A new client – and a whole new continent

Mike Reed
31 October 2012

So, this is exciting. I have a great new client in the US, and thanks to him I’m off across the Pond to find a few more.

I recently started working with Ted Pearlman, a fascinating fellow in Denver, Colorado, who provides the most extraordinary service. Put simply, he brings people together.

Sometimes, he’s commissioned to do so. An injured athlete might be looking for the ideal surgeon, for example. A composer might be seeking a lyricist. An entrepreneur might need a brand consultant to help launch a new business.

Other times, Ted initiates the introduction. He brings together pairs of influencers who share common goals, or creatives who would be natural collaborators.

He pays for them to get together over a meal, or through a ‘compact adventure’ like an afternoon’s fly–fishing, or an evening in a sound studio. Something relevant that’ll help them connect.

Ted’s already proved the power of this approach with some names you’ll probably recognise. For example, he introduced marketing and business guru Seth Godin to author Alfie Kohn, as both are on a mission to transform public education in the US.

He also introduced ‘Swiss Miss’ Tina Roth Eisenberg to her fellow female entrepreneur, the columnist and author Meg Hirschberg. Tina called it ‘one of the best lunch dates of my life.’

Many businesses claim to be driven by passion, with varying degrees of credibility. But Ted’s really is. This is something he found himself doing because he believes in it, and loves it. Gradually, it pushed aside his other, more conventional work, and became his entire focus. It’s truly personal for him.

Us is Two

Together, Ted and I have branded his business as Us is Two. It’s a deliberately unconventional form of words, which helps give it some cut–through. But there’s more to it than that.

Ted’s a big Charlie Mingus fan, and spent three years working for Sue Mingus, the great jazzman’s widow. There’s a song on the 1972 concert album, Mingus and Friends, called ‘Us is Two’, which, as soon as Ted thought of it, felt like the perfect name for his brand. As indeed it is.

With the name agreed, we’ve also developed a website, with lovely illustrations by Howell Golson. Howell turns out to be the most amazing illustrator – check out his site and Flickr.

We’ve also created The Pudding Manifesto, a statement of business philosophy that we’re hoping similar–minded businesses will want to sign up to.

All of which is really exciting stuff. It’s such a pleasure working with someone who cares so much about their work, and about doing the right thing. And if that was all I was getting from this project, it would be plenty. But it’s not.

The Reed Words US Tour

When Ted first got in touch, his budgets were necessarily limited. Also, while we knew there was work to be done, we weren’t yet clear on how much, or how long it would take.

Ted had enjoyed, and agreed with, my post about project fees, but it was difficult to scope this one out. I could quote an hourly rate, and bill him every month, but that left him pretty exposed to a ticking meter. It’s not a satisfying way forward for anyone.

So Ted had a bit of an idea. He knew from our conversations that I was keen to develop more contacts in the US, and he said, ‘How about this? In lieu of payment, I’ll fly you to New York and San Francisco, and set you up with some great people over here.’

Now, I’ve been paid in kind before. The boxes of chocolate goodies that arrive from Love Brownies, in recompense for odd bits of wordy noodling on their website, are welcomed so warmly they’re in danger of melting on the spot. But this was something else.

I could have said no, of course. I could have demanded ‘proper’ payment. And Ted being what I believe they call a ‘stand–up guy’ across the water, would have been fine with that. But who says no to a chance like this? As another wise client, Simon Manchipp of SomeOne, always says: ‘Chase the opportunity, not the money.’

So the Reed Words US Tour was born. The plans are still slightly fluid: we’ve decided against the West Coast, as it means using up a lot of time travelling. But right now, the plan is to spend several days meeting people in New York, with a side–trip to Chicago for a day or so.

It’s difficult to describe how exciting all this is, really. I’ll be posting more about the trip as the plans coalesce. We’re planning for January, so there’s still plenty of duck–aligning to do. But dots are already appearing on our map, literally and figuratively. It’s going to be a fantastically exciting trip.

All this, and a fascinating new client to work with. I’m one lucky writer right now.

UPDATE: The itinerary is now set, and has reverted to the original! So I shall be in San Francisco 13–16 January, Chicago 16–17, and New York 18–25. If you’d like to meet up, please do let me know, and maybe we can set something up.

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