketing Director; Remington Sales Consultant, etc.. the public/clients hear, see, interact with Remingtons.”

      Wow! {deep martial arts bow to your Morpheus relative} I’m impressed! It takes some serious skillz to manage multiple Remingtons.

      You said, “3.) The Remingtons’ roles are complimentary and dependent on ..i’ll call this person Morpheus..dependent on Morpheus. Remington NEEDS Morpheus. Remington doesn’t have the licensure to do what Morpheus does, and Remington is happy to have Morpheus “hunt the big game” and bring it back to the office for all of the Remingtons to work with their respective complimentary skill sets, because this is feeding Remingtons/ their families.”

      Very shrewd of Morpheus.

      You said, “By the same token, it never seems to occur to many Remingtons that Morpheus has chosen them for anything other than their merits.”

      Again, very shrewd. This is why—in most situations, there are some exceptions—it’s best NOT to let any Remington know that you’re hiring them to be a White “front” face. Remington generally doesn’t need to know that. Knowing that you need a White front face gives Remington unnecessary additional leverage in the situation (at least in his own mind). It’s better for Remington to think that you only hired him for his skills—not that you need him for some other purpose (a White face to show to customers).

      You said, “4.) Remingtons have signed legally binding non-compete and non-disclosure contracts. If they try to take Morpheus’ clients, intellectual property or business, or replicate it within x years and x miles..they will be hit with a lawsuit so fast a Remington’s head will spin off.”

      These non-compete and non-disclosure contracts are essential.

      You said, ” I just watched a different “Morpheus” I know sue his departed Remington for violation of his non-compete and non-disclosure contracts (Remington was stealing clients and set up shop in town. In this case, Morpheus is an owner and hires licensed Remingtons to practice/service clients that Morpheus acquires-Morpheus doesn’t practice). Remington had to pay Morpheus tens of thousands of dollars and was slapped on the wrist by the state licensing body for a breach of ethics. I think Remington, who is white, was truly shocked to see the legal system come down on him and had expected to get over on brown Morpheus.”

      Oh yeah, I’m sure that particular Remington didn’t expect that sort of reaction from the mostly White, male judiciary. Since most AAs only see and think of the court system from the perspective of criminal defendants, let me mention something about how many lawyers/judges think. I said the following comments about my personal motivations for doing defense work during an earlier conversation,

      It’s more a matter of being committed to the following idea: Each society can have either 1 of 2 ways of dealing with disputes, crimes, and disturbances.

      1-A society can have a reasonably orderly PROCESS that tries to safeguard rights for everybody—including foul people who deserve to have their a**es beat (or worse); OR

      2-A society can have various types of TOTALLY arbitrary and capricious lynch mobs, including lynch mobs that masquerade as courts. Such as military courts where a soldier decides the fates of civilians. Such as the fake courts that operate in dictatorships. Such as the fake courts in the South during Jim Crow. Such as the fake courts during the apartheid regime in South Africa.

      And then there’s the traditional, straight-up, no pretense, “the funk-uncut” lynch mob where private citizens/vigilantes act as judge, jury and executioners. Vigilante/death squad “justice” is only okay for those who are the vigilantes/death squad members. It’s okay for those who get to pick who dies; but it’s not okay for everybody else. And “everybody else” is usually composed of the weaker members of a society.

      Realistically, there’s no in-between position. Without an orderly process that more or less works the same for everybody—including the people who don’t deserve any consideration whatsoever—any society quickly descends into lynch-mob methods of resolving all issues and disputes.

      I prefer to have an orderly, semi-fair PROCESS in place. And I’m willing to help safeguard the continued existence of that semi-fair process by doing what I can to ensure that each defendant’s rights are honored by those in power such as prosecutors and judges. For me, defense work has never really been about the clients. I’m more interested in protecting the existence of an orderly, semi-fair process.

      What that White Remington didn’t understand is that many White, male, Republican, rich—AND racist—judges have similar feelings about the importance of having an orderly process. Various players in the court system are willing to humor and entertain certain injustices when there was never any binding contract, or when the contract contained ambiguities that create wiggle room. So, if a person is naive enough to not put contracts in place to protect their own interests, the court system often responds with indifference to that person’s plight.

