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Diplomatic Entertainment

By Edwin Osorio

The secret of success is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake those, you’ve got it made. Groucho Marx

José Luis was a man with sublime skills and a matchless talent. Nobody could better him in his field, and only a few have possessed his expertise, observation and talent to match projects with dreams. In fortuitous circumstances his abilities would have let him be in government.
Thus, “Lucho”, as he was known in the neighbourhood, used his persuasive arts to convince investors to finance another one of his “millionaire” ideas, his innovative brand of waterproof pants. This was despite the fact that investments in his last three projects – disposable curtains, a toothbrush for babies, and the full mourners’ service for distant but wealthy relatives – had not proved a success.
Assuming that the future must be like the past can be a mistake but needless to say the latest José loan was not settled. This time, however, there was a very different reason for the financial debacle: it was not that the idea was too original or too impractical, quite the reverse. Apparently, the market for waterproof pants was cornered by international brands promoting their swimwear, and potential new customers found the idea of wearing a swimsuit under their clothes distasteful.
Crestfallen, José Luis was taking a walk, meditating on the causes of his failure, considering the reasons that kept him from knowing success. He did not consider himself adept at deception, he was not a fraud. He was a dreamer, and like all dreamers he was trying to adapt the world to his ideas. These were his thoughts when he heard someone call out his name.
“Lucho!”

“Don Pedro, how are you?”

“I’m good, and I can’t return the question to you as I heard what happened so I can imagine how you are.”

“That’s nothing; failure is just a step on the ladder of success.”

“You are right. Since I found out your business had failed I wanted to talk to you. I know your intentions are good, and I’ve noticed your ability to convince people to invest in you. Also, can you deny to me that the ability to persuade, when based on nebulous reasoning, is very similar to a lie?

“Wait …”

“Let me finish the thought, my good man! I do not think you have a bad will, I’m just saying that your ability to pretend to know exactly what you are doing, coupled with your ability to find people who finance your quixotic businesses, might be helpful in another area.”

“In another area?”

“Yes, we both know an excellent new niche market where your qualities will allow you to excel, but to get into it, it is necessary to have the right contacts. It is a way to make money by inducing mistakes in others and pretending to make mistakes yourself.”

“What?”

“Poker! If you analyse it, it perfectly utilises your powers of observation, reading the competition and making others believe what you want them to believe. And the best part is that with a very small investment you achieve a great capital return. You have to consider that 95% of people who enter this game will lose their money, and only those who manage to identify the subjective information being sent by their competitors, who take advantage through their chips, position or making a bluff at the right time will succeed, because a good player does not need to wait for the perfect hand to come. What we have to achieve is to make you part of the 5% of the strategists who increase their funds from playing poker.”

Luis listened carefully to Don Pedro, asked for more information, with Don Pedro asking him many questions in return. Immediately he said he was attracted by this ingenious proposal, but explained that due to his current situation he had no funds to start this grand new project; however, if he was able to find a sponsor, they would go halves in the business and share in the success.

Don Pedro was José Luis’s fifth creditor, and although I did not hear all further developments I know that eventually José Luis left the country, having by then paid back all his debts.

I guess his entrance into the game was glorious, because there are two ways to succeed with lies: making it big in politics, or playing poker.


Image ‘The Marx Brothers’ by Milton Johanides

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