Revenge of the Nerd Ch. 60byrpsuch©
I had worked out that changing my major was not going to happen. I wasn't going to be able to take enough credits in one semester to graduate in anything but my original major. That didn't stop me from taking anything I wanted.
I had a good idea what I wanted to do. I didn't know if there was such a profession nor how to pursue it whether there was or not. I recognized I had developed a lot of skills in persuading people. For most of my life it seemed to come naturally.
I picked out courses that included psychology to figure out why people do things, sociology to figure out how they could be motivated to do things in groups they might well not do on their own, and advertising to learn more about motivation and spin, though that was a skill at which I was quite adept.
No course could cover the material I wanted to know, so I took a key lesson from Jeff: I went to the library to fill in whatever I thought I needed. I read a few books on persuasion. I read enough to understand that people responded to motivation much better than they did to persuasion, even if it was the exact same thing.
This semester was as different as it was possible to be from my entire school career. I had heard about this kind of thing, but I didn't think anybody did it except Jeff. I took those courses and read those books because I wanted to learn. I really didn't much care how I did as long as I learned. I reveled in learning. Me; Ashley. Go figure.
"That was so nice of them," said Jeff when Malcolm and Dr. Lloyd left. "I can't believe the time and effort they've put in for my benefit. I'm overwhelmed that they would put themselves out for me this way."
"I don't think you were listening," I said.
"What are you talking about?"
"Let me see if I can paraphrase it in a way you can understand, and I don't mean to demean your intelligence in any way when I say that. Only a complete moron would make any effort to do that. But, Mr. Bill, there are some things you don't understand.
"A mind like yours comes along only once in … I don't even know how long. It's rare enough that they don't expect to ever see one again.
"I know they made accommodations for you from setting up your scholarship to arranging for this academic year. And now they're offering something very attractive. They may very well be nice, caring people. That's not why they're doing it.
"You're not a hot commodity; there is only one of your ilk. You are a unique asset to a university. Imagine a university that could say, 'We've got Isaac Newton on our staff.' It would attract the top students; give them unmatched prestige."
"I'm not exactly Isaac Newton."
"No, you're not. He had peers doing the same kinds of work. Who else is doing what you do? Who else has even though of it? How many people could even understand it, let alone come up with the concept and build it?"
The poor guy was way beyond blushing. If I could have read his mind I would have heard something like it's no big deal; it's just what I do.
"What they are trying to do is to lock down an asset before anybody else has a chance to recognize its value and make a competing offer."
"You're being awfully cynical."
"No. He called you Dr. Goldberg, and not the way I mean it. You don't have the degree yet. You'll get it, but you don't have it. He wanted to give you a signal of according you status.
"He called you 'sir.' He knows you as Jeff, but he called you 'sir.' He's older than your Dad, but he called you 'sir.' You're nineteen years old and he called you 'sir.' That was no accident.
"You don't get to be a university president on academic talent alone. You need promotional and marketing skills. As of today you're Professor Goldberg. He's selling you the honor and prestige of becoming an important academic bulwark of the university. But he's thinking of the endowments the university will get as a result of your association. He's very astute.
"My Father thinks of you as not being useful or worthy of being associated with. Dr. Lloyd thinks my Father's friends will give generously and frequently to be associated with you.
"There's nothing wrong with what he's offering you. I just want you to understand: it isn't generosity for which you should be 'deeply appreciative'; it's a business deal. It is flattering because he recognizes your true value. But it's a business deal."
Then his eyes did their thing, searching for a response. He considered what I said for around thirty seconds.
"Who are you? I'm beginning to wonder if I'm the talent."
My skin got red. My heart fluttered. I got light-headed. Was there any limit to what a person could accomplish with somebody like Jeff in their corner?
I couldn't think of anything on topic to say, so I went with, "I'm going to get in some more studying before I start to get ready to go home for the break."
Jeff looked at me with awe as I walked calmly to the kitchen. I looked calm on the outside. Inside, I was jumping up and down like a little dog excited to see her best friend coming home from work.
I settled down at the table and decided this would be a good time to start The Art of War. It would probably come in handy when I settled on what I wanted to do. It might even provide me with tools to take on my Father. Studying could be so much fun.
I had decided to become Ashley Goldberg, Advocate for … I had no idea. There were so many projects that needed a good advocate. I couldn't decide which were most important. It would also be wise to try to find one early on at which I stood a good chance of being successful. While failure usually provides much better lessons than success, it wasn't the best way to create supportive word-of-mouth advertising.
I came up with an idea that let me take on my first project the next day. It was everything I hoped for.
I couldn't wait to tell Jeff. But I would wait for the most opportune time.