      But when somebody—in the above case, that particular White Remington—decides to be BRAZEN in their breach of valid contracts, the court system often interprets that behavior as a middle finger being thrown in its face. At that point, it’s not even about the Black Morpheus plaintiff. It becomes about asserting the power and authority of the court system to ENFORCE compliance with its laws.

      If Remington is allowed to brazenly IGNORE a valid contract, then there effectively are no laws and there is no process. This is the wrong answer as far as many lawyers and judges are concerned. Including rich, White, racist ones. And so, the wrath of the court system will often come down on the heads of people—including White people—who assume they’ll be allowed to casually blow off their contracts.

      Expect Success!

      • ak says:

        Yeah you made two good points there Khadija. I wouldn’t broadcast to a white Remington anyway that ‘I need a white Remington’ and that ‘I’m looking for white Remingtons (only)’. I’m sure they could turn around and say I used discriminatory practices no different from Miami and its ‘Native Spanish Speaker’ overt bias in employment.

        With judges that may be white or whatever and racist yeah, if one person whether they’re white or not gets to blow off one contract, then they could go on to anybody else and do the same and try to wiggle out of a contract, so yes they have to draw the line before the whole country starts saying ‘contract, schmontract I can walk away’.

  16. Anne1 says:

    Wow, the show’s photo took me way back! I hardly watch TV now so this was a fun flashback. Aisha is on the right track about tapping into retirees. Although the SBA can be a pitiful source for financing a business (at least from my personal experience) the ONE good thing they offer is the SCORE program. It’s run by retired business men and women who were successful, made millions for their respective companies, who now love giving back. I for one have benefited from the wealth of information they graciously share, all for free. A good consultant would have cost my start-up (any start-up) a small fortune, but I happily avoided that expense with my free counselors. Let me tell you, I milk them for all they are willing give –and it is plenty. One of my millionaire-retirees even agreed to be included in my business plan as my company’s business consultant, which lent instant credibility because of his 40 years of business experience with photo plastered all over my website gets mileage too. For the time investment of sending an email communication, my company is finally getting the traction needed to get off the ground. This decision alone garnered more attention from investors in one month than I could garner on my own in the six months since inception (sigh). To keep it in the family, I gave myself a new unimposing title and promoted my White son-in-law to the role of president. Now he is the company’s face, a change I made after reading this post. Bottom line, the decision to use a straw-man + reading this blog = Priceless. Thanks for another great post, Khadija.

    • Anne1,

      Thank you for your kind words about the post; I truly appreciate it.

      Also, THANK YOU for sharing your real-world observations! The details that you’re mentioning help demonstrate how the AA frogs in a boiling pot and/or crabs in a barrel are out of touch with the reality that’s happening all around them. These AA frogs/crabs are the ones who constantly tell other AAs that these income stream conversations “aren’t ‘feasible’ or ‘realistic.'”

      Meanwhile, there are people quietly moving forward and doing all these “not feasible” and “unrealistic” things. You (and other readers) sharing your observations helps to break down this knee-jerk assumption that so many AAs have that everything must be “impossible” for them. Again, thank you!

      I’m delighted to hear that your experience with the retirees worked out so well—that’s wonderful news! 🙂

      *Addendum*
      I love your site, especially the part that mentioned,

      To succeed in your own business you must be driven, and possess AMBITION BEYOND SURVIVAL!

      That’s what I want to hear about! LOL! Not any more of this “we be struggling” talk. Also, thank you for being so kind as to give this blog a shout-out as a personal development resource. I’m honored. {blushing}

      Expect Success!

      • Anne1 says:

        There’s way too much negative information for us, and I (and others here) must choose to NOT participate in it (including this so-called recession).

        For months I would write my ideas in a journal with plans to publish someday, well as you’ve been telling us someday NEVER come. So I forced myself to start publishing…something, anything…and then just tweak it to death, LOL. This is my small way of contributing, by encouraging myself and others to take flight now and stop putting plans off for tomorrow.

        I’m not the greatest writer (still having to translate Spanish thoughts into English words) and it’s still a work in progress so I appreciate your compliment.

        Thank you again, and PLEASE keep up the good work. Your blog should be required reading for all BW young and old, period!

  17. joyousnerd says:

    Oshun/Aphrodite, you said:
    “I stopped at a gas station and learned that the owner was robbed and beaten really badly a few days prior to my stop. Then I stopped at the same gas station yesterday – its on my way- and I think something had happened again.”

    I say: I think you need a change of scenery, miss lady! We don’t want you getting caught up in anything dangerous, and that gas station sounds like it’s officially off the roster of safe places to fill up. I know you have good sense, I’m just saying this “out loud” for the lurkers who may not connect the dots on their own…

    And, YES, older people are acting up but nobody is watching them like they are the young people. In a worker’s youth they still harbor dreams of making it big, but by middle age many have given hope on legitimate success. Leaving the temptation of illegitimate success bright as day.

    **********************

    LaJane Galt, You said: “Do not use a surname or amalgamation of kids’ names.”

    I say: You are SO correct there. I remember seeing a WW inventor on Oprah who had a great product that I might have bought. She had named it some blend of her 3 kids names. Now I get that she adores her kids; I’m a mom too. However, even her own co-workers probably can’t remember all 3 kids names, let alone the specific way she blended them together. How is a customer supposed to remember in order to find the product???

    ******************

    Anne1, thanks so much for sharing your experience with SCORE. I have been going back and forth about turning to SCORE for help with launching a business. The thing is, I (like many ambitious and smart AA people) have had some downright horrid experience with people who supposedly were there to help launch my bright future. High school guidance counselors for instance. I know many AA women who have had similar experiences. So my fear is that I’ll get some mentor who deep down really WANTS me to fail, and who will sabotage me knowingly or subconsciously.

    Of course I wouldn’t be likely to get the same mentor with SCORE as you did, but I am considering contacting them. I have been reading through the many useful articles on the SCORE website this week; there’s so much wonderful info for free. I don’t know if I’ll end up reaching out or not… but I am thinking about doing so.

    • ann says:

      You will never know if you don’t try. I am sure you can always get a new mentor if one doesn’t work out. I would suggest not giving out too much of your “prized” ideas.

    • Anne1 says:

      Joyousnerd, you don’t have to stay with the same SCORE counselor now. They used to assign them years ago but now you can search, find, and communicate with counselors online based on your criteria. Take flight and don’t let anything or anyone stop your plans.

      • ann says:

        LOL, I think Anne1 is my alter ego. I liked your blog. Keep up the good work.

        • Anne1 says:

          Ann, wow this is a nice surprise! Thank you so much for the encouragement. Really, you made my day. Lordy it’s a lot of work but this makes it worth it. Sometimes it takes me a long time to de-scramble and re-work ideas so I never know how my work will be received. One of my cousins still pronounces Wednesday as when-NES-day, and my sister can not say tarantula the American way, because it’s spelled the same way in Spanish, LOL. After 35 years I still have trouble with certain words which I’m not revealing (smile). I may include some Spanish on my blog but I . Okay, this is wonderful news, thanks again for the compliment. It does wonders. You, and Khadija (our gracious host) are angels in disguise.

  18. J.L Harris says:

    Thanks for this posting.

    I had participated in meeting with a group of black women in my hometown who were working on starting businesses. I argued that one should not label their business as “women-owned” or “minority-owned” just to get govt. contracts. I thought that it was limiting.

    There was a book written by Reginald Lewis called “Why Should White Guys Have All The Fun” many years ago. In it, he mentioned he had unsuccessful bids to buy 2 businesses but became successful when buying his biggest one: Singer (a sewing company). He pretended to be representing a caucasian buyer (when in reality he was the buyer). All those people did not know until he showed up to sign the papers. Consequently, I used a variant of this tactic to buy my first house.

    I remember an old African schoolmate used this thinking to get his accounting business started. “It is not that I am ashamed” he said. “It is just that I know this is what I have to do. By the time they find out, I already have the trade”. He’s a millionaire now.

    The product I am working on is a web-based application. Admittedly, I was a little disheartened when seeing this article because the service I wanted to provide was to help the black communities. Currently, they are being exploited by caucasian intrests.

    During the development process, I worked with men all over the world who assume (based on technical online chats) that I am male like them. They are always addressing me as “him”/”he”/”sir”, etc. LOL! It has also proven to be a lesson in the management of people.

    I had presented my ideas (while still in development) to a small black organization. I was seeking advice on how to best market the product. The CEO thought it was a “wonderful idea”, “timely” and wanted me to use them as a beta site.

    It has taken a LONG time for development (mostly due to my need for micro-managing and dipping into areas that were not my strength) but I felt through the *many* synchronicities I have encountered, God wants me to complete this. I am making a sprint to the finish line 😀

    My intuition was confirmed in this article. I still thought I could make my best contribution by helping this black organization gain a competitive advantage in the market (right now they have none) while helping the community as a whole.

    Based on this article, the solution is not to market to the people but market to folks that have access to the people.

    • J.L.Harris,

      You’re welcome!

      That’s a yucky story you mention below about the person you met with about your business idea. I’m happy you didn’t give “Gollum” an opportunity to swipe your ideas!

      Best wishes with your sprint to the finish line—I look forward to hearing about your victory! 🙂

      Expect Success!

    • ak says:

      JLHarris:

      There was a book written by Reginald Lewis called “Why Should White Guys Have All The Fun” many years ago. In it, he mentioned he had unsuccessful bids to buy 2 businesses but became successful when buying his biggest one: Singer (a sewing company). He pretended to be representing a caucasian buyer (when in reality he was the buyer). All those people did not know until he showed up to sign the papers. Consequently, I used a variant of this tactic to buy my first house.

      I remember an old African schoolmate used this thinking to get his accounting business started. “It is not that I am ashamed” he said. “It is just that I know this is what I have to do. By the time they find out, I already have the trade”. He’s a millionaire now.

      Yeah I’ve heard of that book and that’s really great news about your friend. Good for him!

  19. J.L Harris says:

    Regarding SCORE two of my siblings went to SCORE agents and said that the agent tried to discourage them from doing their business ideas.

    My siblings came up with their respective ideas because they had been working “in the trenches” and could see the issues that needed to be addressed. The SCORE agent (never working in the industry) could not appreciate/consider what they had to offer.

    I went about 15 years ago (when the internet was starting up) and met with a person about an idea. While sitting with him, I pulled out a sheet of paper with a sketch of the idea. Out of habit, I began reviewing the paper to be sure things were in order.

    I looked up to see him reaching for my paper (the way Gollum reaches for “The Ring”) – obviously eager to see what was on it and hear my idea.

    Needless to say, I pretty much said nothing.

    I think that they are good for some other folks but unfortunately not for me as I am in the IT industry. It is the tech-savvy folks who move ahead (think Obama when he raised money for his campaign using e-mail, text, internet, etc.).

  20. ***Note to Readers***

    In making this new site the kind of project that’s sustainable for me over the long-run, I’ve had to streamline how I handle certain things. The comments section is one of them. What this means is that I’ll give substantive responses to those folks who enter the conversations early (as I did across the board at the previous blog).

    After each post is a couple of days old, I’ll generally continue to publish new comments from readers. (That meet the commenting guidelines as set forth at the previous blog—those who are unfamiliar can read the comment “box” at the previous blog.)

    But, after a each post is a couple of days old, I generally WON’T continue responding to new comments.

    In other words, I’ll continue to publish comments to this post, but I’m not going to reply to any more comments in this thread. FYI. Please feel free to talk among yourselves!

    Expect Success!

  21. FoxyCleopatra says:

    @ LaJane Galt,

    LaJane Galt, You said: “Do not use a surname or amalgamation of kids’ names.”

    I am a bit confused about this so could you pleases explain why further. I can think of several examples of people who did this and have very successful business eg Trump, Walmart, Dangote, Saatchi etc.

    Also taking into context the way things are in the present day where personal branding is VERY important, wouldnt it actually be a beneficial thing to do?

    The only way I can see using one’s name for their company as negative would be in a Remington context (ie since u r trying to make it a ‘colourless’ business) and in terms of the danger of not being able to own your name if for eg someone were to buy your company.

    • LaJane Galt says:

      Fair or not, some companies may be discarded on paper because of the ethnicity of the name. My job deals with reviewing documents of companies owned by Indian Americans. They NEVER name their companies: Kumar, Ramesh Inc….Always something “neutral.”

      We tend to mashup kids’ names (as last names tend to be Anglo) KayLynnTra Corp just doesn’t come across well.